Stanford’s game at Colorado on Saturday should provide the Cardinal with a routine win before it tackles its final three difficult games in its bid for a Pac-12 Conference championship.
After all, the Buffaloes (1-7) are last in the conference in scoring offense, scoring defense and total defense, and they have lost four in a row, all by at least 28 points. Plus, they are coming off a confidence-draining 70-14 loss to Oregon, which led 56-0 at halftime.
It would seem the Cardinal should cure its offensive woes against a Colorado team that is winless at home this season.
Indeed, the Cardinal (6-2) seem likely on paper to win the game convincingly, but two things are cause for pause before the Cardinal turns its attention to the games against Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA.
For one thing, the Cardinal’s offensive performance in Saturday’s game against Washington State should prevent anyone from believing Stanford can overwhelm any opponent with offensive firepower.
Against a Cougars defense that was ranked 10th in the Pac-12, Stanford could do little offensively. The Cardinal won the game 24-17, but one of the Cardinal touchdowns was scored by its defense, and the Cardinal running game was noticeably deficient.
And that game was at Stanford, where the Cardinal offense has been considerably better than it has been on the road. Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes has struggled on the road, so questions remain as to whether the Cardinal can beat up on anyone, especially away from Stanford Stadium. And this week, Nunes will share the load with redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan, who is expected to play up to 20 snaps.
Stanford can count on its defense to keep Colorado’s offense in check, but the Cardinal’s habit of playing low-scoring games, especially on the road, leaves little room for error. Stanford has not scored more than 21 points in any road game, although none of those opponents were as porous defensively as Colorado.