“Friday” Fast Facts – Colorado vs. Arizona

 

Getting to Know … Arizona

— While Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez may be on the hot seat (#14 on Coaches Hot Seat Rankings this week), the Wildcats as a team are looking to the future. Arizona has already played 17 true freshmen this season, fourth-highest total in the nation;

— By contrast, Colorado has played seven true freshman to date: LB Jacob Callier; LB Nate Landman; WR K.D. Nixon; TE Jared Poplawski; WR Laviska Shenault; LB Dante Sparaco; and K James Stefanou;

— Arizona is averaging 296.0 yard rushing per game, 8th in the nation. The Wildcats have rushed for over 150 yards in ten consecutive games, and is 28-9 under Rich Rodriguez when rushing for over 200 yards. Heading into Saturday’s game, Colorado is surrendering 132.8 yards rushing per game (32nd in the nation);

— While Buff fans are waiting for CU’s experienced offensive line to gel (104 combined career starts), the Arizona offensive line – with 110 combined career starts – is getting the job done;

— Arizona is 2-2 on the season, with wins coming against lowly UTEP (0-5, coach already replaced) and Northern Arizona (from the Big Sky Conference). Four games does not a season make, but 1/3 of the way through their schedule, the Wildcats are giving up 22.3 points per game. The improvement over last year’s number – 38.3 ppg. – is the second-best improvement in the FBS;

— Buffs need to jump on top early … Colorado has out-scored its first five opponents, 76-41 in the first half (45-14 in the first quarter). Arizona, meanwhile, has out-scored opponents, 76-36, in the second half, and has allowed only three total points in the fourth quarter over the past three games.

 

Arizona players to watch:

— Brandon Dawkins/QB … Arizona may be as close to a one-man gang as Colorado will face all season. Dawkins has thrown for 670 yards and five touchdowns this season, but also leads the team in rushing, with 341 yards and six touchdowns. Dawkins is already UA’s all-time leading rusher at the quarterback position, with 1,464 yards (CU’s all-time leading rusher at quarterback is Darian Hagan, with 2,271 yards … in case you are wondering, Sefo Liufau finished his career sixth on the list, with 1,382);

J.J. Taylor/Nick Wilson/RB … Senior running back Nick Wilson ranks eighth in Arizona history with 2,595 rushing yards, but Wilson is a backup this year. Freshman J.J. Taylor is Arizona’s second-leading rusher so far this season, with 48 carries for 229 yards;

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles/S … The junior safety has three interceptions and a fumble recovery in four games. If the “Blackout Boyz” are going to have a breakout game, they will have to go through Flannigan-Fowles to do it.

 

Colorado and Arizona – head-to-head

— This will be the 20th all-time meeting between the two teams, in a series dating back to 1931. The Buffs lead the series by a 14-5 count, with an 5-3 record in games played in Boulder;

— Colorado has a 7-3 advantage in night games played between the two schools, but is 0-2 in night games played in Boulder (2013; 2015);

— After the initial contest in 1931 (a 27-7 Buff victory), the teams played ten times between 1950 and 1960, with Colorado winning every game;

— The two teams played a home-and-home in the mid-1980’s, with Colorado stretching its lead in the series to 12-0 with a 14-13 road victory in 1985. The following season, the Wildcats won their first game in the series, with No. 10 Arizona defeating Colorado, 24-21, in Boulder;

— The series lay dormant for the next 25 seasons, until the Buffs joined the Pac-12. Colorado won the first game with Arizona – the Buffs’ first win as a Pac-12 member – 48-29. After that, the Wildcats ran off a four-game winning streak, scoring at least 38 points in each game … and rushing for a total of 1,422 yards (an average of 355.5 rushing yards per game). The Buffs finally broke through again in 2016, when No. 16 Colorado defeated Arizona, 48-29, in Tucson.

 

Colorado and Arizona … historical

In historical terms, Colorado has it all over Arizona.

It’s not that Colorado had much of a head start (CU started playing football in 1890; Arizona 1899), but that the Buffs have had more consistent success.

