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This Week’s “T.I.P.S.” for the 500th game in Folsom Field history

If you look at CU’s record against ranked teams under Mike MacIntyre, 2-19 … you figure that No. 21 Utah, a seven-point favorite over Colorado, should be an easy pick this weekend.

If you look at CU’s record over the past five games (0-5), and compare that to what Utah has done the past month or so (5-1, including wins over Stanford, USC, and Oregon) … you figure the Utes are the obvious choice to knock off the Buffs this Saturday.

If you judge teams by momentum, you have a team which has hit a glass ceiling (or a brick wall) when it comes to picking up win No. 6 and bowl eligibility, taking on a team which is so close to their first Pac-12 South title they can taste it … you figure a rout is in the offing.

Then Tuesday morning happened … and through a monkey wrench into the works.

How will the Buffs react to the “He’s fired. No, he’s not” flurry of internet posts?

Your guess is as good as mine …

Colorado v. No. 21 Utah … Saturday, 11:30 a.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks

T – Talent 

Excuses. Excuses.

While the meltdown against Oregon State will be the game cited as the final straw for many Buff fans in the Mike MacIntyre era (if, in fact, 2018 turns out to be his final season in Boulder), the moment when he lost me was at the press conference after the Washington State game. (Brian Howell from the Daily Camera posted an article on the press conference, which can be found here).

At the same moment when MacIntyre was explaining away CU’s 31-7 loss to Washington State as a function of the Buffs’ injury list, Utah was taking down Oregon. The Utes were not only without their star quarterback, Tyler Huntley (injured the week before against Arizona State), but were without their 1,000-yard running back, Zack Moss (lost for the season during the week leading up to the Oregon game).

With their Pac-12 division hopes on the line, the Utes regrouped behind a backup at quarterback, Jason Shelley, and a backup running back, Armand Shyne, to take down the Ducks, 32-25.

Shelley had thrown three passes in three games in his career at Utah before being forced into action against the Sun Devils. In his first start last weekend, Shelley went 18-for-31 for 262 yards with no turnovers, scoring two touchdowns on the ground. Shyne, who had a grand total of 37 carries in the first nine games this season, had 26 carries for 174 yards against the Ducks.

Next man up at Utah.

At Colorado … sorry, but we can’t win without our starters.

That being said, the player to keep an eye out for when Utah has the ball is wide receiver Britain Covey. A possession receiver in the Nelson Spruce mold, Covey has a way of converting third downs and making key plays. Covey has also been utilized on kickoffs and punt returns, and has thrown two touchdown passes this year.

And, this just in … Utah’s defense is good. As in better than the Washington State defense which held Colorado to seven points last weekend (and, if you think about it, just one play. Other than Travon McMillian’s 64-yard run, which set up the Buffs’ lone touchdown on the next play, the Buff offense went nowhere against the Cougars).

Utah is No. 1 in the Pac-12 (and 10th in the nation) in rushing defense, giving up only 101.7 yards per game. The Utes are also in the top 20 nationally in total defense (19th) and scoring defense (17th).

If the weather keeps CU from throwing the ball … well, best not to think about that …

I – Intangibles

In case you were in an isolation chamber on Tuesday, here’s how the morning unfolded.

On Monday night, Denver’s Channel 7 reported, citing anonymous sources, that Mike MacIntyre and the University of Colorado were to part ways.

Buff fans awoke Tuesday morning awaiting confirmation. Instead, CU athletic director Rick George released a statement on Tuesday morning regarding the rumor:

“We do not comment on speculation or unsubstantiated rumors with anonymous sources. Let me just say I have made no decisions regarding the future of the football program.

“As I’ve stated in the past, we continually evaluate all aspects of all of our 17 intercollegiate sport programs.”

Then, there was the awkward Tuesday press conference. MacIntyre told the assembled reporters that he had addressed the reports to the team Tuesday morning.

