Friday Fast Facts – Colorado at No. 6 Utah

Trivia Question of the Week … Colorado is one of only five schools which has at least two alumni serving as captains for their respective NFL teams. Care to hazard a guess as to which two former Buffs are currently NFL captains? (Hint: one Buff was a sixth round pick in 2007; the other a first round pick in 2011).

Neill Woelk’s Fast Five Keys for Colorado at No. 6 Utah

From … Finding a weakness in the sixth-ranked Utah Utes isn’t an easy task. Just ask Colorado coach Mel Tucker.

“Big, strong, physical football team, very well coached,” was Tucker’s assessment earlier this week. “They play with a lot of confidence. They have a lot of good players on both sides of the ball. Special teams are solid. They really don’t have weaknesses overall as a team.”

Indeed, the 10-1 Utes (7-1 Pac-12) are likely the best overall team the Buffs (5-6, 3-5) have seen this year. Utah has the league’s leading scoring defense (10.9 points per game), the third-leading offense (34.7) points per game and, as always, very good special teams.

Both teams have plenty at stake. The Buffs have a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016 (and only the second time since 2007), but the stakes for the Utes are much bigger. A win would give them the Pac-12 South title and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

Saturday’s game is very much a back-to-the-basics affair. As Tucker said, the Utes are big and physical. They love to run the ball and they play excellent run defense. That is also the style of ball Tucker envisions implementing in Boulder.

So what do the Buffs need to do to ruin the Utes’ day and come back to Boulder with bowl eligibility in their pockets?

1.  Stop the Utah run game.

2. Find the holes in Utah’s secondary.

3. Run the ball with authority. 

4. Limit explosive plays.

5. Produce a couple momentum-changing moments.

Read full story here

Big Picture

— Colorado and Utah have played 65 times overall (the most by far for CU with any Pac-12 opponent; second-most is Oregon, at 25 games). The Buffs hold a 32-30-3 overall advantage in the series;

— Colorado was a 14.5-point underdog for last weekend’s game against Washington. According to a tweet by Brian Howell at the Boulder Daily Camera, the Buffs’ 20-14 win represented the 5th-largest upset (judged by point-spread) for the Buffs since 1976. Also on that list? CU’s 17-14 win over Utah in Salt Lake City, when the Buffs were 22-point underdogs (the Buffs are 28.5-point underdogs this weekend);

— The uniforms for the Buff players for the Utah game: Black helmets; white uniforms; and black pants (Utah will be wearing 1966 “throwback” uniforms, with silver helmet and pants to go with their red uniforms). The Buffs, sad to say, are 0-6 when wearing this combination, including the loss in the 2018 finale at Cal;

— Colorado is 5-3 all-time in games played on November 30th. All but one of those games, though, were played before World War II. I would like to say that I have a write-up for the 18-0 win over Colorado Mines in 1894, or the 14-7 win over Denver University in 1933, played before the largest crowd to attend a sporting event in the state of Colorado to that date – approximately 25,000 … but your CU at the Game Archives only date back to 1980.

  • The one November 30th game played by the Buffs since World War II was in 2013, and it was against Utah. The Buffs spotted the Utes a 21-0 halftime lead, but fought back behind Sefo Liufau and Nelson Spruce to make it a game before falling, 24-17. The game write-up, including my essay for the game, “Heart of a Buffalo“, can be found here.

— The CU/Utah game will be telecast nationally by ABC (The first Saturday prime-time game for the Buffs since 2008). Steve Levy will handle the play-by-play; with Brian Griese on color (Brian’s father, Bob, did 16 CU games, making the Bob and Brian the first father/son combo to broadcast a CU game); and Molly McGrath and Todd McShay on the sidelines. KOA radio will also carry the game. Mark Johnson will handle the play-by-play, with former CU head coach Gary Barnett handling the commentary.

Mel Tucker’s Podcast

Coach Mel Tucker has a weekly podcast, hosted by KOA’s Mark Johnson. So far, Coach Tucker has interviewed Rick George, Kordell Stewart, Matt Russell, Alfred Williams, Jeremy Bloom, Marwan Hage, Jim Hansen, Bobby Anderson, Daniel Graham, Phillip Lindsay and Nelson Spruce.

