Friday’s Fast Facts

Five Keys to CU success against Colorado State

From … Ask most coaches and they’ll tell you the toughest game of the year to plan is the opener. You haven’t seen the other team play, there are new players in the lineup and often new coaches on the sideline.

It means your most valuable research tool is game film from a year ago, which limits much of your game planning to educated guesses.

But there are some things the Colorado Buffaloes do know about the Colorado State Rams (and vice versa), certainties that are virtually guaranteed to manifest themselves when the two square off Friday in Denver (6 p.m., ESPN) for the 88th game in the series.

Thus, we bring you our first Fast Five of the season, areas we believe will be essential to the Buffs if they are to win their season opener for just the second time in Mike MacIntyre‘s four years in Boulder:

1. Contain CSU’s run game …

2. Start fast …

3. Win the special teams battle …

4. Force takeaways, limit turnovers …

5. Establish some tempo on offense …

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Thursday’s Fast Facts


Big Picture

— Colorado is 685-490-36 all-time (.581). The Buffs are tied for 25th in all-time victories; 29th in all-time winning percentage (for schools with at least 1,000 games);

— Colorado is 77-44-5 all-time in season openers. In the 77 seasons CU opened with a victory, the Buffs went on to a winning season 60 times (77.9%). In the 44 seasons CU has opened with a loss, the Buffs have only gone on to a winning season 19 times (43.2%) … CU is 1-4 in season openers since joining the Pac-12;

— As of the end of the business day Wednesday, CU had sold 31,789 tickets, including 7,590 student tickets. With two business days remaining, Colorado was a mere seven overall tickets short of last year’s total sale for the game (31,796) while having already surpassed last year’s student ticket total (7,145). As was the case last year, about 30% of CU’s season ticket holders have opted out of buying tickets for the game);

— The game will be telecast nationally by ESPN, with Adam Amin on the play-by-play, former Texas coach Mack Brown on color; and Molly McGrath on the sidelines. KOA radio will have Mark Johnson starting his 13th year with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett beginning his first year as the full-time analyst.


Buffs v. Rams

— The Buffs lead the all-time series against Colorado State 63-22-2, with a 9-6 advantage in games played in Denver;

— In all sports (including now defunct match-ups such as wrestling and gymnastics), Colorado has a significant advantage, 513-222-9 (.695), over Colorado State;

— Since the series resumed in 1983, Colorado has a 20-8 advantage. The Buffs are 6-0 when rushing for more than 250 yards; 12-2 when holding the Rams to under 100 yards rushing;

— Colorado is 127-42-4 all-time vs. current members of the Mountain West Conference; Colorado State is 52-161-5 against current members of the Pac-12;

— Colorado has 34 players from the state of Colorado on its roster; CSU has 37;

— Neither team has come into the Rocky Mountain Showdown with a national ranking since 2003 (when an unranked CU squad defeated No. 23 CSU, 42-35, in a lighting-delayed game);

— Last season, Colorado finished 100th or worse in the nation in only two major statistical categories: Quarterback sacks allowed (116th); and Red Zone Scoring Percentage – Offense (120th). Meanwhile, Colorado State finished 100th or worse in the nation in at least eight categories, including: Rushing Defense (106th); Penalties per game (113th); Turnover Margin (117th); and Red Zone Percentage Defense (100th);

— So, yes, in case you missed it, when CU has the ball in the CSU red zone, it will be a classic battle of weakness v. weakness.


2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown … Colorado 27, Colorado State 24 (OT)

— In last season’s Rocky Mountain Showdown – a 27-24 Colorado overtime victory – Colorado State put up more total yards (500 to 345); more first downs (27 to 18), more rushing yards (218 to 125) and more passing yards (282 to 220);

— The Buffs rallied from a 14-0 deficit to win the game, tied for the eighth-largest comeback in Colorado history;

— Last season, CSU running back Dalyn Dawkins rushed 20 times for a career-high 118 yards against the Buffs. He also caught six passes for 59 yards;

— What won the 2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown for the Buffs? The Rams had the ball on the CU side of the field 11 times, but came away with just four scores.


Statistically speaking

— Colorado may have been awful in red zone opportunities in 2015 (70.4%; 120th in the nation), but the Buffs have traditionally been good in the red zone in season openers, going 27-for-30 over the past ten seasons (2-for-4 v. Hawai’i last season, including the failure to score in the controversial ending);

— Improving point differential gives CU fans hope for the 2016 season … While the Buffs aren’t yet winning their fair share of Pac-12 games, they are getting closer. The point differential in Pac-12 games: -192 (2011); -276 (2012); -215 (2013); -124 (2014); -114 (2015);

— Colorado has scored 300-plus points in three straight seasons for the first time since 2001-03. The Buffs were out-scored, 164-150, in the second half last season, which is not great, but it’s getting better … it was the closest margin since 2009 (for comparison … in 2014, the Buffs were out-scored 233-143 in the second half);

— Colorado’s opponents in 2016 went a combined 90-65 last season, with ten of the 12 teams going bowling last year (Idaho State and Oregon State being the exceptions)


Player Notes

— The Buffs have played a combined 1,072 games in their careers, the most since 2005 (1,080);

— The returning players have started a combined 412 games, the most-ever in school history (and by a wide margin. the highest-total previously was 333 combined starts by the 1979 team);

— Five players have been selected as captains for this season: quarterback Sefo Liufau; linebacker Kenneth Olugbode; fullback/tight end George Frazier; offensive tackle Jeromy Irwin; and tailback Phillip Lindsay.

— In being selected as a team captain for a third consecutive year, Sefo Liufau becomes just the second Buff in school history to earn that honor. The other? You have to go back to the 19th century, when Pat Carney was the team captain in 1891-92-93);

— Gone too soon … there was some attrition over the summer, but not as bad as previous seasons. Senior defensive end Tyler Henington, who missed the last two seasons due to injury, decided to call it a career … Class of 2016 recruit Ca’Ron Baham came to Boulder in June, but decided to continue his career closer to home (Monroe, Louisiana) … Running back Patrick Carr also returned home, transferring to the University of Houston.


Pac-12 Notes

— Rio Olympics … If the Pac-12 were listed as a separate country, the conference would have finished fifth in overall medals. Past and present athletes from the Pac-12 won 55 medals (25 gold, 13 silver, 17 bronze). The Pac-12 would have been behind only the USA (121), China (70), Great Britain (67), and Russia (56);

— A record ten teams participated in bowl games last year. This year, USC has 11 bowl games on its schedule, with the only non-bowl participant being … Colorado. (The Buffs face ten bowl teams);

— Nine different Pac-12 teams were ranked in the AP Top 25 at one point during the 2015 season, with five teams reaching the Top 10;

— The Pac-12 went 35-12 in non-conference play last season, and 72-21 over the past two seasons;

— Eleven of 12 schools in the conference will face at least one non-conference school which played in a bowl game last season (Washington, with Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State being the lone exception);

— The Pac-12 opens the season with five teams ranked in the Top 25 (No. 8 Stanford; No. 14 Washington; No. 16 UCLA; No. 20 USC; and No. 24 Oregon). This is the fourth consecutive year with at least five teams in the preseason Top 25.




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