Fans of the Colorado Buffaloes want to know when we are going to start talking about their team. Have no fear,
Big Eight Big 12 Pac-10 Pac-12 football fans; with the Georgia Bulldogs Boulder-bound for their last regular-season interregional game for a while and the Red and Black faithful primed for the First Annual Dawg Sports Sacrificial Goat Roast, the time to talk about Colorado is now. Since you’ve been patient, I’m not just going to bring you a smattering of statistical minutiae, nor will I expect you to be satisfied with a heaping helping of historical data; rather, I will provide you with Too Much Information:
The Red and Black have crossed paths with eight of the current members of the Big 12, including Colorado in 2006, and Georgia has gone 15-8 against the present complement of the league. However, that ledger includes a 10-1 mark between the hedges and a 5-7 record outside of Athens. The Bulldogs have gone 1-2 on Big 12 teams’ home fields. Likewise, Mark Richt’s 3-1 record against the Big 12 features an 0-1 ledger on the road. Meanwhile, the Buffs have posted an all-time mark of 2-9-1 against the SEC.
Colorado averages 9.3 penalties per game, the most in the Big 12, and loses more than 75 yards per outing to yellow laundry. Georgia draws fewer than seven flags per contest and ranks in the top half of the SEC with only 42.8 penalty yards assessed against the ‘Dawgs on average.
For the thirteenth time in school history, Georgia has started out the season with a 1-3 record. The Athenians have posted a 5-6-1 record in the fifth games of the previous campaigns that began with one win and three losses in the Red and Black’s first four outings, including a 1-2 mark on those opponents’ home fields. However, following their five 1-3 starts since 1957, the Bulldogs have gone 4-1 in those seasons’ fifth games.
In 2010, Colorado has recovered one fumble (tied for the fewest in the conference), lost four fumbles (tied for the fourth-most in the league), and thrown eight interceptions (the fourth-most in the conference). Although the Buffaloes have picked off four passes, they have the worst turnover margin in the Big 12. Georgia also has one fumble recovery and four interceptions to its credit, but the Red and Black have 25 per cent fewer lost fumbles and 75 per cent fewer interceptions.
Although the margins are small, the ‘Dawgs nominally are a second-half team: Georgia has scored more points after halftime (50) than before (47), and Georgia has allowed fewer points past the break (34) than prior to it (45). The Buffaloes have been outscored 41-17 in the first half, but they have outscored the opposition 45-27 in the second half. Don’t read too much into the halftime score.
No team in the Big 12 has made fewer trips into the red zone (7) or scored on fewer red zone trips (6) than Colorado. Half of the drives inside their 20 yard line permitted by the Buffaloes have ended in touchdowns for the opposition, while two-thirds of Georgia’s red zone scores have been TDs.
The Buffs are coming off of a bye week. Open dates before big games sometimes matter and sometimes don’t. In his first four seasons as the skipper in Boulder, Dan Hawkins has guided the Buffs to a 2-3 record in games immediately following an in-season open date, and Colorado has surrendered 35 or more points in four of those five outings following idle Saturdays.
As bad as it is to be 0-3 in league play, a poor SEC start does not necessarily mean the ‘Dawgs will struggle in non-conference outings. In the five previous seasons in which Georgia started out 0-3 in the SEC, the Red and Black posted non-league ledgers of 2-1-1 in 1936, 6-1 in 1943, 3-1 in 1951, 2-0-1 in 1956, and 3-0 in 1993.
Although Manic Doug and Depressive Doug have debated the trustworthiness of Colorado’s defensive statistics, these facts remain facts:
|Team||Pts./Game||Pts. v. Colo.||Rush Yds./Game||Rush Yds. v. Colo.||Pass Yds./Game||Pass Yds. v. Colo.|
The bottom line is that the Buffaloes have held two of their first three opponents below their season-long averages in points per game, and Colorado has held each of its first three opponents below their season-long averages in rushing yards per game and passing yards per game. There’s no way to put a positive spin on those statistics; we should expect the Bulldogs to be held under 24 points, under 120 rushing yards, and under 225 passing yards.
Maybe Georgia won’t be able to move the ball and score on Colorado, but the Buffaloes shouldn’t be able to move the ball and score on the Bulldogs, either. As Doug Gillett notes when he isn’t talking to himself like Gollum:
As much as the Bulldog offense has struggled in its last three games, Colorado's has been statistically worse, and they haven't even played as tough a schedule as Georgia has.
The Buffs rank eighth in the Big 12 in rushing offense, ninth in the conference in passing offense, and 11th in the league in both total offense and scoring offense. The ‘Dawgs have faced the teams ranked 46th (Arkansas, with 31.5 points per game), 50th (South Carolina, 30.8), 75th (Mississippi State, 23.5), and 109th (Louisiana-Lafayette, 17.3) in the country in scoring offense, allowing exactly none of them to exceed their season-long average by more than half a point. Colorado ranks 96th in the land in scoring, averaging 20.7 points per game.
The last time I was called upon to produce a pregame breakdown prior to a college football contest between Georgia and Colorado, I wrote:
Colorado is a better team, and Dan Hawkins is a better coach, than the Buffaloes' 0-3 record suggests. By the time Georgia travels to Boulder in 2010, the clash of these two teams will carry the impact it was expected to have when the series was scheduled.
Clearly, I was wrong about that last part, although it would be a bit much to apply the "Unemployment Bowl" label previously attached to the 1990 Georgia-Alabama game. However, it is fair to say that Georgia is a better team than the Bulldogs’ 0-3 conference record suggests, and, whatever fault fans may find with Mark Richt’s recent performance, the fact remains that he is still 39-4 in non-conference games, 20-4 against teams from automatically-qualifying BCS leagues other than the SEC, and 7-1 against out-of-conference opponents on the road.
While I would love to believe the Bulldogs will pound the Buffaloes into submission, particularly after their fans dared to suggest that Uga was not as good a mascot as the underwhelming Ralphie, the fact is that there are no easy fixes and Georgia is going to continue to struggle as the Red and Black try to put it all together. This is going to be the kind of game that will make Bulldog fans throw toaster ovens off of balconies and sacrifice goats at the Arch; in short, it will be exactly the kind of game we saw the last time these two teams hooked up with one another.
My Prediction: Georgia 14, Colorado 13.