Friday Fast Facts – Colorado v. UCLA Edition

Trivia question of the week: Where does the term “bye week” come from? (Answer below)

 Pac-12 Weekend television schedule and betting odds

(Betting lines from 5Dimes):

  • Colorado – Opened a 10.0-point favorite (since lowered to 9.0) at home over UCLA … Friday, 7:00 p.m., MT, FS1
  • Washington State – Opened a pick ’em game (since changed to Utah listed as a 2.5-point favorite) at home against Utah … Sat., 4:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks
  • Arizona State – Opened a 21.5-point favorite (since raised to 22.0) at home over Oregon State … Saturday, 8:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
  • No. 11 Washington – Opened a 17.5-point favorite (which has remained the same) at home over No. 20 BYU … Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Fox
  • Arizona – Opened a 3.0-point underdog (since raised to 3.5) at home against USC … Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN2
  • No. 7 Stanford – Opened a 4.5-point underdog (since raised to 5.5) on the road against No. 8 Notre Dame … Saturday, 5:30 p.m., NBC
  • No. 24 California – Opened a 3.0-point underdog (since lowered to 2.5) at home against No. 19 Oregon … Saturday, 8:30 p.m., FS1

Big Picture

— Colorado is 3-0 to start the 2018 season, opening 3-0 for the 42nd time in its history (129 seasons), and is 3-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1994-95. The Buffs haven’t started 4-0, though, since 1998;

— Colorado is 703-501-36 all-time (.581). The Buffs are 25th in all-time victories;

— Colorado is 80-42-2 (.653) all-time in conference openers. The Buffs are just 2-5, however, in Pac-12 conference openers (0-4 at home);

— Under Mike MacIntyre, Colorado is 1-4 when coming off of a bye week. In the four losses, the Buffs haven’t looked particularly sharp: 2013 – Oregon State (44-17); 2014 – USC (56-28) and Oregon (44-10); 2015 – none; and 2017 – Utah (31-13). On the glass half-full side, the lone victory by CU under Mike MacIntyre coming off of a bye week came against next weekend’s opponent, UCLA. The Buffs hosted the Bruins on a Thursday night game after a bye week in 2016, coming away with a 20-10 victory aided by an Isaiah Oliver punt return for a touchdown to seal the win;

— Running backs coach Darian Hagan will celebrate his 250th game as a Buff against UCLA (103 games as an assistant coach; 62 as a football staff member; 35 as Alumni C-Club director; and 49 as a player);

— UCLA has lost ten straight Pac-12 conference road games, dating back to the 2015 season. Only 14 players on the current roster have experienced a road win in conference play.

Statistically speaking

— The Buffs are 3-for-3 on opening drives thus far this season, scoring touchdowns against CSU, Nebraska and New Hampshire. The Buffs have also scored on their first drives of the second half in each game (TD/FG/TD). The last time this happened? Try never. Going back to the 1930’s, Dave Plati and crew couldn’t find a single season in which Colorado had scored on the first possession of each half in its first three games of the year;

–This is just the fifth season in CU history the Buffs have scored 30 or more points in each of the first three games of the season (joining 1896, 1923, 1993 and 1995);

— Colorado is ranked in the top 25 nationally in several categories: red zone defense (5th – 60%); sacks (10th – 3.33/game); kickoff returns (15th – 27.33 yard average);  and team passing efficiency (17th – 167.07);

— In addition to the above categories, Colorado is ranked in the top three in the Pac-12 conference in several other categories, including scoring offense (41.0/game); rushing offense (204.3 yards/game); total offense (494.0 yards/game); passing offense (289.7 yards/game); opponent first downs (20.0/game); and turnover margin (+1.00/game);

— The Buffs are 22-8 under Mike MacIntyre in games in which they score at least 30 points.

Colorado and UCLA … historical

In historical terms, Colorado wins out over UCLA, with the CU football legacy dating back to 1890, while the Bruins didn’t field their first team until 1919. As a result, Colorado has a significant lead in all-time wins, with 703 (25th all-time) compared to UCLA’s 595 (59th).

That being said, when we compare apples to apples – all-time winning percentage – CU and UCLA are very close. The Bruins are 39th on the all-time list (.582 – 595-422-37), while the Buffs are 40th (.581 – 703-501-36).

Both teams have one national championship, one Heisman trophy winner, and, ironically enough, have both spent seven weeks as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll (tied for 25th on that list).

UCLA leads Colorado in most other categories tracked by Winsipedia, including NFL draft picks (321 to 271), consensus All-Americans (40 to 31) and bowl appearances (36 to 29). The Buffs do, however, hold a lead in one category which will last for some time to come … conference championships. Colorado is 10th on the all-time list, with 26, while UCLA is 25th on the list, with 18.

