Oregon opponent early scouting report: Colorado

We’re taking an early look at Oregon’s opponents for the 2023 regular season.
Game date & time: Autzen Stadium, Sept. 23
2022 record: (1-11)
Coach: Deion Sanders, first year (27-6)
Returning starters: 6 offense, 3 defense
Most important returning players: RB Anthony Hankerson, OL Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, DE Chance Main, S Trevor Woods
Most critical departures: WR Jordyn Tyson, LB Josh Chandler-Semedo, CB Nikko Reed
Oregon storylines:
Nikko Reed vs. former school
The Colorado transfer will get a chance to face his former team, much in the way Christian Gonzalez did in 2022.
Ducks defensive line vs. Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan
Oregon’s defensive line will get to renew acquaintances with the Colorado tackle, who had the notorious remarks about the interior of UO’s defensive line before last year’s game.
Pass rush, defense
This should be a fair assessment of Oregon’s pass rush and pass defense as a whole. Colorado’s offense has weapons and is going to have to score a lot of points to win games this season. Oregon’s defense is the most talented group the Buffs will have seen to this point. The Ducks should have ample opportunities to pressure Shedeur Sanders and contain him to the pocket as well. How Oregon’s defense executes at each level will be a real test.
Colorado storylines:
Deion Sanders
Colorado has generated more attention in the months since hiring the NFL Hall of Famer than in its entire tenure in the Pac-12. Even if Colorado is 0-3 entering this game, there will be national attention wherever Sanders is. If CU is anything better than 1-2 and Oregon is 3-0, this could easily be a national TV game.
Shedeur Sanders, Travis Hunter vs. Oregon defense
The most prominent Jackson State transfers, Sanders and Hunter are going to be two of CU’s biggest playmakers. Oregon’s defense will be the most talented group they have faced to this point.
Cormani McClain vs. Oregon’s receivers
McClain was another premier recruit to follow Deion Sanders. He was committed to Miami and Oregon was among the many to pursue him as well. UO’s receiving corps will be the best McClain has seen in his brief career at this point and those will be significant matchups no matter who he’s lined up against.
An Oregon win would mean:
Opening Pac-12 play with a win and likely improving to either 3-1 or 4-0 entering a trip to Stanford before the bye week. It’ll also be 10 of 11 and four straight wins over CU, which Oregon probably won’t see again for a long time. If the defense and pass rush show out it’ll also be a boost to those units from a national credibility perspective.
An Oregon loss would mean:
A massive disappointment on what will likely be a national stage. Even if Colorado is somehow 2-1 entering this game, the Buffs do not have the talent yet to contend for a conference title. An upset here would be a monumental signature win for Sanders and a potentially devastating blow to UO given the second half of its schedule. With a loss to Texas Tech another loss would end CFP hopes before October.

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