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Alamo Bowl opponent preview: Colorado Buffaloes

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Texas and Colorado meet for their 19th matchup and the first time since 2009.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Colorado at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The No. 20 Texas Longhorns will close out the 2020 season at the Alamodome for the second consecutive year in the Valero Alamo Bowl, this time facing off against the Colorado Buffaloes.

It’s been over a decade since the two former Big 12 opponents played each other, with the Horns winning the last five matchups and leading the all-time series 11-7.

In Karl Dorrell’s first season in Boulder, the Buffaloes started off their COVID-shortened season 4-0 before losing to Utah to close out their season to finish at 4-1. However, Colorado has had three games canceled, including Pac-12 Champion Oregon, runner-up USC, and Arizona State.

It’s hard to gauge whether this Colorado team is good, bad, or neither but here’s a look at the final opponent Texas will face in the 2020 season.

At the helm of Colorado’s offense is senior quarterback Sam Noyer, who threw for precisely 1,000 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions in five games for the Buffaloes while starting for the first time in his collegiate career.

His strongest skill set is his ability to run, but as a passer, he’s not exactly great at any one thing. The majority of Noyer’s throws are first-read throws to simplify the offense for him.

A key for the Texas secondary is if they can take away Noyer’s first option and force him to throw to his second, third, or fourth option.

He’s also prone to tunnel vision and will lock in on a target that isn’t exactly, uh, open.

I’m not crazy about his accuracy but he’ll be facing a Texas defense that is far from full strength. With true freshman Jerrin Thompson starting at safety and another newbie ( cornerback Kitan Crawford) most likely getting playing time, Colorado might try and take more shots with Noyer.

On the ground is where Noyer can cause the most damage with five rushing touchdowns compared to six touchdowns through the air. He’s second on the team in rushing yards and is not afraid to take a hit or two.

If Colorado finds themselves close to the goal line, don’t be surprised if Noyer keeps it himself on a read option or designed quarterback run play.

The Texas defense has done a relatively good job against mobile quarterbacks but as you know, without Joseph Ossai, Ta’Quon Graham, Chris Brown, and others it will be more of a challenge for Chris Ash.

How The Offenses Stack Up

Offense Colorado Texas
Offense Colorado Texas
Total YPG 421 457.3
Passing YPG 202.6 274
Rushing YPG 218.4 183.3
PTS/G 29.6 41.3

The Buffaloes are led by Dallas native and former Bishop Lynch star Jerek Broussard at running back. The sophomore leads the team with 813 rushing yards, averaging 162.6 yards per game. He does get some help from a sturdy offensive line.

Colorado will trot out an extra lineman, one or two tight ends, and occasionally a fullback to clear the way for Broussard.

Another note: Colorado loves to use this formation and will also throw out of it or run play-action. I think Coach Dorrell’s biggest emphasis will be trying to dominate the line of scrimmage from the beginning and this formation will be key.

The one knock on Broussard is his long speed; he’s not able to break away from defenders on long runs and only has three touchdowns this season to show for it.

With Ossai and Graham not playing, along with a handful of other defensive starters, it will interesting to see how the defensive line will handle the jumbo sets from Colorado. They love to try and run it down your throat close to the end zone and will usually sub out Broussard for one of their bigger running backs.

Outside of Broussard, Colorado’s next biggest weapon is wideout Dimitri Stanley. Stanley leads the team in receiving yards (249) and possesses some big-play capability.

Dorrell’s offense hasn’t breached 30 points since their Week 2 victory over Stanford, but a short-handed Texas defense might be just what the doctor ordered.

Bottom line: I think I’ve said this for every game this year, but this comes down to if the Horns can stop Colorado's rushing attack and make Noyer beat them. When Broussard rushes for 100+ yards the Buffaloes are 4-0. When he rushes for under 100 yards? 0-1.

I’ll start by saying this: I think Colorado’s defense is gettable.

Statistically, they’re right in the middle of most of the major categories; yards per game, passing yards, rushing yards, and points per game. But they give up a handful of big plays each game ESPECIALLY on the ground:

Rest in Peace, Ty.

The Buffs defense started off the 2020 season by giving up 42 points and nearly 500 yards to UCLA and then 31 the following week to Stanford. After a couple of cancellations, it looked like the defense turned the corner by allowing only a total of 23 points to San Diego State and Arizona in back-to-back wins. However, Arizona boasted the second-worst offense in the Pac-12 and San Diego State isn’t exactly setting offensive records left and right. Colorado ended the season by giving up 38 points to Utah in their lone loss of the season.

The Utes were able to rush for 192 yards and the Horns should try and follow suit. Of course, it’s easier said than done with Sam Cosmi, Derek Kerstetter, and Denzel Okafor missing Tuesday’s game along with Brennan Eagles and Keaontay Ingram.

Similar Defenses

Defense Colorado Texas
Defense Colorado Texas
Total YPG 376.8 409.8
Passing YPG 220 274.2
Rushing YPG 156.8 135.6
PPG 27 29.1

Bottom line: Texas needs to use their playmakers early and often to win this game. Bijan, Whittington, Smith, Bijan again. Trying to play smash-mouth football while missing key starters on the line might be difficult but Colorado’s defense is susceptible to big plays. The Horns need to create those big plays for Herman to stay undefeated in bowl games at Texas.