TBA, Sept. 24 TV: TBA Ohio Stadium (102,329)

Coach: Jon Embree, first season at school and overall

Last year: 5-7 overall, 2-6 Big 12 (fifth in North Division)

Returning stars

Brookhaven graduate Rodney Stewart, all 5 feet 6 and 175 pounds of him, is the Buffaloes' most reliable offensive player. After rushing for 1,318 yards as a junior, he is within 1,196 yards of reaching the school record held by his position coach, Eric Bieniemy. Paul Richardson set a number of school freshman receiving records and was involved in four of the seven longest plays from scrimmage last season.

Newcomers to watch

Freshman Greg Henderson could start at the depleted cornerback position. Freshman Will Oliver was named the starting kicker early in camp. Another diminutive runner, redshirt freshman Tony Jones, or sophomore walk-on Josh Ford could spell Stewart.

Keys to the offense

Embree, a Colorado alum who previously coached in the NFL, wants the Buffaloes to become a tougher team, which could mean an emphasis on the running game and pounding the ball in a pro-style offense. Running that offense is senior quarterback Tyler Hansen, who was completing nearly 70 percent of his passes in 2010 before his season was ended by a ruptured spleen in the seventh game.

Keys to the defense

Colorado opponents averaged 400 yards and nearly 31 points a game, much of it against a pass defense that is still in flux because of a revolving door at cornerback. The culprit, though, was the front, which put too little pressure on opposing passers. New coordinator Greg Brown has to find a way to raise the temperature in the trenches.

Special teams standout

Toney Clemons averaged 25.5 yards on 10 kickoff returns.

Question marks

Will Hansen get rid of the ball quicker than he did a year ago and help reduce the 16 sacks he took? Who will he have to throw to besides Richardson? Can the defense reduce the numbers it yielded a year ago, especially with the inexperience at cornerback in a wide-open league? If not, the Buffs have no chance.


Embree, who played at Colorado under Bill McCartney, is trying to return the culture to what it was in that era. He has his work cut out. The Buffs also are entering unfamiliar territory with their maiden season in the Pac-12 Conference. They were picked to finish last in the South Division.