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Colorado at No. 7 Utah – “T.I.P.S.” for the 2019 Regular Season Finale

Last Saturday, the Oregon/Arizona State was chosen by ABC to be their prime time game. The network wanted to showcase the Ducks against an inferior opponent, giving Oregon a chance to make a case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

Oregon was a 16-point favorite on the road. Result? Arizona State 31, No. 6 Oregon 28.

This Saturday, the Colorado/Utah game has been given the same prime time slot by ABC. The network wants to showcase the Utes against an inferior opponent, giving Utah a chance to make a case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

No. 6 Utah is a 28.5-point favorite at home.

Result? … To be determined.

This week’s “T.I.P.S.” for CU at No. 7 Utah … Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MT, ABC

T – Talent 

Where to start?

Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley is fifth nationally in passer rating, at 187.61 and second in completion percentage (75.0). He’s thrown for 2,608 yards, 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Running back Zack Moss leads the Pac-12 in rushing yards (115.8 per game) and rushing touchdowns (14). He is 12th nationally in yards per game.

Huntley and Moss have accounted for 78.8 percent of Utah’s total offense (3,994 of 5,071 total yards) through 11 games, and the Utes’ offense, behind a stout offensive line, has been overwhelming the opposition. The Utes have scored 30 or more points nine times this season (the most for the Utes since 2008), and have posted over 500 yards of total offense five times (the most since 2004).

“It’s a huge challenge but it’s one that we love,” linebacker Nate Landman said. “We consider ourselves a physical defense and a physical team. Playing the last two games, Stanford and Washington, are considered some of the toughest and most physical teams in the Pac. Now Utah, who’s in that same category. We’ve put together a couple good games the last two weeks and we want to continue building on that. Those physical games, we kind of embrace and look forward to those.”

While the Utah offense has been proficient, it’s defense has been nothing short of dominant.

The Utes are third in the nation in total defense (243.8 yards/game) behind only Ohio State and Clemson, and fourth in the nation in scoring defense (10.9 points/game), behind only Ohio State, Clemson, and Georgia.

That’s some pretty heady company.

It gets worse if you look at how well the Utes’ defense has performed at home against Pac-12 competition.

Late in the first quarter of their game against Washington State on September 28th, the Ute defense gave up a four-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Gordon and the Cougars.

Since then – nada.

Through 15 quarters of football, the Utes haven’t given up a touchdown at home. That would be:

  • the last three quarters of Utah’s 38-13 win over Washington State;
  • all four quarters of Utah’s 21-3 win over No. 21 Arizona State;
  • all four quarters of Utah’s 35-0 win over California; and
  • all four quarters of Utah’s 49-3 win over UCLA.

That’s not just dominant … that’s absurdly dominant.

I – Intangibles 

— Three weeks ago, it wasn’t even being discussed.

Two weeks ago, it was a verrry unlikely scenario.

Now, while it remains a steep uphill climb, it’s right there in front of them.

When CU was dominated by UCLA, 31-14, on November 2nd, leaving the Buffs with a 3-6 record and a five-game losing streak, no one was talking about Colorado as a bowl team.

Then the Buffs beat Stanford, 16-13. It was great to break the losing streak, but the 4-6 Buffs remained well off of anyone’s bowl projections.

Then the Buffs beat Washington, 20-14. Just like that, the 5-6 Buffs were still alive for a bowl bid, with just one game left to play.

“Since UCLA we have been saying we are in the playoffs,” senior safety Mikial Onu said. “We have to win three straight to get a fourth game. (The last two games), we have played as good as we have played all year and better than we have played all year.

“That speaks to the grit of our team and how much these guys want it. The whole team wants it bad. You can tell by how we play and how we have been practicing.”

“That’s something that we need to look forward to next week and definitely prepare more than we’ve ever prepared before,” senior center Tim Lynott said after Saturday’s win. “We are going to treat this week as if we are going to a championship.”

— Meanwhile, over in the Utah locker room, there is a team which also has plenty to play for this weekend. Unlike Washington, which came to Boulder with a 6-4 record, and little incentive for victory other than to improve their bowl position, Utah has championship aspirations.

A win, and the Utes are Pac-12 South champions for a second consecutive year. A win, and the Utes get the chance to beat Oregon in the title game, and perhaps earn a shot at the College Football Playoffs – or, as a consolation, the program’s first Rose Bowl.

A loss, and Utah doesn’t even get to play in the Pac-12 title game (with USC winning the Pac-12 South). The Utes, dreaming of a national championship, will likely be relegated to the Holiday Bowl.

It’s all-or-nothing for Utah this weekend, and Buff fans can expect the Utes to play accordingly.

P – Preparation/Schedule

— Both teams are on winning streaks. CU’s streak has reached two, which is not insignificant. The Buffs have only two other two-win Novembers since joining the Pac-12. In 2011, the first season in the league, the Buffs went 2-2 in November. In 2016, the Buffs went 4-0 in the final month of the regular season.

In the other six seasons since joining the conference? The Buffs have gone 1-22 in November games.

That’s 1 … and … 22.

So … a 2-1 November to date in the first year under Mel Tucker? Not so bad.

Meanwhile, the Utes are on a seven-game winning streak, out-scoring the opposition along the way by a cumulative score of 263-61 (I’ll do the math for you – that works out to an average score of 37-9 … or right about how Las Vegas has the game projected (Utah a 28-point favorite, with the over/under around 50).

Yikes.