“We talk all the time about what we can control, our guys, our people, your situation,” MacIntyre said. ” … The buffalo is the only animal that walks into the storm. All the rest of them run away from the storm. If you walk into the storm, you’re going to get through it faster. They walk in it together. We talked about that this morning. We’ve had a storm here the last few weeks and lost some close games. I talked to them about life and what that means, and that we’re walking into it together. Then we went outside and practiced. I thought they were really enthusiastic.”

How will the news affect the Buffs?

“The energy at today’s practice was the best energy we’ve had all season,” quarterback Steven Montez said. “Guys went out there, had a chip on their shoulder and were hungry. We practiced really hard and really well today. We were outside even though there was a bunch of snow on the field. We have to be prepared for Saturday’s game because it is going to snow. We are locked in and are ready to go for Saturday and for Utah to come down here to Folsom.”

We’ll see …

P – Preparation/Schedule 

This weekend’s game was supposed to be a high for the CU football program.

A final farewell to CU’s 19 seniors … the 500th game in the long and storied history of Folsom Field … a celebration of a resurrected CU football program, well on its way to its second bowl game in three seasons.

Instead, it’s an early kickoff (11:30 a.m.), which will all but guarantee that the CU seniors will run out on to Folsom Field with a student section less than half full.

The celebration of Folsom Field will be tempered by a reduced crowd, kept away by not only CU’s five-game losing streak, but a less than stellar weather forecast (35-degrees; rain and snow showers).

And then there is the bowl game invitation … or lack thereof.

If Colorado can’t win one of its last two games, the 2019 preseason magazine writeups can be composed now. “Colorado finished 5-7 for the second consecutive season, failing in ten consecutive attempts to secure a sixth win and bowl eligibility”.

While the Buffs are stuck in neutral, the Utes are peaking at just the right time.

Left for dead after an 0-2 Pac-12 start, the Utes went on the road and defeated Stanford. Since then, Utah has gone 4-1, and is on the verge of claiming its first Pac-12 South title.

In a quirk in the schedule, Utah is playing its final Pac-12 game this weekend, finishing its regular season against BYU next Saturday.

For the Utes, the math is simple, defeat the Buffs, and all Utah needs for a Pac-12 South title is for Arizona State to lose to Oregon or Arizona. Both games for the Sun Devils are on the road, so the Utes have to like their chances of a Pac-12 title game berth if they can take out Colorado this Saturday.

The Buffs, meanwhile, have the incentive of obtaining bowl eligibility with a win … the same incentive they have had heading into eight other games over the past 12 months.

Advantage … Utah.

S – Statistics

— CU sophomore wide receiver Laviska Shenault would be leading in both receptions per game (70, or 10.0/game) and would be second in the nation in receiving yards per game (882, or 126.0/game), but he no longer qualifies for the NCAA rankings. If Shenault plays in the last two games, he will have played in nine of CU’s 12 games, and would be again qualified for national rankings. Unfortunately, due to his injuries, Shenault did not make the list of semi-finalists for the Biletnikoff Award;

— Running back Travon McMillian is 33rd in the nation (7th in the Pac-12) in rushing (91.0 yds/game);

— Ronnie Blackmon is 20th in the nation (2nd in the Pac-12) in punt returns (10.6 yards/return);

— Colorado leads the all-time series against Utah, 32-29-2, including a 17-12-1 record in games played in Boulder;

— Saturday’s game marks the first time since the two teams joined the Pac-12 that they will not play each other in the regular season finale. Colorado will take to the road next weekend to take on Cal, while Utah returns home to face in-state rival BYU;

— Utah’s quarterback Jason Shelley, Jr., who will be making his second start against the Buffs, is a second cousin of Rashaan Salaam;

Prediction …

It’s been a season of mixed emotions. A euphoric high after the win over Nebraska. One of the all-time lows after the loss Oregon State.

And everything in between.

Which, I guess, is to be expected for a team which is 5-5.