The most recent interview is with CU men’s head basketball coach, Tad Boyle, and can be found here

Buffs v. Utes

— Mel Tucker has never coached against the Utes, either as a head coach or as an assistant. Utah’s coach Kyle Whittingham is 6-2 against Colorado;

— Impress your friends stat … Prior to 1972, the University of Utah teams were nicknamed the “Indians”;

— The two teams have played 65 times (CU leading the series, 32-30-3), but the teams have only met once when both teams were ranked. That was during the 2016 season, when No. 9 Colorado defeated No. 21 Utah, 27-22. The write-up for that game, including my essay for the game, “No Conflict, No Story“, can be found here;

— Utah is 41-39 against the Pac-12 as a conference member, pushing over the .500 mark for the first time this season. Overall, Utah is 117-160-6 all-time in games against Pac-12 member teams;

— Utah, ranked 6th in the most recent polls, has now been ranked for 27 consecutive weeks. It’s the longest current streak in the Pac-12, and the sixth-longest current streak nationally;

— The Utes leads the nation in rushing defense (55.9 yards per game), rank third in total defense, fourth in scoring defense, and seventh in red zone defense … Utah leads the Pac-12 in each of these categories;

Bar bet winner … In what quarter have the Buffs out-scored their opponents? It’s the third quarter. In the first quarter this season, the Buffs have been out-scored 82-53, in the second, 96-78; in the fourth, 90-70 (and in overtime, 7-3). In the third quarter, however, CU has out-scored its opponents, 63-62;

Something has to give Department … Both teams are successful in turnover margin. Colorado is a plus-4 for the season (17 turnovers gained; 13 lost), while Utah is plus-9 (20 turnovers gained; 11 lost);

Bar bet winner II … Which team has more wins this season against ranked teams? Colorado is 2-1 against ranked opponents this fall, while Utah, the No. 6 team in the nation, has played only one ranked opponent all season, defeating No. 17 Arizona State at home, 21-3.

Injury Report

— The CU injury report …

  • Out for the season … running back Jarek Brousard – knee surgery September 6th; cornerback Chris Miller – torn ACL, season-ending surgery on October 4th; cornerback Mehki Blackmon – shoulder surgery October 8th;
  • Day-to-Day … kicker James Stefanou – hip (will undergo postseason surgery; could kick in an emergency situation);
  • “Full go” … (Listed on previous injury report, but not the current one) … quarterback Tyler Lytle – shoulder; offensive lineman Colby Pursell – gall bladder surgery; running back Alex Fontenot – concussion

Player Notes … 

— Last weekend, with 42 receiving yards, senior wide receiver Tony Brown became the 32nd player in CU history to post over 1,000 career receiving yards (1,032);

— Junior wide receiver Laviska Shenault is eighth in receptions (145), 11th in receiving yards (1,900), and 28th in yards from scrimmage (2,155);

— Senior quarterback Steven Montez r, with one game remaining in his CU career (Colorado does not count bowl statistics in all-time records) has his name attached to 46 school records (30 outright; tied for 16 more). He remains second on the all-time passing charts in yards (9,492). Montez needs 77 passing yards to pass the current No. 1, Sefo Liufau (9,568). Montez will also pass Liufau on the all-time total offense list (has 10,473, needs 37 yards to pass Liufau’s 10,509);

— Junior linebacker Nate Landman leads the Buffs with 127 tackles, almost twice as many as No. 2 on the list (Mikial Onu, with 67);

— Senior offensive lineman Tim Lynott, Jr., with a start against Utah, will tie Joe Garten (1987-90); Bryan Stoltenberg (1992-95); and Stephone Nembot (2012-15) with the most career starts by an offensive lineman (44);

— CU tight ends have 28 catches so far this season. Buff tight ends had 17 catches in the last three seasons combined.

Colorado and Utah … historical

In the 12 statistical categories tracked by Winsipedia, Utah leads Colorado in only two of 12 categories … though they are significant.

In all-time winning percentage, the Utes inched past the Buffs in the past few years. Utah has a .594 winning percentage (687-465-31), which is 29th on the all-time list. With the decade-plus long drought in Boulder, Colorado has slipped to a .578 wining percentage (710-514-36), good enough for 38th on the all-time list.

The other category in which Utah has a lead is in bowl winning percentage. Colorado has a losing record in bowl games (12-16), while Utah has one of the best bowl winning percentages in the nation (17-5, 2nd-best in the country).

