BOULDER — Who says the Buffs don’t have a snowball’s chance in Bermuda against Texas A&M on Saturday? Here’s a list of the last six starting quarterbacks to beat the Aggies since 2019, in reverse chronological order:
Mac Jones, Joe Burrow, Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, Bo Nix, Trevor Lawrence.
NFL first-round draft pick, NFL overall No. 1 pick, NFL fifth-round draft pick, NFL top 5 draft pick, future NFL draft pick, NFL overall No. 1 pick.
Over the last two autumns, the sixth-ranked Aggies, who’ll tangle with CU (1-0) at Empower Field at Mile High, are 17-6. And those other 17 starting quarterbacks wound up getting whupped by an average margin of 38-19.
Brendon Lewis, the floor is yours. The floor and the albatross.
“It’s a big game, playing at Mile High,” Lewis, CU’s freshman quarterback, said late last Friday after leading the Buffs to a 35-7 rout of Ed McCaffrey’s UNC Bears in the season-opener for both programs.
“We’re (treating) every game we play as a really big game … we know (A&M is) a big game, but we’re not going to try to get to where we’re distracted, and stuff like that.”
They don’t have to be perfect, these Buffs. But they do have to be clean. Cleaner than they looked against the Fighting McCaffreys, anyway. Vegas pegs CU as anywhere from a 14-to-17-point underdog, despite the altitude.
“We all know what’s in front of us,” CU coach Karl Dorrell said of his squad, which won comfortably at Folsom Field despite getting flagged 12 times for a whopping 118 penalty yards. “The penalties will take you out of the game.”
Especially a game against the Aggies (1-0), who opened the season this past Saturday night by stomping Kent State at home, 41-10.
If there’s some hope for CU faithful to cuddle, it’s that A&M quarterback Haynes King — a freshman, who, like Lewis, just made his starting debut — had a bumpy ride against the Golden Flashes: 292 passing yards, two touchdowns, three picks.
On the flip side, the Aggies never punted. And while Kent State rushed for 226 yards, the Flashes came away with only one touchdown out of four trips to the red zone.
Starting quarterback Dustin Crum was sacked three times, while backup Collin Schlee got taken down twice. Kent State returned 10 starters from an offense that averaged 4.1 points per drive a year ago, according to BCFToys.com, making it the third most-efficient scoring offense in the country. That offense managed only 10 points and 336 yards on the evening. A&M, meanwhile, piled up 595 yards, 292 of them on the ground.
From a talent standpoint, what CU did to the Bears, the Aggies could do just as easily to the Buffs. It depends on how well CU inverts a litany of Week 1 sins. If any rust lingers, you’re toast.
It depends on Lewis, who played his prep ball in Melissa, Texas, about three-and-a-half hours north of the A&M campus in College Station. The kid’s first CU start was as solid — 10-of-15 passing for 102 yards and a touchdown through the air, another 44 yards on the ground — as it was inconclusive.
The Buffs were careful not to show much, having to adjust on the fly to a defense they’d never seen before from a UNC staff that had yet to coach together during a regular-season game at the collegiate level. But the Bears also offered up the weakest opposing defense, at least in terms of personnel, that CU is likely to face all season.
On the plus side, if Lewis got fooled or a play broke down, he usually managed to run to daylight or chuck the ball away. On the other hand, several of those 10 completions came with all kinds of time in the pocket.
Time he won’t have against Power 5 squads. And time he almost certainly won’t have against the Aggies.
“I felt I played decent,” Lewis said. “(I) definitely need to play better, so I’m kind of disappointed in the way I played. (I) missed a few throws. But I’m just going to come back (in Week 2) and get better and better for A&M (on Saturday).”
The last half-dozen QBs to beat the Aggies averaged 19 completions on 29 attempts, 269 passing yards and two touchdown throws. So, no, Lewis doesn’t have to be perfect. He doesn’t have to be Lawrence or Jones for the Buffs to make A&M sweat. But it sure as heck wouldn’t hurt to be close.
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