College Football: Which Is the Most Dangerous Team in the Pac-12?

John McKelveyContributor IIIJuly 28, 2011

Colorado could be tearing down the goal posts as they did versus Oklahoma in 2007 once again in 2011
Colorado could be tearing down the goal posts as they did versus Oklahoma in 2007 once again in 2011Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Teams traveling to Boulder should be afraid, very afraid.

The Buffaloes seem to be the most overlooked team in the Pac-12 South, but they are certainly a team that could make a lot of noise.

Teams such as Oregon, Arizona and USC are making the trip up north after games that are very important in 2011 (Arizona State, Stanford and Utah, respectively). Their might not be a lot of attention paid to the Buffaloes if those teams pick up monumental home wins.

A loss at Colorado would be a season killer for all three, but might not be as unlikely as people think.

Colorado has become somewhat of a giant killer over the last decade. Nebraska in 2001, Kansas State in 2002, Oklahoma in 2003 and 2007, West Virginia in 2008 and Kansas in 2009 all were good teams who met their demise at Folsom Field.

To go along with the history, the Buffs field a decent team filled with returning starters, nine back on offense and seven on defense. That includes both QB Tyler Hansen, who had a 68.3 completion percentage last year, and Rodney Stewart, who had 1,318 yards and 10 TDs in 2011.

The team should get even better run production with four of the five offensive linemen back. Phil Steele agrees saying, "This is a talented group which should post their best rush numbers since at least '06."

A rush offense is very important when it comes to upsets as the team will have to run out the clock if it gets the lead. Also important is a good kicker, something Colorado is not really accustomed to in the last couple of years.

Last year, Aric Goodman hit only 5-for-10 from beyond 30-plus yards. That will be improved this year by sophomore Justin Caston who was very good in high school hitting five 40-plus yard field goals in his senior year. He has a bigger leg than Goodman and should feel at home in Boulder with one year under his belt.

While Caston is not the best kicker in the nation, he will be a contender in a conference that welcomes eight new starters this fall. Also out of the four returning, Arizona's Alex Zendejas, California's Giorgio Tavecchio and Washington's Erik Folk, have all shown major inconsistencies at the position.

Zendejas has a problem with his PATs as noted against ASU, Tavecchio only made 4-of-8 from 30-49 yards in 2011 including a big miss on a go-ahead FG against Oregon last year, and Erik Polk only hit 13-of-20 last year including a measly 4-of-11 from beyond 40 yards.

The other statistic weighing in Colorado's favor is they were tied for second in sacks in a very good pass rushing Big 12 last year. Great QB play will be a stable of the conference as always, so if the Buffaloes can get to the QB as much as they did last year then they will find success.

Also, of those three big teams they play at home, their opponents only bring back four combined O-line starters.