BOULDER, Co. — Saturday’s clash with Texas A&M will be Colorado’s first game against a top-five team since 2016.
The matchup moves the needle because both squads are former Big 12 foes, it’s the Pac-12 against the SEC and will be played in an NFL venue. All of the Colorado players, coaches and fans are excited for the rare opportunity, including star linebacker Nate Landman. After all, the action will take place in Denver, which gives the Buffaloes the home field advantage.
The Aggies have a rock star coach in Jimbo Fisher, who has a National Championship under his belt. He has been to the Playoffs and coached a Heisman Trophy winner. Not to mention Fisher is one of the highest-paid coaches in the sport. Texas A&M’s roster is full of high-caliber recruits and NFL talent.
However, Coach Karl Dorrell has been put in the David vs. Goliath scenario before and came out victorious. It’s hard to forget when Dorrell was at UCLA and pulled off the monumental upset over Pete Carroll and USC. The Buffaloes are big underdogs against the Aggies and no is really giving them a chance to win the game.
Regardless, Landman believes in his coaches and teammates. Colorado’s defense been practicing hard all week and Landman understands the magnitude of the matchup.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to treat this like a game that’ll put us back on the map and this program back where it used to be,” Landman said.
Texas A&M looked sluggish on offense in last week’s win over Kent State. Although the Aggies racked up 595 yards of total offense, including 303 on the ground, they turned the ball over five times. Freshman quarterback Haynes King looked like a deer in headlights at times and threw three interceptions.
Landman, who’s going to be one of Colorado’s four captains Saturday, has studied film all week. He understands there’s a chance Fisher could’ve been conservative with the playbook and not exposed too much to Colorado on purpose. Still, the Buffaloes’ defense turned up the intensity throughout this week. The unit focused on disrupting passes and breaking on balls. Which is why Landman is expecting the unit to be ready.
“I think winning percentage goes up tremendously if you win the turnover battle,” he said. “So that’s our goal as a defense each week is to keep our turnovers over three if we can.”
The All-Pac-12 defender is coming off a solid performance in his first game back from a torn achilles, and led the Buffaloes with four solo tackles against the Bears. Landman is trying to keep the momentum going against a team from the almighty SEC. There’s no denying the Aggies are going to be a huge measuring stick for the Buffaloes.
Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane both went over 100 yards rushing last week, so stopping the run will be priority No. 1 for Colorado. Aggies wide receiver Ainias Smith showed he can stretch the field, with eight catches, 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the win. The Buffaloes’ secondary will need to keep Smith in check and limit his touches.
This game will be won in the trenches and could come down to field position, so Landman and the Buffaloes are expecting a big dogfight. Dorrell is still searching for that signature win. Taking down Texas A&M would be a program-changing victory in Landman’s eyes.
“It does have the potential to be a huge confidence booster,” he said. “In the long run and throughout the season, and set a benchmark on how the season can go for weeks to come.”
Once all the smoke clears Saturday night, one team will be leaving Mile High Stadium undefeated.