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Friday, October 31, 2003
Buffaloes hopes to quash nation's top offense


LUBBOCK, Texas -- Colorado knows the potency of Texas Tech's offense. The Red Raiders lead the nation.

The Buffaloes also know the feebleness of Tech's defense. It's the worst of the 117 Division I teams, giving up 504 yards per game.

"We have to score on every series," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "You have got to finish every drive. If we use up a lot of time that's fine, but the key thing is to keep up in the scoring matchup."

Tech (5-3, 2-2) leads the nation in scoring offense (45 points) and total offense (615 yards) but is close to the bottom (113th) in allowing opponents to score (37 points).

When the two teams play Saturday night, each will be trying to win their first game in three.

Colorado (3-5, 1-3) lost 34-20 to No. 1 Oklahoma last week and 49-20 at Kansas State two weeks ago. As badly as Tech's defense has been lately, the Buffaloes' also is porous. It ranks 116th in scoring defense (39 points) and 111th in total defense (457 yards).

Colorado's performance against the Sooners, though, has created hope for Barnett.

"We're taking a team that has found a little pride and has evolved to where it's much better than it was two weeks ago, three weeks ago," he said. "We have to keep that evolution going."

Tech's defense, which earlier this season showed signs it could hold its own, gave up 597 total yards in a 62-31 loss at Missouri last week. Tiger quarterback Brad Smith rushed for 291 yards, 17 yards shy of the NCAA record for a quarterback, and threw for five touchdowns. It was the most points ever given up by a Tech defense.

In its 51-49 loss two weeks ago at then-No. 23 Oklahoma State, the defense gave up 673 total yards two weeks ago.

"This is a must win game and we are looking forward to being back at home." said Tech quarterback B.J. Symons, who leads the nation in passing with 3,914 yards and 36 touchdowns. "We're in a tough spot."

Barnett apparently has spoken to Oklahoma State's coach about how to play Tech. The gist was that against Tech a big lead means nothing.

"Les Miles told me, that even if you get up by 21, you have to think it's zero to zero because they just roar back. They did that against Missouri. They came out in the second half and just roared back and then threw a pick. That's their offense, they score so fast."

"We have to overcome the adversity," Tech coach Mike Leach said. "We came up two points short at Oklahoma State, and didn't play as good as we could have. We just lost focus against Missouri. Part of it was because of turnovers, and part of it was because we didn't stop them. We have to do both of those things, prevent turnovers and stop them."

Colorado needs to stop Symons, who has thrown for 400-plus yards in seven consecutive game. In the past two games, however, Symons has seemed less sharp, having thrown five interceptions, one against OSU that ended a potential game-winning drive down the stretch.

Tech also has a corps of receivers that includes two (Carlos Francis and Wes Welker) of the country's top 20 in receiving yards.

"You have to make plays on defense in order to win this game," Barnett said. "This team is hard to blitz because they get rid of the ball so fast."