Colorado surprised everyone when it reached the Pac-12 title Game two years ago, but it reverted back to the norm in 2017 with a 5-7 record. That had a lot to do with defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt going to Oregon (replaced by D.J. Eliot). Mike MACIntyre would like to return to a bowl this season, but the odds are long for the Buffaloes (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), expected to finish at the bottom of the South division again with an over/under of 4.5 wins.
The lone positive for the Buffs may be that quarterback Steven Montez (18 TDs, 9 INTs, 338 rushing yards) is back for another season. He’s a serviceable quarterback, but after getting sacked 39 times last year, will have to deal behind a suspect line once again with only two starters back. It doesn’t help that a couple freshmen are set to start on the left side. Virginia Tech transfer Travon McMillian should takeover for Phillip Lindsay at running back just fine, but then again, it’s hard to see him surpassing Lindsay’s 1,474 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. The Buffs need to get better, but without an improved line, it’ll be hard to average more than the 26.4 points per Game they had last year. The top receivers are gone, although that shouldn’t be a huge issue with experience in Jay MACIntyre (396 yards) and Juwann Winfree (325 yards) along with Texas Tech transfer Tony Brown.
It’s the same situation for the defense even with more starters returning. Colorado struggled to hold down most Conference opponents en route to allowing more than 200 rushing yards per Game. That can’t happen again if this team wants to reach a bowl, but that will require a lot of improvement from the returning seniors. Nose tackle Javier Edwards has to become a force, while Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis need to do a little more at linebacker. The same can be said of the secondary, which returns three starters, including safety Evan Worthington. The defense returns pieces, although that doesn’t mean much from a group that was one of the worst in the Pac-12.
The Schedule for the Buffaloes doesn’t get easier this year as the trip to Nebraska could lead to only two non-Conference wins. Betting on them to reach a bowl may require Four Pac-12 wins, and while that’s possible, it’s not probable. They could be favored in home Games against UCLA, Arizona State and Oregon State and then a trip to Cal in the season finale could be the sixth win. That’s still best case scenario for a team that will have trouble blocking every opponent in the conference. Montez will have a lot on his shoulders with new receivers, a new running back and a possibly weaker offensive line. Throw in a struggling defense and it’s best to assume the Buffs will be headed for five wins or less once again.
2018 Colorado Buffaloes Football Schedule
Aug. 31 vs. Colorado State (Sports Authority Field, Denver)
Sept. 8 at Nebraska
Sept. 15 vs. New Hampshire
Sept. 28 vs. UCLA
Oct. 6 vs. Arizona State
Oct. 13 at USC
Oct. 20 at Washington
Oct. 27 vs. Oregon State
Nov. 2 at Arizona
Nov. 10 vs. Washington State
Nov. 17 vs. Utah
Nov. 24 at California