Oct 15, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Owen McCown (7) scrambles in the second quarter against the California Golden Bears at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado QB Owen McCown enters portal following Sanders hire

One day after new coach Deion Sanders made clear who his starting quarterback would be in his first season at Colorado, incumbent quarterback Owen McCown entered the transfer portal on Monday.

McCown played in four games as a freshman and started three, completing 57 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He suffered an abdominal injury during Colorado’s 20-13 overtime win over Cal on Oct. 15 and was not able to return to the field.

That win turned out to be the Buffaloes’ only victory of the season, finishing 1-11 after they fired Karl Dorrell following an 0-5 start. Sanders, the longtime NFL star and former head coach of FCS program Jackson State, accepted the same position at Colorado over the weekend.

At his opening press conference, Sanders introduced his son, Shedeur Sanders, by saying, “And this is your quarterback.” The younger Sanders starred for Jackson State over the past two seasons, racking up 6,614 passing yards and 66 touchdowns.

Deion Sanders’ first meeting with the current team was also filmed.

“I want y’all to get ready to go ahead and jump in the portal and do whatever you’re gonna get because if more of you jump in, the more room you make,” Sanders told players.

“We’ve got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me,” he added. “And it’s Louis (Vuitton).”

McCown is the son of Josh McCown and nephew of Luke McCown, two former NFL quarterbacks. He was a three-star prospect coming out of high school.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA;  Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) runs the ball against The California Golden Bears during the second quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Oregon can stay unbeaten in Pac-12 vs. Colorado

Oregon’s seven straight wins have the Ducks ranked No. 8 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2022 season, and they’ll be heavy favorites to make it eight against Colorado in a matchup of the top and bottom teams in the Pac-12 Saturday afternoon in Boulder, Colo.

Oregon (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) might need the style points from a blowout win just to keep pace for a shot at a top-four spot in the CFP. But there is no overlooking the Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4) for the Ducks to get to the Pac-12 championship game, and perhaps even more success.

The Ducks are lighting up the scoreboard on offense. Since a 49-3 loss to now-CFP No. 3 Georgia to open the season, Oregon has not lost and has scored no fewer than 41 points in each of its seven straight wins.

Oregon has won 27 straight games when the Ducks scored 40 or more points. The Ducks have totaled 500 or more yards of offense in five straight games and have given up just one sack this season.

Quarterback Bo Nix leads the way on offense. He has three games with three rushing touchdowns, leads the conference in rushing touchdowns with 11 and has thrown 20 touchdown passes.

Oregon’s offense averages 525.8 yards per game to lead the Pac-12. Conversely, Colorado is last in the league in total offense at 295.3 yards per game.

Defensive back Christian Gonzalez, who was a top player for Colorado in his two seasons there before transferring to Oregon prior to this season, had eight tackles and blocked a field goal last weekend at Cal. Gonzalez will face his former team Saturday.

“We’re going to celebrate our wins, but as an offense and as a defense there’s things we’ve got to work on,” Gonzalez said, per Oregon’s athletics website. “We can finish out a game better as a defense. It’s just getting back to work, being humble and hungry.”

Colorado will face its third top-12 program of the season in Oregon, as TCU and UCLA have risen to Nos. 7 and 12, respectively. The Buffaloes still have at least two more current top-25 opponents on their schedule, Southern California and Utah.

In a 42-34 home loss to Arizona State last week, Colorado scored a season-high 34 points. Jordyn Tyson had an 88-yard punt return for a score and caught a 58-yard touchdown pass for the Buffaloes.

Deion Smith rushed for 111 yards, a career high.

Defensively, Colorado struggled in pass coverage against the Sun Devils and were often victimized by big plays. Arizona State had 15 plays in which it gained at least 10 rushing yards or at least 15 yards on a pass completion.

“Our offense goes and has a tremendous drive, the defense has to get a stop,” Colorado interim head coach Mike Sanford said via the team website. “Those are the things I believe we’re going to piece together throughout the course of these next four weeks.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell during the first quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado fires head coach Karl Dorrell after 0-5 start

After an 0-5 start to the season, including two consecutive defeats in Pac-12 Conference play, Colorado fired head coach Karl Dorrell and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson on Sunday.

The moves come one day after Colorado absorbed a 43-20 defeat at Arizona. The Buffaloes allowed at least 38 points in each game this season, with opponents averaging 43.2 points per game.

Dorrell, 59, was in his third season at Colorado, with his teams going 8-15.

“I want to thank Karl for his hard work in leading our program since 2020,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “Ultimately, however, the results on the field did not measure up to our expectations and standards, which made it necessary for us to make this change at this time.”

Dorrell spent most of his career as an NFL assistant following a run as head coach at his alma mater UCLA from 2003-07. He was on the staffs of the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and New York Jets since 2008.

Wilson, 53, has an extensive resume as a college coach, but came to Colorado along with Dorrell in 2020 after four seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

In eight total seasons as a head coach with UCLA and Colorado, Dorrell was 43-42. Colorado lost to UCLA 45-17 in Dorrell’s final home game with the Buffaloes on Sept. 24.

Dorrell was halfway through a five-year contract and will receive an $8.7 million buyout from the university, paid in installments.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura (7) fumbles after being hit by California Golden Bears linebacker Orin Patu (48) during the third quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona, Colorado look for Pac-12 breakthrough

Arizona is focusing on improving its rushing defense ahead of the Wildcats’ Pac-12 home opener against winless Colorado on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) gave up 354 rushing yards in a 49-31 loss at Cal last week and allowed 283 in a win over FCS North Dakota State a week earlier. Arizona ranks 125th out of 131 teams nationally against the run.

