Colorado at Utah: “T.I.P.S.” for Buffs’ last chance at bowl eligbility

 

A chip and a chair.

In poker tournaments, as long as you have a chip to bet with, and a chair at the table, you are not out of it.

Both Colorado and Utah are 5-6. The winner of Saturday’s game gets a bowl game, a month of extra practices, and a positive bounce going forward into the 2018 season.

“At the end of the day that’s what we’re playing the game for, to go to a bowl game,” said CU running back Phillip Lindsay. “That’s what we’re looking forward to, executing Saturday, getting the win and having fun at our bowl game.”

The loser, meanwhile, goes home as the last place team in the Pac-12 South.

Just a few short weeks ago, both Colorado and Utah were sporting 5-4 records, each with three chances to claim win No. 6 and a bowl berth.

Both teams have lost their last two games, leaving both with but one chance at redemption.

A chip and a chair …

 

This week’s “T.I.P.S.” for CU at Utah … Sat., 8:00 p.m. MT, FS1

 

T – Talent 

I thought we were done with this guy.

Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington (No. 9) had two touchdown receptions for the Ducks in the game against Colorado last season in Eugene.

Carrington was a junior last season, and the Buffs did not have to play the Ducks in 2017.

So, no worries about facing Carrington this fall …

That was, of course, until Carrington got booted from Oregon for yet another arrest (this time a DUI) … and landed in Salt Lake City.

Carrington is Utah’s leading receiver – 60 catches for 854 yards and six touchdowns – even though Carrington has missed most of the past two games. Carrington sat out the Washington State game, and had only two catches for 24 yards in limited time against Washington.

Carrington is reportedly getting healed up, and should be available for the CU game.

Just CU’s luck …

Throwing the ball to Carrington is quarterback Tyler Huntley (No. 1). The sophomore ranks 15th in the nation in total offense, with 302.9 yards per game. Huntley is very accurate, with his 65.4% completion rate ranking him 13th in the country (Huntley has completed over 70% of his passes in four games this season, including last week against Washington).

What is of major concern to Buff fans, though, is Huntley’s elusiveness. Huntley also has over 400 yards rushing this year, so if the CU defense can keep Huntley in the pocket … he could have a field day against the Buffs.

The running game shouldn’t be a major concern, with Zach Moss (No. 2) the leading rusher for the Utes. The sophomore leads the team in rushing, with 827 yards, but hasn’t had a 100-yard game in Utah’s last five contests.

The strength of the defense for Utah is the front seven. If the Colorado offense is to be successful, they will have to find a way to contain four-year starter Lowell Lotuleiei (No. 93). The senior defensive tackle and three-time All-Pac-12 selection has 41 starts in his career, and is a disruptive force in the middle of the line.

The leading tackler for the Utes is linebacker Kavika Luafatasaga (No. 5). The senior leads the team in tackles, with 72, and also has an interception and a forced fumble.

Where the Utes have a significant advantage against almost every team they play is on special teams:

— Mid-season All-American kicker Matt Gay leads the nation in field goals made (25) and in field goals made of 50+ yards (5). Gay made the cut as a finalist for the Lou Groza award (CU kicker James Stefanou was a semi-finalist); and

— Punter Mitch Wishnowsky is the defending Ray Guy award winner, and was a consensus All-American in 2016. This year, Wishnowsky is second in the nation in net punting (43.21 yards per kick), and ranks second in the nation in punts inside the ten yard line. Oh … and last weekend against Washington, Wishnowsky ran for 19 yards and a first down on a fourth-and-17 fake punt from Utah’s 29-yard line.

 

I – Intangibles

Colorado and Utah have identical records … 5-6, 2-6 in Pac-12 play.

The winner will be eligible for a bowl game and a winning record.

The loser will finish dead last in the Pac-12 (UCLA could also finish with a 5-7 record if the Jim Mora-less Bruins lose to Cal this weekend, but UCLA has three wins in Pac-12 play).

For 59 minutes last Saturday, it looked as if Utah would pick up win No. 6, out-playing Washington on the road. In the final minute, however, the Huskies scored a game-tying touchdown, and then a game-winning field goal as time expired.

