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Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Owen McCown prepares to throw the ball against Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sept. 17, 2022. (Derek Marckel/University of Colorado Athletics)
Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Owen McCown prepares to throw the ball against Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sept. 17, 2022. (Derek Marckel/University of Colorado Athletics)

Colorado Buffaloes scouting report

Head coach: Karl Dorrell, 3rd season (8-13; 43-40 career)

This season: 0-3

Last week: Lost at Minnesota, 49-7

5 Players to Watch

• WR Daniel Arias, Sr.: He’s leading the Buffs in receiving so far this season and has been targeted more often than anyone (16 times) on the offense. Buffs need him to have a big game.

• LB Josh Chandler-Semedo, Sr.: CU has to figure out to stop the run and the linebackers will be a big part of that. Chandler-Semedo has 20 tackles on the season, including a team-high three tackles for loss.

• DL Chance Main, Sr.: He’s made some plays early on for CU, including a tackle for loss, pass breakup and fumble recovery. Buffs need him to come up with a few more Saturday.

• QB Owen McCown, Fr.: He may or may not get the start, but he’s certainly been in the running. If he starts or if he plays at all, he will be asked to give the offense a spark.

• CB Kaylin Moore, So.: The Buffs are going against a veteran passing attack and they’ll need Moore and his fellow DBs to step up and limit big plays through the air.

Colorado offense

Somehow, the Buffs have managed even worse production on offense than they had a year ago, when they were one of the worst in the country. Out of 131 FBS teams, CU is 129th in scoring (10.0 per game), 127th in total yards (245.3 per game) and near the bottom in just about every other main category. CU has had a different plan at QB every week so far, and it’s possible they’ll have another this week, as freshman Owen McCown has entered the competition to start. Regardless of who plays at QB, the Buffs need that guy (or multiple guys) to play well.

Colorado defense

The overall numbers haven’t been good, but it also hasn’t helped that the defense hasn’t received any help from the offense. The Buffs are, by far, last in the country in rush defense (348.0 per game, 99 more than anyone else) and they are 127th in points allowed (42.7 per game). Stopping the run will be the first priority on Saturday, but CU has to find a way to rediscover what it did in the first half against TCU in the opener. The Buffs also need to cause some turnovers.

Colorado special teams

There are no complaints about how sophomore Cole Becker has played to this point. Of course, he hasn’t had many opportunities, but he’s been perfect so far. He is 3-for-3 on field goals, 3-for-3 on extra points and has put all nine of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Punter Ashton Logan has had some struggles to this point, as the Buffs rank 115th in net punting average (34.4). The Buffs have been solid on kickoff returns with Nikko Reed and Maurice Bell, but have had just one punt return.

How Colorado can win

Just like last week, the first and most crucial part of the winning formula is for the Buffs to discover their offense. In three games, they’ve scored only three touchdowns and two came in garbage time. The Buffs have emphasized trying to get off to a good start and that would help. They have been outscored 62-16 in the first half this season. Defensively, the Buffs have to stop the run and create some turnovers.

Buffs notables

• In its history, the Buffs are 83-43-2 in conference openers, including 5-6 since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. CU is 38-17-1 in conference openers at Folsom Field.

• CU is 0-3 for the first time since 2012. The Buffs are trying to avoid their first 0-4 start since the 2006 team started 0-6. The 2006 team was outscored by 50 points in its 0-6 start, while this year’s team has been outscored by 98 points in a 0-3 start.

• One plus for the Buffs is that they haven’t been penalized much. They have only 13 penalties for 105 yards. Only 14 teams in the country have had fewer penalties per game than CU’s 4.3.

• Sophomore Brendon Lewis has thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-longest streak in CU history (172, Steven Montez in 2017). During that streak, Lewis is 105-of-156 (67.3%) for 909 yard and six touchdowns.

• CU has had 16 different players catch at least one pass. That’s already the most in a season for the Buffs since 16 players caught a pass in 2016.

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