CU Buffs vs. Texas A&M football: What to know, matchups, predictions

No. 5 Texas A&M (1-0) vs. Colorado (1-0); 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Empower Field at Mile High

TV/Radio: KDVR-31/850 AM, 94.1 FM

Line: Texas A&M -17, 50.5 over/under

Weather: 91 degrees, mostly cloudy

What to know

Starting slow. CU and Texas A&M scored blowout wins over Northern Colorado (35-7) and Kent State (41-10), respectively, in Week 1, but both stumbled out of the gates. In the Buffs’ case, the score was 14-0 at half, with three of their first five drives three-and-outs. As for the Aggies, they were up just 10-3 at the break thanks to a pair of Haynes King interceptions. A quick start could go a long way for either team.

Aggies’ brick wall. CU may not face a more talented defensive front all season than what it will encounter Saturday. Defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal is the sixth-rated prospect on Mel Kiper’s 2022 Big Board and anchors a defense that was No. 2 in the nation against the run in 2020. With 12 of A&M’s top 15 tacklers from that unit back, Jarek Broussard and Co. will have to earn every inch of Mile High turf.

SEC speed. The Buffs’ young secondary was mostly up to the task against UNC last week, with lone upperclassman Mekhi Blackmon coming up with an end zone interception and the Bears averaging just 5.6 yards per pass. But CU’s coverage unit will have to be even better against A&M’s pass catchers — a group that includes future NFL tight end Jalen Wydermyer and do-everything receiver Ainias Smith.

Penalty problems. One of the reasons for the Buffs’ stop-and-start performance in their season opener: 12 penalties for 118 yards. Repeat that against A&M, which had flag issues of its own in Week 1 (6-70), and it will be a long afternoon in Denver.

Key matchups

A&M RBs vs. Buffs defense. The Aggies have NFL talent up front (LT Kenyon Green is a sure-fire first-round pick) and two backs who can take advantage of it in junior Isaiah Spiller and sophomore Devon Achane. Both ran for over 100 yards against Kent State in Week 1, and their combination of thunder (Spiller) and lightning (Achane) will test a Buffs defense that allowed just 20 yards on 18 carries last week. NT Jalen Sami and CU’s talented linebacker corps need a repeat performance.

Freshman vs. Freshman. Which freshman QB will rise to the occasion in their first start against Power 5 competition? Brendon Lewis showed flashes against UNC, but wasn’t asked to do too much (10 of 15, 102 yards) in CU’s vanilla game plan. That will change against an A&M defense sure to force several third-and-long situations. Meanwhile, Haynes King threw for 292 yards last week but was also intercepted three times. If CU can get A&M off schedule, King is just green enough to make mistakes.

Predictions

Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter: A&M 42, CU 20

The talent gap is simply too wide for the Buffs to stand a chance in this one.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: A&M 35, CU 20

A top 5 takedown in Week 2 is probably too much to ask of Brendon Lewis this soon. He’ll get there.

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: A&M 31, CU 17

The Aggies have way too much size and talent in the trenches for the Buffs to handle.

Source: Read Full Article