Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Oregon Ducks vs. Colorado Buffaloes

No. 10 Oregon Ducks at Colorado Buffaloes
Saturday, 10/22/11, 3:40 PM EST, TV:  N/A
Opening Point Spread:  Oregon -32.5
Current Betting Line:  Oregon -31
Opening Total:  65.5
Current Total:  64
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Oregon Ducks Running Back LaMichael James
The Oregon Ducks are large road favorites and may be without the services of running back LaMichael James

Oregon is set to make its first trip to Boulder since 1987 and the last three meetings in the series all came in bowl games.  The Ducks have won 15 straight conference games, including the last seven played on the road.  Offensively, the team ranks fifth in the nation in rushing at 315 yards per game and has out-gained all six opponents int total offense this season, averaging 539 yards per game.  A few injuries may cause those numbers to drop, as running back LaMichael James (elbow) isn’t expected to play, while quarterback Darron Thomas (knee) is doubtful.  Oregon has covered both games this year as a favorite of 21.5 to 31 points, while going 8-1 ATS in October the last two-plus seasons.

The Ducks have depth at the running back position, replacing James with Kenjon Barner, who has 48 carries for 318 yards and five touchdowns.  He ran for 171 yards and a touchdown in last weekend’s 41-27 victory over Arizona State as 14-point home favorites.  “I think I came out a little too amped up for myself,” commented Barner.  “Instead of controlling my jitters, I let my jitters control me.”

Colorado will be playing in Boulder for just the third time in eight games this season and will be facing a steep climb in trying to capture its first Pac-12 Conference win.  The Buffaloes have allowed 100 points over their last two games, dropping a 52-24 contest against the Washington Huskies last week.  “Oregon, it’s not just their offense but their whole team,” commented first-year coach Jon Embree.  “The thing that jumps out about them is just their speed.”  Saturday will serve as the school’s Homecoming weekend, which is chosen based on a mid-October date, not the opponent.  Colorado is 0-2 ATS as an underdog of 21.5 to 31 points the last two-plus seasons.

The Buffaloes have lost five straight against ranked opponents and will need to continue holding onto the football to have any chance of pulling off an upset.  Colorado has committed just six turnovers, which is tied for the sixth fewest in college football.  Injuries have also started to pile up on the sideline, as running back Rodney Stewart and wide receiver Paul Richardson are both out, accounting for 38.4 percent of the team’s total yards.  Quarterback Tyler Hansen is going to have to win the game, but he’s been sacked a conference-high 19 times.

Bettors will likely back the Ducks due to their 20-6-1 ATS mark in October, while the Buffaloes are 1-5 ATS as an underdog.

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