Friday Fast Facts – Colorado v. California


Big Picture – Homecoming weekend in Boulder

— Colorado will officially retire Rashaan Salaam’s No. 19 at Saturday’s game.

Salaam, who passed away last December, is CU’s only Heisman Trophy winner, collecting the award in 1994 after a spectacular season that saw him rush for 2,055 yards and score 24 touchdowns.

His number will be just the fourth ever retired by Colorado, joining Byron “Whizzer” White’s No. 24, Joe Romig’s No. 67 and Bobby Anderson’s No. 11. Members of White’s family will be in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony, as will Anderson and Romig.

A number of Salaam’s former teammates will also be present.

— Also being honored Saturday will be the 1967 Bluebonnet Bowl champion team. That Eddie Crowder-coached team finished 9-2 (5-2 Big Eight) and climbed as high as the No. 3 ranking in the nation.

The Buffs finished ranked No. 14 after a convincing 31-21 win over Miami in the Bluebonnet Bowl. Safety Dick Anderson earned first-team All-American honors that year, leading a defense that allowed just 92 points in 10 regular season games.

— Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones have each signed proclamations that declare Saturday as “Ralphie’s 50th Anniversary Day” in honor of the famed University of Colorado Boulder mascot.

Since 1967, Ralphie has led the football team onto the field before games in one of the greatest traditions in all of college athletics. After well over 300 games and many more community appearances, CU Boulder will commemorate the mascot’s 50th anniversary at this Saturday’s home football game.

“Ralphie is iconic for so many Coloradans across the country,” Hickenlooper said. “Her strength and majestic nature matches that of our great state. Congratulations to the University of Colorado Boulder and everyone associated with the Ralphie program on this momentous occasion.”


California players to watch:

— Ross Bowers (No. 3) is the Cal quarterback, and has completed 174-of-309 passes for 1,997 yards, with 12 touchdowns and ten interceptions. Eight of the ten interceptions, though, came in the first four games, with only two coming in the last four games (both against Arizona last weekend).

Patrick Laird (No. 28) is the leading rusher, replacing star Tre Watson, who has been lost for the season. Laird has 530 yards and six rushing touchdowns this fall. In last weekend’s 45-44 double overtime loss to Arizona, Laird had a career-high 28 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

Ashtyn Davis (No. 27) is second in the nation and first in the Pac-12 in kick returns (629), and has two returns of over 40 yards this season … including a 44-yarder against Arizona last weekend.


Colorado and California – historical

The University of Colorado-Boulder Buffs and the University of California-Berkeley Bears have more in common other than a politically left leaning home town. The two schools have a fairly similar history on the gridiron.

Of the 12 categories tracked by Winsipedia, the Buffs lead the Bears in nine, though teams are close in most of them. Cal, though, has the edge in arguably the most important category: National championships.

While Colorado has one national title to brag about, Cal claims four, or perhaps five.

Five national titles? Cal?

Well, they are all before the NCAA national championships were centralized (at least in the eyes of most schools and their fans) in the Associated Press and UPI polls (which morphed into the USA Today coaches poll of today) in the late 1930’s.

From 1920-23, the Bears went 36-0-2, winning two Rose Bowls and claiming four national titles. The fifth claimed title came in 1937 when California went 10-0-1 and defeated Alabama, 13-0, in the Rose Bowl.

So, Cal either has five national titles … or none.

Some other categories:

— All-time wins … Colorado – 699, 25th all-time … California – 662, 35th

— Conference championships … Colorado – 26, 10th all-time … California – 14, 44th

— Consensus All-Americans … Colorado – 31, 20th all-time … California – 28, 24th all-time

— Weeks in the Associated Press poll … Colorado – 302, 26th all-time … California – 197, 42nd

but … First round NFL draft picks … Colorado – 24, 24th all-time … California – 27, 22nd


Colorado and California …  head-to-head

— California leads the all-time series with Colorado, 5-3, with the Buffs holding a 3-2 advantage in games played in Boulder.

— The series dates back to 1968, when Cal shutout the Buffs, 10-0, in a game played in Berkeley. The next three games were played in Boulder between 1972 and 1982. The Buffs won the first two, with the Bears taking the 1982 contest.

— The 1982 game was memorable in Buff lore as it was the first game coached by CU’s all-time wins leader, Bill McCartney. The Bears won, 31-17, in the first game coached at Cal by former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp.