In between the touchdown and field goal was an inexplicable time out called by Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.

After the Washington touchdown, the Utes quickly went three-and-out, punting the ball back to the Huskies with 29 seconds remaining. Washington was at its own 28-yard line, and seemed content to head into overtime, with Myles Gaskin posting a two-yard run on first down.

Instead of taking the offered overtime duel, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called time out.

Perhaps emboldened (or challenged?) by the time out, Washington head coach Chris Petersen took the gloves off. The result? Two quick completions, one for 18 yards, the next for 31. Then, as time expired, Washington kicker Tristan Vizcaino hit a game-winning 38-yarder.

Two days later, Kyle Whittingham was still explaining the time out.

“I would’ve bet my house that they would not have gone the distance on our defense in that amount of time and maneuver into field-goal range,” Whittingham said, “but they did, so credit to them. We weren’t able to make a play.”

… “I would do it again,” Whittingham continued, “but knowing how it played out I wouldn’t, but going into it without any knowledge of how it was going to play out, I would’ve chosen the aggressive path again and bet our defense. I have a lot of confidence in those guys … You can agree with it, disagree with it, that’s your choice”.

It must have been a long, silent flight home in the middle of the night for the Utes, getting back to Salt Lake City in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Will the hangover of what might have been hurt the Utes in their preparations for Colorado?

Buff fans can only hope …

 

P – Preparation / Schedule

A team coming off of a bye week vs. a team coming off of a late Saturday night road loss against a physical and talented opponent …

How could this not be an advantage for Colorado?

While Utah was facing No. 15 Washington on the road, turning a 30-23 lead with a minute to play into a 33-30 defeat, Colorado players and coaches were safe at home, watching the game, healing up.

If the Buffs were watching closely, though, they no doubt saw good reason to be concerned.

Utah played perhaps its best game of the season, having an excellent chance to be the heavily-favored Huskies. The Utes lost in the last minute, but were leading in the final minute thanks to successfully converting three fourth-down opportunities, including a fake punt on fourth-and-17 from its own 27-yard line.

Read that again … Utah successfully ran a fake punt on fourth-and-17 from its own 27-yard line … and did so in the first minute of the fourth quarter, with the game tied, 23-23.

Oh, and Utah also successfully converted an onside kick … after taking a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter.

And then there is this: On Saturday, Utah became the first team to score 30 points against Washington in Seattle since 2015 … when Utah defeated Washington 34-23.

With all that goes with a Thanksgiving weekend and Senior Day, Colorado should have a clear edge when it comes to preparing for the regular season finale.

“They have had a little extra time to prepare for us”, said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “So I know that there will be some things that we have not seen on film yet, so we have to identify that early in the game and make adjustments. We know that it is a big challenge”.

Let’s hope Buff coaches and players took full advantage of the extra time …

 

S – Statistics

— Phillip Lindsay is No. 10 in the nation in rushing, averaging 127.5 yards per game. Lindsay has 283 carries on the season, which leads the nation, but surprisingly enough, he has yet to set the school record for carries. The CU school record is 298 carries, set by Rashaan Salaam, in 1994;

— Another record which Phillip Lindsay deserves to set against Utah is the most receiving yards by a running back. With a paltry two catches for 11 yards against USC, Lindsay has 963 yards receiving in his career, six yards short of Eric Bieniemy’s record. For good measure, CU coaches should make sure Lindsay has the opportunity to get 37 yards receiving, making him the first Buff running back to post 1,000 career receiving yards;

— Steven Montez has been a disappointment to some Buff fans this fall. Remind them of this: Montez has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the past three games. Hard as that might be to believe, that is a school record. The CU record for 300 yard passing games in a season is five – Montez has four. With a 300-yard game against Utah, Montez will join Sefo Liufau (2014) and Koy Detmer (1996) as the only CU quarterbacks with five 300-yard games in a season;

— The CU wide receiver corps has also had a less than stellar season … or has it? Three different players have over 500 yards receiving (Byrce Bobo, Shay Fields, and Devin Ross) for only the second time in school history (last season being the other). Also, four different players have had 100-yard receiving games this season (Shay Fields, Devin Ross, Bryce Bobo, and Juwann Winfree). That represents only the third such season in school history (2016; 1984);

—  Utah has some strong defensive numbers. The Utes rank second in the Pac-12 and tied for 15th in the nation in fumbles recovered (10) … Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense (117.53) … Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 total defense (357.0) … Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 in fewest opponent first downs (204) … Utah is tied for second in the Pac-12 and tied for No. 15 in the nation in turnovers gained with 22 (12 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries).