Otherwise, however, Colorado has significant advantages, including:

— Weeks in the Associated Press poll: CU, 304 … Utah, 135;

— Consensus All-Americans: CU, 31 … Utah, 8;

— NFL draft picks: CU, 272 … Utah, 161; and

— National championships and Heisman trophy winners: CU, 1 each … Utah, 0 for each.

Colorado and Utah – head-to-head

This will be the 66th meeting between the two schools, in a series which dates back to 1903. Colorado leads the all-time tally, 32-30-3.

Colorado won the first three games in the series, winning the games played between 1903-05 by a combined score of 101-11. Utah’s best run in the series came between 1925-33, when the Utes ran off nine straight wins. CU had a nice run of its own, winning eight of the ten games between 1951 and 1962 before the rivalry went dormant.

Utah won four of the first five meetings after the pair joined the Pac-12, with the Buffs breaking a four-game losing streak with a 27-22 win in 2016. Before joining the Pac-12, the two teams hadn’t met on the gridiron since 1962.

The Utes lead the series in games played in Salt Lake City, 17-14-2. Colorado won the first game between the rivals in their new conference, taking a 17-14 decision over the Utes in Salt Lake City in 2011.

The Utes then won the next four games between the two teams, with every Utah win being close … 42-35 (2012); 24-17 (2013); 38-34 (2014); and 20-14 (2015).

In the only game between the two teams in the series with both teams being ranked was played in 2016, with the Buffs winning, 27-22, to claim their first Pac-12 South title.

In 2017, in a game between two 5-6 teams looking for bowl bids, Utah ran away from the Buffs, winning 34-13. Utah went on to win its bowl game (the only Pac-12 team to do so), finishing 7-6 with a boost in momentum for the 2018 season. CU, of course, finished 5-7, and stayed home for the holidays.

Last year, the Buffs were again one win away from a bowl bid, but the Utes were 8-3, ranked No. 21 in the country, and one win away from their first Pac-12 South title. The game was tied, 7-7, at halftime, and was played in frigid temperatures and a crowd of 16,627 (39,360 tickets sold). The Utes went on to bury the Buffs, 30-7, in what proved to be Mike MacIntyre’s final game as the head coach at Colorado.

Pac-12 Notes … 

— Three teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the most recent Associated Press poll. Utah replaces Oregon at No. 6, with the Ducks falling to No. 14. New to the polls this week is USC, which has finished its regular season with an 8-4 record;

— Every team in the Pac-12 has at least four victories, the only FBS conference which can make this claim. How rare? The only other time it’s occurred out west since the Pac-8 pulled it off … in 1965;

— Pac-12 National Leaders after Week Six: Washington State, passing offense (456.7 yards/game); Oregon, interceptions (17); Anthony Gordon, Washington State, passing yards/game (447.3), completions per game (37.91); and total offense/game (449.5); Evan Weaver, Cal, tackles/game (14.9)

Trivia Question of the Week … Colorado is one of only five schools which has at least two alumni serving as captains for their respective NFL teams. Care to hazard a guess as to which two former Buffs are currently captains for their teams? (Hint: one was a sixth round pick in 2007; the other a first round pick in 2011).

Answer … Kicker Mason Crosby (taken by Green Bay in sixth round of the 2007 draft) is currently a captain for the Packers, while offensive tackle Nate Solder (taken by in the first round of the 2011 draft by the New England Patriots – No. 17 overall) is currently a captain for the New York Giants.


2 Replies to “Friday Fast Facts”

  1. VK, even after all the disappointments over the last many years I still dream, cross my fingers, and say who knows, maybe tomorrow in that cold stadium by 8 something PM it could happen.

  2. Here is my fast fact

    In 2015 The kornkobs went to a bowl game with a 5 and 7 record.
    Cause not enough 6 win teams.

    Praise the Buffalo and make happen not enough this year and the Mighty Buffs get selected.

    They deserve it.


    Note: ep’s kingdom for a made kick against airforce.
    Note 2: az’s kingdom for a game ending drive against Arizona
    Note 3: stu’s kindom for a time consuming drive against USC

    Damn Note: Any 1 of the above Mein Gott Mein Gott Mein Gott

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