Colorado Buffaloes (1-2, 1-2 ATS) at West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1, 1-1 ATS)
Milan Puskar Stadium Thursday, October 1st 7:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Colorado Buffaloes +16.5/West Virginia -17.5
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The first month of Thursday night football games were dominated by match-ups within the ACC and SEC, but we will get a interesting out of conference showdown between the West Virginia Mountaineers and Colorado Buffaloes this week. The Mountaineers will host the event sporting a 2-1 record coming off a shootout loss to Auburn 41-30. West Virginia has played pretty well thus far on offense scoring at least 30 points per game.
The Buffaloes enter the contest fresh off their first win of the season in a 24-0 shutout over Wyoming. Colorado enters the game having lost 6 straight regular season games on the road. The Buffaloes are expected to be a bottom dweller in the tough Big 12, but they could really change that perception if they could score the big win on the big stage this Thursday night.
Colorado has suffered from problems starting on the offensive line for some time now. The Buffaloes allowed 29 sacks last season which was 2nd worse in the Big 12. Already this season, quarterback Cody Hawkins has been sacked 8 times in just 3 games which may be a reason the offense has not been as productive. The stability up front is only allowing the rushing game to total 91 yards per game as a team and before last week had just over 90 yards of total rushing yards in their first two outings. Of course the lack of a running game from a big 12 team may not be too surprising, but it still provides balance and helps keeps the chains moving.
Hawkins has had issues at times as well this season. Despite the offense returning the majority of starters from 2008, there has not been a lot of consistency. Hawkins is completing just 52% of his passes for 755 yards while throwing 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. WR Scotty McKnight has been the most consistent threat on the outside catching 20 passes for 229 yards. Still, the offense has been up and down all year. They will face another tough challenge against a defense that ranked 11th overall in 2008 and returns 8 starters in the Mountaineers. If things are to change, it has to start on the offensive line which will open up the rest of the offense.
The West Virginia defense on the other hand may be under the microscope in some aspects. Thought to be one of the strengths of the team heading into the season, they are allowing 27 points per game and have only faced arguably 1 solid football team. The Mountaineers actually outplayed Auburn last week in most aspects of the game out gaining the Tigers 504 to 400 in respect to total yards. However, the difference in the game was the 6 turnovers given up by West Virginia. Senior QB Jarrett Brown threw 4 picks in one of the worse performances of his career. Brown had been stout in his first two games throwing just 1 pick and completing around 75% of his passes.
The Mountaineers quarterback will look to bounce back this week against a vulnerable secondary. Brown was also banged up in last week’s loss with a suffering a shoulder injury, but is expected to be find come game time. The real strength of the offense lies on the legs of running back Noel Devine. Devine hyped as possibly the best tailback in the Big East this season is averaging over 6 yards per carry, over 100 yards per game, and already has 5 touchdowns this season. The Buffaloes have not seen many spread offenses that run the ball and it will be interesting to see if they can withstand the challenge from the Mountaineers offense.
Colorado is 2-18 straight up on the road in regular season games that are also not played on a neutral field. The Mountaineers on the other hand have won 13 of their last 15 games at home during regular season outings. West Virginia is also 2-0 on the over total this season while the Buffaloes are standing at 2-1 in favor to the under.
Jay’s Pick - West Virginia usually tends to spark about this time every year and they may very well take over the game Thursday night. Take West Virginia -17.5
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