There are two schools of thought when it comes to sporting events played at high altitudes: one believing that factoring altitude into matchups is meaningless over-analysis and that it doesn’t impact a matchup.
The other is believing that athletes must take playing at elevation very seriously, as it’s tougher to breathe in the thin air.
Regardless of how you feel, it’s fun to speculate, especially in a game one team has little real threat of losing.
It will take a miracle for Colorado to beat Oregon this week, with or without Darron Thomas, with or without LaMichael James.
The Ducks are deep, with capable backups, and the Buffaloes are just as banged up.
But, even if they still win, will the Ducks have a tougher time doing so at more than a mile above sea level this weekend?
“Whether it is or isn’t a problem, there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Oregon coach Chip Kelly this week.
“So there’s nothing for us to talk about.”
The players aren’t scientists but they at least seem more positive about it than Kelly. Left guard Carson York suggested that their indoor practices at the Moshofsky Center prepare them for thin air because the ventilation is poor with the air trapped in a dome.
Tight end David Paulson believes up-tempo practices will get the Ducks’ cardio at a level high-enough to withstand the altitude in Boulder.
The truth is that we won’t know how much of a factor altitude truly is until Colorado fields a healthier, more competitive team.
Altitude or not, Saturday’s game is Oregon’s to lose.