— The Bears won again in Berkeley in 2010, 52-7, with Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott on hand saying that there was a “less than 50 percent chance” of Colorado joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

— Of course, the Buffs did join the Pac-12 in 2011, and did play the Bears again. The game, a 36-33 overtime win for California, though, was not an official Pac-12 game, as the Buffs and Bears finished off a home-and-home non-conference commitment before CU officially started Pac-12 play. In the loss, the Buffs squandered a record-setting 282 yard receiving effort by Paul Richardson.

— The Buffs broke a three-game losing streak in the series with a 41-24 win over Cal in Boulder in 2013. Sefo Liufau threw for 364 yards, with Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce collecting 140 yards receiving apiece.

— The last time the two teams played, in 2014, it was another record-setting game. Cal outlasted the Buffs, 59-56, in two overtimes. Sefo Liufau passed for 455 yards and seven touchdowns (hitting Nelson Spruce for a school-record 19 receptions), but the effort was wasted as Jared Goff threw for 458 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Bears to a win. In the game, 37 CU school records (29 individual; 8 team) were set. The 14 combined passing touchdowns also set an FBS record for the most touchdown passes in a single game.


Colorado and California … By the Numbers

Colorado’s statistics are consistent with a team with a 4-4 record. The Buffs are not ranked in the top 25 in the nation in many categories … but they are also not ranked lower than 100 in many categories, either.

The Buffs are ranked 7th in the nation in fourth down conversion defense (22.2%), and are 22nd in punt returns, averaging 12.6 yards a return … that’s about it.

Conversely, Colorado is ranked 100th or worse nationally in only two categories, quarterback sacks by (101st; 1.5 per game) and quarterback sacks allowed (110th; 2.88 per game). That being said, the Buffs are perilously close to falling into triple digits in two important categories, rushing defense (96th; 193.9 yards per game) and total defense (97th; 422.0 yards per game).

Meanwhile, California, which also sports a 4-4 record. The Bears, though, have statistics which are not as consistent with a .500 team. Cal is ranked in the top 25 in a number of categories … but below 100 in a number of others.

Most significant for CU’s homecoming game … California is 1st in the nation in turnovers gained, with 21. The Bear defense has collected 13 interceptions, which is 2nd in the nation in that category.

That being said, Cal is also 100th or worse in a number of categories: rushing offense (122nd; 107.4 yards per game); passing defense (100th; 258.0 yards per game); total defense (100th; 433.4 yards per game); quarterback sacks allowed (116th; 3.25 per game); punt return yardage defense (117th; 20.79 per return); and turnovers lost (111th, 16).

So, if you are keeping score at home, there is an opportunity for the Colorado offense to be successful, for the punt return unit to take advantage, and for the Buff defense to pick up some sacks.

Of course, if the Buffs lose the turnover battle … all bets are off.


Pac-12 Notes … 

— The Pac-12 and Mountain West are the only conferences with three running backs among the nation’s Top 10 in rushing yards per game.
– No. 1 – Bryce Love, Stanford …. FBS-best 198.1 yards per game (Love didn’t play against Oregon State Thursday night)
– No. 7 – Phillip Lindsay, Colorado (136.6 ypg) – CU’s career all-purpose yards leader (5,272 yards)
– No. 10 – Royce Freeman, Oregon (119.6 ypg) – Oregon’s career rushing leader (5,103 yards)
* With one more game under his belt and Arizona’s Khalil Tate will qualify for the national statistical
rankings. He is currently averaging 156.0 yards per game.

— The Pac-12 also has three players in the top 20 nationally in all-purpose yards: No. 2 – Bryce Love (200.86 ypg.); No. 9 Phillip Lindsay (155.38 ypg.); No. 19 Royce Freeman (137.63 ypg.);

— Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the AP and Coaches polls … Washington (12/11), Washington State (15/16), Stanford (20/20) and USC (21/21) … That’s 16 consecutive weeks with four or more Pac-12 teams in the AP Top 25;

— In addition to Bryce Love, the Pac-12 has three other players leading in individual categories … Justin Reid, Stanford, interceptions (5) … Dante Pettis, Washington, punt returns (24.4 per return) … Matt Guy, Utah, field goals per game (2.43).


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