The problem, as we well know, is not CU’s overall record (after all, Las Vegas had the Buffs pegged at 4.5 wins for the season), but how we got here.

Before Tuesday, all the stars were aligned against the Buffs. Utah coming into Boulder on a high, playing with the same enthusiasm which carried Colorado to a Pac-12 South title in the 2016 season. Colorado, meanwhile, would be coming into the game on a low. Five straight losses, bad weather, an early start, a quiet Folsom Field, and playing against a team which is strong in the trenches … which has long been CU’s kryptonite.

Then Tuesday happened.

We’ll see how the MacIntyre saga plays out, but keep this in mind.

In November, 2010, Dan Hawkins was (finally) fired after CU melted down against Kansas. The Buffs – on a five-game losing streak – then bounced back to defeat Iowa State and Kansas State.

Could the 2018 Buffs find similar inspiration, circling the wagons just long enough – and just well enough – to upset Utah?

I’d love to see it. I’ll be there, freezing my ass off, hoping for a win.

But Utah can run the ball, and can stop the Buffs from doing the same. In a potential snowstorm, that may be all that it takes.

… No. 21 Utah 24, Colorado 14 … 

Previous predictions … 

Prediction: Washington State 42, Colorado 28 … Actual: Washington State 31, Colorado 7

Prediction: Arizona 38, Colorado 24 … Actual: Arizona 42, Colorado 34

Prediction: Colorado 42, Oregon State 17 … Actual: Oregon State 41, Colorado 34 OT

Prediction: Washington 31, Colorado 14 … Actual: Washington 27, Colorado 13

Prediction: USC 24, Colorado 20 … Actual: USC 31, Colorado 20

Prediction: Colorado 34, Arizona State 27 … Actual: Colorado 28, Arizona State 21

Prediction: Colorado 30, UCLA 21 … Actual: Colorado 38, UCLA 16

Prediction: Colorado 48, New Hampshire 10 … Actual: Colorado 45, New Hampshire 14

Prediction: Colorado 31, Nebraska 24 … Actual: Colorado 33, Nebraska 28

Prediction: Colorado 41, Colorado State 24 … Actual: Colorado 45, Colorado State 13

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9 Replies to “Colorado v. No. 21 Utah – A Preview”

  1. Utah has better and tougher coach, offense, defense, more confidence and resiliency, the forecasted weather suits Utah better, etc. I can’t come up with anything positive for the Buffs. I don’t see anything changing from the coaching staff. The only possibility IMO is if the players feel this is important enough to win for the sake of the 18 graduating seniors and for their pride as CU football players. I will be there.

    Utah 31 CU 17

  2. Vegas had CU at 4.5 wins??? NH must have been the 1/2 win. Still Vegas kicks but on just about everyone else out there. I will take UT and the points. If MM feels he has no pressure on his job I dont see anything different happening with the O. It just isnt highly educated politicians and their minions consistently denying reality anymore.

  3. I think this team has already folded up the tent. Since we probably wont be able to run the ball we should see about three dozen bubble screens to Viska. This should be a game where the coach says f&%# it open up the offense and let ‘er fly. He has nothing to lose at this point. If Montez cant
    get it going in the first quarter let the beast Noyer come in and have a crack at. I would rather lose this game 49 to 0 with an all out offensive effort than to lose 21-7 with the same dumb a$$ game plans we have used here recently.

    1. Amen to that brother.

      What’s so weird about this offense is that it seems to only have about 30% of the plays at its disposal each week. First few games of the season? Tons of jet sweeps. Next few games? No jet sweeps. One week you’ll see some bubble screens. The next week none, but there will be a halfback screen. Seen twice, then forever forgotten.

      It’s like they’re randomly copying just a few pages out of a book, rather than using the whole book. Do they think the players are incapable of running the entire playbook each week? That they have a cap of like 30 plays a week and that’s all that they can install, and stuff worked on in previous weeks can’t be run?

      Very confusing.