In the 12 categories tracked by Winsipedia, Colorado leads Arizona in 11 … with the only category the Wildcats hold an edge over the Buffs is in bowl record percentage (Arizona: .475; 9-10-1; Colorado: .414, 12-17)

Otherwise …

— CU has a sizable lead in all-time wins, with 698 (25th all-time), while Arizona made it to 600 just last year (603; 50th all-time);

— CU has a similar lead in time spent in the Associated Press poll, with 302 weeks (26th), compared to Arizona’s 168 weeks (51st);

— When it comes to producing NFL talent, the Buffs are also comfortably ahead of the Wildcats. CU has had 270 NFL picks (22nd) and 24 first round picks (26th), compared to Arizona’s 180 (48th) and 10 (54th);

— Perhaps the widest gap is in conference championships. Colorado has 26th in its history (10th nationally), while Arizona has six titles in its 117-year history (91st nationally).

 

Colorado and Arizona … Notes and Numbers

— Bar-bet winner: Ask someone which Pac-12 game this weekend pits division winners from two of the past three seasons. Not that anyone in the college football world is paying much attention, but this weekend, the Pac-12 South winner from 2014 (Arizona) will be facing the Pac-12 South winner from 2016 (Colorado);

— The red zone will be of heightened importance this weekend. The Buff defense has faced 13 red zone trips in its first five games, with opponents scoring ten times. The 79.6% success rate is good enough to rank 40th in the nation, but, of those ten scores, only five were touchdowns. The five touchdowns in 13 attempts is a 38.5% touchdown rate, which is second-best in the nation;

— Arizona, meanwhile, has a red zone offense which has been successful 93.8% of the time, 22nd in the nation, and have scored touchdowns in 13 of 16 red zone incursions;

— A third down stop might not be enough for the CU defense … Arizona ranks 10th nationally by converting 81.8% of its fourth down attempts;

— Colorado has not allowed a kickoff return of over 22 yards all year. Only five schools in the country have had better success. Arizona, on the other hand, is averaging 25.9 yards per kickoff return, 17th-best average in the nation;

— In its four-game winning streak over Colorado (2012-15), Arizona rushed for a combined 1,422 yards, with each game generating at least 288 yards … and two games over 400 yards rushing. Last season, even though Colorado won the game, 49-24, the Wildcats rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns;

— In what was supposed to be a down year for the Colorado defense, the Buffs rank in the top half of the Pac-12 conference in rushing defense (6th), passing defense (5th), rushing defense (5th) and scoring defense (3rd);

 

Pac-12 Notes … 

— Washington and Washington State are both off to 5-0 starts. It’s happened only once before, in 1992, when Washington opened 8-0, with the Cougars starting the season 6-0;

— Pac-12 national leaders/Individuals … Bryce Love, Stanford, rushing (217.6 yards per game) … Josh Rosen, UCLA, passing yards per game (427.0 ypg.), total offense (431.6 ypg.), passing touchdowns (17) … Dante Pettis, Washington, punt returns (38.9 ypr., three touchdowns) … Matt Gay, Utah, field goals (14-14, 3.5 field goals per game);

— Pac-12 national leaders/Team … UCLA, passing offense (435.8 ypg.) … Oregon, scoring offense (49.6 ppg.) … Washington, punt returns (35.71 ypr.)

Colorado in the top 25 rankings nationally … Scoring defense, 22nd (18.2 ppg.) … fourth down conversion defense, 9th (16.7%) … punt returns, 15th (15.13 ypr.) … kickoff return yardage defense, 24th (17.14 ypr.) … Interceptions, 19th (6);

Arizona in the top 25 rankings nationally … Rushing offense, 8th (296.0 ypg.) … total offense, 25th (478.8 ypg.) … scoring offense, 19th, (41.3 ppg.) … fourth down conversion offense, 10th (81.8%) … fourth down conversion defense, 8th (14.3%) … punt returns, 2nd (23.33 ypr.) … kickoff returns, 17th (25.86 ypr.) … interceptions, 25th (5) … red zone scoring offense, 22nd (93.8%) … red zone scoring defense, 11th (64.7%);

Colorado ranked 100th or worse nationally … Quarterback sacks allowed, 104th (2.8 per game) (actually down from 121st last week, as the CU offensive line did not allow a sack against UCLA);

Arizona ranked 100th or worse nationally … Passing offense, 102nd (182.8 ypg.) … passing defense, 105th (258.0 ypg.) … net punting, 124th (32.62 ypp.) … punt return yardage defense, 109th (13.75 ypr.) … kickoff return yardage defense, 118th (27.22 ypr.).

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