 

Bottom Line … Colorado and Utah are both 5-6. The Utes have lost six of their last seven games after a 4-0 start. The Buffs and the Utes have played six times since joining the Pac-12, with every single one of those games being a one score game.

Yet the Buffs are 10.5-point underdogs.

The Buff Nation has waited three months for the Buffs to play a complete game. They came fairly close in the 44-28 win over California, but, other than that, it has been a frustrating journey.

Will this be the week that the 2017 Buffs finally … finally … put it all together?

“We’ve had good practices. They’ve been energetic,” said head coach Mike MacIntyre. “The guys have been excited about playing in this game, because there’s a lot on the line … We’ve got a lot of guys back and they’re healthy and excited about playing. This is always a big game, close game, exciting game. It’s always fun to play at Utah, because the crowd’s always into it. Our guys will be ready to go.”

Close games usually come down to special teams, and Utah has better special teams.

Close games also usually go to the home team …

Utah 28, Colorado 24

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14 Replies to “CU at Utah – A Preview”

  1. Game 12………..Judgement day……….Get that Bowl……..Get those 12 practices………….This has to be the game we see the Mighty Buffs be what we all thought they could, would, should be. You play to win the game.

    Buffs.

    Note: This is it. Reigning Coach of the Year comes through. Gets the team to 6 and 6 and gets a bowl game. 6 and 6 after losing most of his defensive starters and his all star DC and assistant and has another assistant arrested. What a coaching job 6 and 6. Even after dismissing several defensive key players and having some just leave, this head coach pulls if off. Even after the “greatest oline” in the last five years and the top rated receiver corps, and the experienced and dynamic QB all fail him, his strength of conviction gets the down-trodden team to 6 and 6 and a bowl game. Truly a job well done.

    This HC has got it all……………………………………Mississippi he will turn your program around…………..Get him while he is hot. Go Rebels.

    1. Welp, I am not happy about the loss. Not because of the loss, but that MickeyMac will be here 4 more years cause no one will want him. He ain’t Chip Kelley………More like Brett Bielema……….

      It’s a sad day in Mudville………..

      Buffs.

      Note: Now there is a rumor that there is a 10 am team meeting with MickeyMac and the team. He mentioned it several times in his post game babble……… It has been turned different ways…

      Is it Just a end of the year meeting.
      Is it just with the seniors to say good bye
      Is it a meeting to announce he is leaving.

      I choose door number 3.

      Also there are a couple of people that have been right before that it is door #3

      So There

  2. Stuart,

    Thank you for T.I.P.S each week. Let’s hope there is one more edition of T.I.P.S. – Bowl Game Version!

    It will be a tough game in Utah on Saturday, but coming off a bye week the Buffs will be fresh and rested. It’s time for the Buffs to win a game they’re not suppose to win – Buffs 31 Utah 24!

    GO BUFFS…and like cjbuffco said, “get that bowl eligible win!!!!”

  3. Happy Thanksgiving. And on to Christmas and New Years.

    Wow time be flying by when you be having fun. Well you could say, college football season flys by when you are having fun or not. Well wait college football is all about the student-athlete so it has to be a fun deal. Which means winning or losing is not the main focus. Oh well mute point like the Buffs offense.

    I just hope there are 12 practices in the in the next 35 days.

    How many teams do not get bowls? Like 40 or something. Wow.

    Damn Buffs dont’ mess this up. And I don’t mean just the players eh? Tired of the horse krappola coach speak whining teflon answers and daily babbles from MickeyMac.