      1. You know Chirality as I have watched this season unfold or fold maybe is more apropos, I kept thinking to myself, there is something missing here week to week.

        You nailed it with your post, it really does seem as if they only run about 3 or 4 stupid plays every week and there never seems to be any adjustment to something that worked back when they were at least winning, even though it now seems that the competition wasn’t very strong during that streak.

  4. Stuart, your predictions have been spot on this year. Aside from the Oregon State game, which I don’t think should count against your predicting skills.

    Here’s the big question: when MacIntyre said that “we’ve got to figure out a way to run the ball against them” was that CoachSpeak[tm], or is he actually serious about making the Buffs run into a snow-covered red brick wall?

    Just f*&^#ing throw the ball. Go full Texas Tech. No runs. Runs are silly. Short throws are like a run. I want to see Montez pass fifty times. Pass to running backs (you can do that?!) and tight ends (what’s a tight end?!). Pass horizontally (we do that all the time!) and vertically (we only do that every other game?). Now is the time for Chev to assert dominance and prove that he should be kept around when (if?) MacIntyre is kicked out!

    But that’s not really my prediction. MacIntyre’s love of being conservative on offense is a blight upon this team. He belongs in the Big 10, circa 2005 or so. Woo! 10-7 Games! Hence, my prediction: 20 carries for 70 yards (with a long of 50) by the running backs. 30 throws for 200 yards by Montez, of which 20 of them come on second-and-long or third-and-long. CU manages to score 14 points. Utah scores 40. MacIntyre fired on Monday, Roper named temporary head coach….and we’re all staring into the abyss once more.

    As an aside: what’s the best type of food to make at a tailgate at 8am on a snowy day?

    1. That’s a great post right there. Seriously. Best tailgate food at 8am with a sweet Colorado snow storm rolling in? Popsicles, of course! Loaded with just enough booze to keep things interesting.

      Go Buffs

  5. Oh man, CU 99-UU 0? Probably not. But, I’ll elaborate. I do think CU can win this game. I think they can win every game. They just gotta do it.

    I thought this year we’d actually still see plenty of designed QB runs. I know people hated them w/ Sefo, but they were effective more often than not, in key situations. Steven’s bigger, faster, quicker, so why not run him a bit more? Maybe they are less confident in his backup/s? Clearly, he’s got a better arm than Sefo, so keeping him in the pocket makes some sense, but… mix it up a bit? Maybe he’s reading the RPO incorrectly sometimes? Seems to me like if he keeps the ball on some of those exchanges, he can get outside the crashing DE. And, w/ Montez running the ball a bit more, doesn’t that also help keep the defense honest in having to account for him? But? I’m no football coach, for sure. So, I’m sure Chev/Adams and Co have their reasons for doing what they’re doing. Here’s to hoping they work better this Saturday than for the last five.

    As to UU’s backups coming in and doing well last week as starters? I remember a guy doing that to Oregon a couple years ago. Looked like a super star that day. And, wasn’t Shelley a pretty highly recruited guy? His Dad – according to the Pac 12 football weekly show’s Nigel Burton – played at UW, so… there’s that. And, as others have pointed out, with a stout defense and strong offensive line, it’s a lot easier for a back up QB to come in and play well.

    Nevertheless, we all know injuries happen. Players, and coaches have to step up and compensate for that loss. Clearly, CU hasn’t. On the bright side though, they’ve been in every game, even without their starters. That was not always the case, just a couple years ago – and for most of the lost decade.

    So? Here’s my prediction: It’s going to be cold and snowing. Not the best day to chuck the ball around the yard. UU’s got a better dual threat QB, and offensive line. But? I think CU will find a way to get the rushing attack going, even if they have to run Montez more than they’d like. And, bad weather does play better w/ the dink and dunk offense CU’s using now in the passing game, so? CU wins in a tight, low-scoring game. 10-9 (although I almost went 3-2, just for fun).

    Go Buffs

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