BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Colorado is just a touchdown underdog against Oregon. How the perennially powerful Ducks have fallen – or perhaps the Buffaloes have suddenly bridged the gap.
Consider this: Oregon (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) has been favored by an average of 37 points the last four years against Colorado and covered that big number each time. This version of the Ducks is reeling heading into Saturday’s game at Folsom Field after a 62-20 home loss to Utah a week ago.
Meanwhile, the Buffaloes (3-1) regained some swagger with their first three-game winning streak since 2008.
They also can’t forget all those bad beatings from Oregon, which tumbled out of the AP top 25 this week. Since entering the Pac-12, the Buffaloes have been routed by the Ducks 45-2 in 2011, 70-14 in `12, 57-16 in `13 and 44-10 last season.
”What’s different about this year, we have the confidence – more confidence,” Colorado senior defensive back Jered Bell said. ”More so, this year, than we had in previous years, and our play on the field has proved it.
”People are starting to believe in us, so that’s always good.”
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich certainly isn’t overlooking the Buffaloes. Especially not after what transpired last weekend against the Utes, when the Ducks surrendered the most points they’ve ever allowed at Autzen Stadium.
”We can’t dwell on what is lost,” Helfrich said. ”We can be excited on what we have left.”
Both quarterbacks in this game are banged up. Oregon’s Vernon Adams has a broken right index finger that’s bothered him since the season opener. He started last week, but was pulled in the first half. Jeff Lockie entered and threw for 139 yards with one touchdown. He also was picked off twice and sacked four times.
Colorado QB Sefo Liufau has a sore right shoulder, but is expected to play.
”In the past, I don’t think we’ve been really confident going into big games,” Liufau said. ”I think we’ve been hesitant in believing in ourselves and our ability to play with those tough teams.
”I think this upcoming week we’re more confident in ourselves. Oregon lost in a big way, we can’t deny that fact, but I still think they are a really good team. … We’re confident in ourselves and what we can do, we just have to go out there and prove it on the field now.”
Things to know as Colorado tries to beat Oregon for the first time since a 51-43 win at the Aloha Bowl in 1998:
CLEAN UNIFORM: Liufau hasn’t been sacked or intercepted over the last three games. ”We would like to both sack him and intercept him,” Helfrich said. ”No quarterback likes to be pressured. No quarterback likes to be hit multiple times.”
MARSHALL PLAN: Ducks wide receiver Byron Marshall isn’t listed on the team’s depth chart after hurting his leg last weekend. He was injured on a kickoff return early in the second half and had to be helped off the field by trainers. He’s caught nine passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns this season. He ranks 10th on Oregon’s career list with 27 touchdown receptions.
SPRUCED UP: How’s this for an unexpected text? Former Colorado standout receiver Michael Westbrook recently reached out to receiver Nelson Spruce to congratulate him. Spruce broke Westbrook’s school record for most yards receiving in a career last weekend. Spruce needs three scores to eclipse the program’s mark for most receiving TDs. ”He’s a great route runner. He’s got unbelievable hands,” Helfrich said.
ROLLS ROYCE: The Buffaloes are certainly wary of running back Royce Freeman, who’s scored a touchdown in every game this season. ”He’s a beast. We need to find a way to be able to tackle that young man and rally to him,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.
BOULDER BOUND: Helfrich has fond memories of his time in Boulder, when he was the offensive coordinator at Colorado from 2006-08. ”I remember driving to the hospital when our son was born, through the icy, bumpy roads and my wife yelling at me. I remember that,” Helfrich cracked. ”It’s a beautiful place, great campus. … And it’s also always cool to see Ralphie run.”
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AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org