“Tackling would always be the starting point,” said Arizona coach Jedd Fisch, vowing an increased emphasis on fundamentals in drills this week. “It’s that first tackle that (they’re) breaking through. I think the other part of it is that we weren’t necessarily in our gaps.”

It’s debatable as to whether the Buffaloes (0-4, 0-1) can take advantage. They haven’t scored more than 17 points in a game and have lost all four matchups by at least 25 points. They are averaging just 102.8 rushing yards a game and will be starting a true freshman quarterback, Owen McCown, for the second time.

In a 45-17 loss to UCLA, the Buffaloes managed just 51 yards on 34 rushing attempts. McCown completed 26 of 42 for 258 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also fumbled twice, although one of the UCLA recoveries was negated by penalty.

“I felt like he had an OK performance, close to a solid performance,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said. “Did he make some mistakes? Yes, a couple big turnovers that led to some scoring opportunities for UCLA. But his overall body of work was pretty solid.”

Not much else has been solid so far for the Buffaloes, who are last in the country in rushing defense (323.2 yards allowed per game).

Arizona has a deep stable of capable backs, but the focus of the offense has been quarterback Jayden de Laura, who has been hot and cold in his first season after transferring from Washington State. He has thrown for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns, but he has been intercepted six times and lost a fumble last week. His top target is Jacob Cowing (28 catches, 386 yards, six touchdowns).

The Wildcats have topped 30 points three times this season after doing so only once in 2021. But in their two games against teams from Power Five conferences, they have allowed an average of 44.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell before the game against the Washington Huskies  at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado, TCU each open season with QB choices to make

After weeks of training camp and evaluating players at every position, Colorado and TCU are going into battle Friday night with an air of mystery.

Both schools have capable quarterbacks but neither head coach will reveal who will start the opener for both teams.

So, the first-ever game between the schools will have some added anticipation attached to Friday’s meeting in Boulder, Colo.

The Buffaloes have two candidates to start Friday. Brendon Lewis is the incumbent but J.T. Shrout was ready to lead the Colorado offense last year before a knee injury in camp ended his season. He transferred to the Buffaloes in January 2021 after three seasons with Tennessee, but he did not play as a true freshman.

While Lewis is quicker and has more running ability, Shrout has the stronger arm.

“We feel good that they kind of feed off each other,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said. “They understand what we’re trying to do from a game plan standpoint. Just like I told them, they’re both going to play.”

Dorrell is in his third year at Colorado while Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes is in his first season with the program. This will be his 13th year as a head coach, with the last five at SMU where he was 30-18, including an 8-4 mark in 2021.

Dykes takes over for Gary Patterson, who led TCU for nearly 21 years, a 2010 Rose Bowl win and a shared Big 12 title in 2014.

The new coach’s first big decision is choosing between three-year starter Max Duggan and Chandler Morris, who played four games last season and led the Horned Frogs to an upset of then-No. 12 Baylor.

“For us it was a very important decision to make, and it’s a decision we needed more evidence to be able to make it,” Dykes said. “I felt like if you put on the Baylor game last year and watched Chandler play in that game, you’d go, ‘Well, this guy has to be a starting quarterback.’”

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Treyson Potts (3) scores in the fourth quarter after evading Miami (OH) Redhawks defensive back Sterling Weatherford (21), Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) follows at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Running game critical as Minnesota travels to Colorado

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and Colorado Buffaloes have something in common entering Saturday’s meeting in Boulder.

Both teams are 1-1 and the one loss came to a top-5 opponent in which they had a chance to pull off the upset.

Minnesota (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) bounced back after giving then-No. 3 Ohio State a scare in the first week of action, holding off Miami (OH) 31-26 at home last week. The Gophers leaned on running back Trey Potts, who rushed 34 times for 178 yards and two scores in the win.

Coach P.J. Fleck wants to ease the burden on Potts. It will take some time.

“There’ll be some more guys into the mix as we keep going forward, but it’s just consistency on a daily basis and being the best version of yourself,” Fleck said.

Potts may need some help simply because of the altitude in Boulder. Fleck said the team won’t arrive early to adjust not knowing if one additional day would benefit the team.

“We’re going to be there shortest amount of time as possible,” he said. “With your body, the longer you’re there, the more it’s going to affect you.”

The Buffaloes (1-1) came within 2:41 of beating a top-5 team for the first time in 14 years. Texas A&M squeaked out a 10-7 with a late TD, denying Colorado a potential chance to break into the Top 25.

To beat Minnesota, the Buffaloes must contain Potts.

Colorado held Texas A&M to 97 yards on the ground while rushing for 171.

The Buffaloes’ running game has taken pressure off freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis, who threw for just 89 yards last week. In the first two starts of his career he is averaging 95.5 yards passing but he has shown the ability to run, averaging 60 yards on the ground.

Colorado is relatively healthy going into Saturday’s matchup, with top back Jarek Broussard feeling fine. The Buffaloes did announce that wide receiver La’Vontae Shenault has been suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules.

Head coach Karl Dorrell said Tuesday that the door is still open for Shenault to return.

“I believe in rehabilitation but he has some things to do first,” Dorrell said.

–Field Level Media