BOULDER Ninth-ranked Oregons top two offensive threats might not play this weekend. That normally would cause the Colorado Buffaloes to exult or at least exhale.
Nowadays, though, they barely muster smiles through so many grimaces.
The Buffaloes (1-6, 0-3 Pac-12) are so banged up theyll be without more than a dozen players Saturday, so it might not matter whos taking snaps or handoffs for the Ducks (5-1, 3-0) when they visit Folsom Field.
The Ducks are more than four-touchdown favorites even if they wont have quarterback Darron Thomas (sprained knee) and running back LaMichael James (dislocated elbow), the nations leading rusher, to drive Oregons fast-paced offense.
Its part of the game. Its life, Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. Youre going to get knocked down in life. Its not a sin to get knocked down; its a sin to stay down. Feeling sorry for yourself isnt going to make anyone better.
If loathing or lamenting helped heal injuries, the Buffs would be in full-blown heartache.
The Buffs are missing most of their biggest playmakers, including top tailback Rodney Stewart and leading tackler Douglas Rippy, both of whom were hurt in a loss at Washington last week.
Stewart is out for up to a month with a severely sprained knee, depriving Colorado of its best offensive player and the senior of his shot at breaking the schools career rushing record. His cousin, Rippy, a junior inside linebacker, is out for the year with a torn ACL.
Rippy has 62 tackles and three sacks, and Stewart accounts for 38 percent of Colorados offense. He leads the Buffs with 473 yards rushing and is second in both catches (28) and yards receiving (435) and averages 167 all-purpose yards a game.
The Buffs also will be without senior receiver Kyle Cefalo, who sprained a knee against the Huskies, and quarterback Tyler Hansens top target in Paul Richardson (knee). On defense, senior cornerbacks Brian Lockridge (ankle) and Travis Sandersfeld (leg) also are hurt.
The injury epidemic in Boulder has reached historic proportions.
The Buffaloes have lost a total of 59 games to injuries by players who figured in either the two-deep roster or prominently on special teams this season, according to associate athletic director David Plati. Thats about a 20-percent absentee rate, which projects to the second-highest figure in the last quarter-century at Colorado.
There is a bit of good news for the Buffs, who should get senior outside linebacker Josh Hartigan back from a shoulder injury Saturday, and senior Shawn Daniels might shore up the offensive line now that hes recovered from a calf injury.
And theres something else that might slow down the quick-strike Ducks, who are averaging almost 49 points despite a nearly 35-25 deficit in the time of possession altitude.
Boulder is almost 5,000 feet higher than Eugene, Ore., making a no-huddle offense a little more lung searing.
Were going to turn the whole (practice center) into a hyperbaric chamber, Kelly said wise. Theres nothing we can do about it so we dont really talk about it.
The Ducks dont do a lot of standing around. Half of their 38 touchdown drives this season have taken 1 minute, 39 seconds or less.
Its not just their offense, its their whole team, Buffaloes coach Jon Embree said. The thing that jumps out about them is their speed. They have great speed at all of their skill positions. They do a tremendous job of making you defend the whole field, vertically and horizontally.
So theyre fast and deep.
The backups to the backups are good, Hartigan said. Everybody is fast on that team.
Thats why neither team is expecting much of a difference if Thomas and James are on the sideline Saturday. Bryan Bennett would replace Thomas, and Kenjon Barner would take James place.
Kelly said his game plan doesnt change without his two biggest stars.
His junior quarterback was hurt when an Arizona State player landed on his legs in last weekends win over the Sun Devils, but Bennett stepped in, and the Ducks didnt slow down.
Barner ran for 171 yards and a score against Arizona State in place of James, who was averaging 170.4 yards a game before getting hurt Oct. 6, and freshman DeAnthony Thomas added 73 yards and two more touchdowns while accounting for 203 all-purpose yards.
Embree said he saw little difference in Oregons offense with James out.
No, and no disrespect to LaMichael, hes a great back, but Oregon is at the point where they put in some guys like that and they keep the production up, Embree said. Not a big drop-off.
The Buffaloes, on the other hand, dont have much depth and arent very healthy as they trudge through their 13-game season without the benefit of a single bye week to soothe their aches and pains except for Hansen, that is.
Im actually totally 100 percent healthy, Hansen said. The last three weeks Ive kind of had some soreness, some nicks and pains here and there. After the Washington game I felt good. I dont know why. Something must have happened. I dont know why, I wasnt sore at all. I feel good.
And that makes him the odd man out around here.
I know, he said. Im the weird guy.
AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson contributed to this story.