    (Hail The Rebels………..Nice win…………Make his dream real……)

    Buffs.

    BEAT THEM UTES………..DON’T GET OUT PLAYED……..DON’T BE OUT COACHED

    YOU HAD AN EXTRA WEEK TO “GET READY”…….IF THE TEAM COMES OUT FLAT?…….FIRE THE STAFF AT HALF TIME…………

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to all you BUFF fans out there.

    I am thinking this one goes down to the wire. Last team to have possession has a chance to win.

    Here is hoping we will be celebrating a win after we have eaten the last remaining leftovers !!

    COLORADO 29 UTAH 27

    GO BUFFS !!!!!

  5. Can the Buffs finally put together a complete game? Nah. Complete games don’t just all the sudden happen. They’re the result of a consistent commitment to excellence on everyone’s part, something we’ve been content avoiding thus far…and you can’t just flip an “On Button” when you haven’t made the little disciplined choices along the way. Sorry Buff fans: Utah 31 Colorado 17. Montez and Big Play Shay are still trying to find their timing ?. I wish it wasn’t so.

  6. From Pete Thamel….Yahoo sports…Predicting coaching moves…….never heard of him. You?

    Mississippi
    Names: Mike Norvell, Mike MacIntyre, Chad Morris, Willie Taggart, Jeremy Pruitt, Matt Luke, Frank Wilson
    Prediction: Mike MacIntyre.

    Despite the insistence of Ole Miss officials otherwise, the NCAA ruling on the school’s massive recruiting infractions case did not come out before the end of the regular season. No one knows when it will. That hamstrings their search, as no one wants a job if they don’t know how significantly their hands will be tied around their back. This is a hard spot for a promising young coach, as they don’t want to risk rotting away their career for Hugh Freeze’s sins.

    Look for MacIntyre to slide over, as he’s worked there before and butted heads with administrators at Colorado.</i?

    Very interesting.

    Buffs

    Note: Buffs 38 Utes 24

  7. Well Stuart as always Thanks For the 2017 Season of T.I.P.S.;even painful accuracy is still painful my friend.

    So for “Some of the marbles” (GREAT HEADING by-the-way) I’m looking for just a little of the LINDSAY MOJO MOXIE to help us get to win number 6 and the SOMEWHERE BOWL!

    I think we will need at least 35 – 38 points to win this game. If it is in the low 20’s or teen’s Home Teams usually take those.

    CU 38 – Utah 31

  8. Hope everyone has a safe, enjoyable holiday weekend. I can see the Utah game going either way. I would give the “head” bet to Utah, 28-24 (Stuart, eerie but I had this score already in mind before I read your T.I.P.S), given their home field advantage. Whittingham will have the Utes prepared and focused. His teams are tough and play with an identity. He has been a consistent winner with an unusually poor record this year that could easily, like the Buffs, be much better with the exception of a handful of plays.

    My heart says the Buffs can win if they have the best coaching of the season, come out fast and focused, use Lindsay (similar to how the Huskies used Pettis last weekend) frequently, pressure Huntley (who is prone to bad throws under duress), and keep their mistakes down. Logically, I feel that is a lot to ask for. As EP said in a previous post, I agree that one of the keys for a Buffs win is if Mac2 and Lindgren don’t cramp up in critical situations. Players may make plays and win games but I feel that CU can win, 28-24, IF “Coaches Are Clutch”.

    Go CU and get that bowl eligible win!!!

      1. That’s what the odds favor. The question is how much heart and focus will the players have. Will they show up inspired? Will they have their collective heads in the game? My concern, which I have been repeating ad nauseum this season, is focus. Buffs are obviously 5-6. One less dropped TD pass against UCLA, this team is 6-5. One less gasher against Arizona, this team is 6-5. Combine both UCLA and Arizona issues with only two plays, and the team is 7-4. Then add ASU with two more dropped TD passes (and a host of other issues) and we could be looking at 8-3. IF the focus is there (and manifests itself in less mistakes, missed assignments, etc), then Buffs may not be the worst. The scary part is that they have only pulled it together once (homecoming versus Cal) IMO. Can they do it a second time?

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