Colorado raced out to a 4-0 start in last year’s truncated regular season, producing one of the most surprising campaigns of any Power 5 program in college football.
Despite consecutive losses to end the season, including a 55-23 drubbing by Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl, the Buffaloes turned enough heads in Karl Dorrell’s first season for the coach to receive 2020 Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors. With the return of Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jarek Broussard and two polished receivers, Colorado should be able to build on Dorrell’s productive first season.
Sportsbooks, however, expect the Buffaloes to experience a considerable regression in Year 2 of the Dorrell era. At least five prominent books have set Colorado’s win total at 4.5 victories, an amount that places the Buffaloes near the bottom of the pack in the conference.
Colorado Win Total at Top Sportsbooks
- BetMGM: Over 4.5 (-115)/Under 4.5 (-105)
- DraftKings: Over 4.5 (-105)/Under 4.5 (-115)
- Barstool: Over 4.5 (-105)/Under 4.5 (-122)
- FanDuel: Over 4.5 (+100)/Under 4.5 (-120)
Running into a gauntlet
Colorado opens the season Friday as a massive 37-point favorite over Northern Colorado. From there, the schedule gets tough. The Buffs welcome sixth-ranked Texas A&M to Boulder on Sept. 11 in a key non-conference game. The Aggies averaged 202.9 rushing yards a game last season behind guard Kenyon Green, a Sporting News First-Team All-America. The return of Green, along with backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, could result in a frustrating afternoon for the Buffs’ front seven.
The Buffs will remain at home a week later against Minnesota in their final non-conference game of the regular season. On Thursday, the Golden Gophers hung with No. 4 Ohio State in a game that Minnesota led at the half. Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim scampered for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the 45-31 defeat. After surrendering the lead in the third quarter, Minnesota cut the deficit to 38-31 with 5:31 left on a 2-yard run by Bryce Williams.
If Colorado can emerge with two wins from its three non-conference games, the odds of hitting the over will improve drastically. The Buffs open Pac-12 play with three matchups against Top 25 teams in their first five conference games. Colorado has road games against No. 25 Arizona State on Sept. 25 and No. 11 Oregon on Oct. 30, along with a home matchup against No. 15 USC on Oct. 2. In total, five of Colorado’s nine conference games are against teams ranked in the Top 25.
Besides Broussard, Colorado will have a deep backfield with junior Alex Fontenot and freshman Ashaad Clayton, a four-star recruit from New Orleans. Fontenot led Colorado in rushing in 2019 but missed all of last season with a hip injury. Last season, Broussard led the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game (162.6 yards). The Buffs also return four of five starters on the offensive line.
At quarterback, Brendon Lewis is set to make his first career start on Friday against Northern Colorado. Lewis, a dual threat quarterback, appeared in just one game last season, the Alamo Bowl loss to Texas. Lewis rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown in the defeat.
Lewis will have a plethora of options at his disposal, as the Buffs look to refine their offensive attack in the second year of Dorrell’s tenure. Colorado’s top two receivers, Dimitri Stanley and La’Vontae Shenault, both return. Another wideout, Brenden Rice, can stretch the defense, while Brady Russell is a capable receiving threat at tight end. It is why some experts believe the over is a lock.
The over/under for CU is 4.5 wins. Jon has them hitting the over, which I think is a virtual shoe in.
Buffs won four out of six games last year with a new head coach that didn’t have a normal start by any means. I’d be beyond shocked if they didn’t win 6-7 at least in 2021. https://t.co/K7GOHwFhla
— Reid Fischer (@ReidFischer) June 3, 2021
At WynnBet, Colorado has odds of 100/1 to win the Pac-12 title. Colorado last won a conference championship in 2001, when the Buffaloes captured the Big 12 conference title. Colorado won the Pac-12 South in 2016, but lost 41-10 to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game.