Colorado has a better team and more hope this season under first-year coach Mike MacIntyre, who is in the early stages of trying to resurrect a moribund program that won four of 24 games over the previous two seasons.

The Buffaloes are 2-0 after wins over Colorado State (41-27) and FCS opponent Central Arkansas (38-24). Like Oregon State, they have a vaunted pitch-and-catch duo in quarterback Connor Wood and receiver Paul Richardson. The latter, a 6-1, 170-pound junior, is off to a tremendous start with 21 receptions for 417 yards and four touchdowns in the two games.

Colorado hasn't played since its Sept. 7 victory over Central Arkansas. Its Sept. 14 game against Fresno State was postponed due to flooding in the Boulder area, and the Buffaloes had a bye last Saturday. A bye week is always a good thing, offering rest and extra preparation for the upcoming opponent. I'm not so sure about two weeks.

"I'd like to have a week off, but not three," says McIntyre, meaning three weeks between games.

Oregon State has some experience with such a thing. In 2001, Dennis Erickson's Beavers had a game against Northern Arizona postponed after 9/11, followed by a bye. When they finally played again three weeks later, the Orangemen were hammered 38-7 at home by UCLA.

This is a game the Beavers must win if they hope to make a bowl game at season's end. They're a better team that Colorado, which returns a league-high 19 starters from last year's 1-11 club. That's a mixed blessing, of course. A lot of returnees from a bad team don't always equate to success the following year.

The Beavers must eliminate some of the mistakes that nearly cost them last Saturday. The odds are against them snatching victory from the jaws of defeat as they've done in victories at Utah and San Diego State.

OSU will try to establish a running game, but I don't see much of that happening with the piecemeal offensive line that will start against Colorado. The Beavers probably will be forced to throw for most of their yardage against a Buffalo defense that can't be considered among the Pac-12's elite.

Oregon State's defense needs to play as it did in the second half against San Diego State. The Beavers must contain the 6-4, 210-pound Wood, who reminds OSU coaches of Utah's Travis Wilson. And they have to keep a handle on Richardson, who has Brandin Cooks-like numbers in his first two outings.

Should be a Beaver win, but I don't see it coming easily.

THE PICK: Oregon State 31, Colorado 20

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