Colorado and UCLA – head-to-head

This will be the 14th all-time meeting between the two teams, in a series dating back to 1980. UCLA holds a 10-3 advantage in the rivalry, including a 4-2 advantage over the Buffs in games played in Boulder.

The first game ever played between the two teams is also the first game in the CU at the Game Archives, as it was my first game as a Buff. The game was a blowout, with the Bruins racing out to a 56-0 lead at halftime, coasting to a 56-14 win.

The Bruins then ran off three more wins in the series during the early ’80’s. The Buffs, wearing their own version of blue-and-goal uniforms, looked like UCLA, but didn’t play like UCLA. The 1982 game is perhaps the most noteworthy of the three UCLA victories, as future Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel got into the game in garbage time in a 34-6 UCLA victory.

The Buffs’ first two victories in the series came in a home-and-home in 2002 and 2003. The 2002 game, a 31-17 win over the No. 20 Bruins, still represents CU’s most recent road victory over a ranked team (and, until last year’s win against Stanford, the most recent CU victory in the state of California). The 2003 win, a 16-14 decision in Boulder, is also noteworthy as it represented a homecoming for head coach Karl Dorrell and assistants Jon Embree and Eric Bieniemy, all former Buffs.

Since Colorado has joined the Pac-12, it has been almost all UCLA. After absorbing 45-6, 42-14, and 45-23 maulings from 2011-13, the Buffs played on par with the Bruins. In 2014, the game went into double overtime, with UCLA prevailing, 40-37. Then, in 2015, the Buffs had a lead late, but ultimately fell, 35-31.

In 2016, the Buffs broke through in Boulder. In a defensive battle, the Buffs prevailed, 20-10, in “Even ugly wins count“. Two punt returns by Isaiah Oliver, including a 68-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter to seal the deal, gave the Buffs a hard-fought victory.

Last season, it was another tough-to-take loss. The final was 27-23, UCLA, with the comment from quarterback Steven Montez, “It’s Real Frustrating“, summing up the sentiments of the Buff Nation.

Player Notes

— Quarterback Steven Montez remains highly ranked in a number of categories: completion percentage (5th – .734); passing yards/game (18th – 285.0 yards/game); passing efficiency (16th – 173.6); and completions per game (19th – 23.0);

— Wide receiver Laviska Shenault is first in the nation in receiving yards per game (151.7) and receptions per game (8.7); and tenth in the nation in all-purpose yards (155.0 yards/game);

— Linebacker Nate Landman is third in the nation in tackles for loss per game (2.3), and tied for tenth nationally in total interceptions (2);

— Defensive end Mustafa Johnson is seventh in the nation in sacks per game (1.17), and tied for ninth nationally in tackles for loss per game (2.0);

— Running back Travon McMillian is third in the Pac-12 (29th in the nation) in rushing yards per game (96.7 yards/game);

— Defensive back Ronnie Blackmon is third in the Pac-12 (25th in the nation) in punt return average (10.9 yards/return);

Pac-12 Notes

— There are 21 FBS teams which remain undefeated, with three (Cal; Colorado; and Stanford) from the Pac-12. Only the 14-team SEC and ACC, with four each, have more;

— Four teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the latest Associated Press poll – all from the North Division … No. 7 Stanford … No. 11 Washington … No. 19 Oregon … and No. 24 California. Three Pac-12 teams were on the list of teams receiving votes: No. 26 Colorado; No. 40 Utah and No. 46 Arizona State;

Hard to believe stat of the week … the last time Stanford and Notre Dame played one another when both teams were undefeated … the 1925 Rose Bowl;

— In addition to Laviska Shenault leading the nation in receiving yards and receptions per game, the Pac-12 has one other national leader. Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshaw II currently leads the nation in completions per game (38.5) and total offense (396.3 yards/game);

— There have been seven 200-yard receiving games posted by FBS players so far this fall, with four of the seven coming out of the Pac-12 (including Laviska Shenault’s 211-yard game against Colorado State);

— In team statistics, Utah leads the nation in passing yards allowed (93.0 yards/game); total defense (204.7 yards/game); and scoring defense (12.3 points/game), while Washington State leads in net punting (45.58 yards/punt).

Trivia question answer: Best guess – A “bye” in cricket is when there a wild pitch (to use a baseball term) and the runner comes in for a score. So a “bye” in cricket occurs when you get to advance without having to do anything. The term then evolved over the years to mean any time you don’t play a week –  as your team “advances” without having to do anything.


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