— The weather forecast for the 5:30 p.m., MT, kickoff on Saturday is improving – marginally. Once listed as a high of 27-degrees with a low of 12-degrees, the Salt Lake City Saturday forecast is currently up to a high of 32 and a low of 15. Still not great, but, as long as the snow ends in time to be cleared off the field (it’s supposed to stop snowing Friday night), then the participants should at least have a decent field on which to play.

“The snow is good; that’s football weather to me,” Mel Tucker said. “I was literally born in the snow, January 4 in Cleveland, Ohio, so I love the snow.

“There’s no reason to have any issues relative to the weather. Both teams have to play in it, so I think it’s a positive. It’s just another opportunity for us to go out there and show what we can do, on the road, under whatever conditions.”

Next weekend … Well, it truly is “all-or-nothing” for both teams.

If the Buffs win, they start checking out bowl projections. If the Buffs lose, they pack away their uniforms until spring practices.

If the Utes win, they take on Oregon for the Pac-12 title. If the Utes lose, there’s no national championship, no Pac-12 championship, not even a Pac-12 South title.

S – Statistics

— Dating back to CU’s surprising road upset over Washington State in 2012 (the lone victory in Jon Embree’s final season as head coach), CU had lost 29-straight games as a two-touchdown underdog. That streak came to an end against Washington, yet another first-in-awhile achievement under Mel Tucker.

That being said, the Buffs are 28-point underdogs this weekend. “Twenty-eight and a half,” Mel Tucker said Tuesday when asked about the point-spread. “You forgot the half point.”

At least Coach Tucker has a sense of humor about CU’s predicament.

— The Utes are outscoring conference opponents by 195 points with one game remaining, which compares favorably to the Pac-12’s two playoff entries: 2014 Oregon (170-point differential) and 2016 Washington (205);

— ESPN’s Power Football Index gives CU a 4.9% chance of beating the Utes (if it makes you feel any better, CU was only given a 16.3% chance of beating Washington);

— The first six games since the series with Utah was renewed in 2011 were decided by a total of 32 points; Utah has won the last pair by a combined 44 points (34-13 in 2017; 30-7 in 2018).

Prediction … It’s been an up-and-down season for the Buffs. Huge rivalry wins over Colorado State and Nebraska, coupled with a road win over a ranked Arizona State team (which is looking even better after Oregon was unable to come up with a victory on the same field), gave CU a 3-1 record and its fans dreams of grandeur.

That high, unfortunately was followed a five-game losing streak which brought back memories – bad memories – of the Buffs under Mike MacIntyre … and Jon Embree … and Dan Hawkins.

Then, just when the Buff Nation was contemplating an eight-game long losing streak to end the year, and yet another bleak off-season, the Buffs rebounded with wins over Stanford and Washington.

Can the Buffs pull off one more upset?

Fans tuning into the ABC coverage Saturday night will no doubt hear about how this is the 11th game over the course of the past three seasons in which Colorado has had the opportunity to post win No. 6 and obtain bowl eligibility.

Two of those games were against Utah, with the Buffs losing by three touchdowns to the Utes in both 2017 (34-13) and 2018 (30-7).

Last year, it was 28-degrees at kickoff, with a wind-chill at 19-degrees. The announced (ticket sales) crowd was 39,360, but only about 15,000 were actually in attendance to watch the Buffs fall apart in the second half in a 31-7 loss which proved to be Mike MacIntyre’s final game as CU’s head coach.

This year, it will be cold again, with the temperature at kickoff around the 28-degree mark once again. The Utah crowd will not likely be thinned by the weather, however, as the Utes have sold out every game at Rice-Eccles since joining the Pac-12, and Ute fans won’t want to miss a chance to send off their seniors as Pac-12 South champions.

Mel Tucker and his staff have the Buff Nation optimistic about the future. Buff fans have some great victories from this fall to remember, and a great Recruiting Class to look forward to (December 18th is just three weeks away!).

Mel Tucker & Co. will have other opportunities to post a Win No. 6 and get to a bowl … and they will come through.

It’s just not going to happen this year …

Prediction … Utah 27, Colorado 10 … 

Previous predictions … 

Washington 24, Colorado 14 … Actual: Colorado 20, Washington 14

Stanford 30, Colorado 27 … Actual: Colorado 16, Stanford 13

UCLA 34, Colorado 31 … Actual: UCLA 31, Colorado 14

USC 38, Colorado 20 … Actual: USC 35, Colorado 31

Washington State 35, Colorado 24 … Actual: Washington State 41, Colorado 10

— No. 13 Oregon 33, Colorado 17 … Actual: No. 13 Oregon 45, Colorado 3

Colorado 38, Arizona 31 … Actual: Arizona 35, Colorado 30

No. 24 Arizona State 27, Colorado 17 … Actual: Colorado 34, No. 24 Arizona State 31

— Colorado 34, Air Force 24 … Actual: Air Force 30, Colorado 24 (OT)

Colorado 37, No. 25 Nebraska 31 … Actual: Colorado 34, No. 25 Nebraska 31 (OT)

Colorado 38, Colorado State 20 … Actual: Colorado 52, Colorado State 31

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11 Replies to “Utah – “T.I.P.S.” for Regular Season Finale”

  1. The only good news is I have been wrong just about every game w/the Buffs this year after Nebraska. I hope we can just keep it competitive until the 4th quarter, that alone would show huge improvement from 2 months ago.

    1. If’n the Buffs don’t win, I feel the same way, Irie, however, the Buffs showed a lot of grit against a really well-coached team in Washington and that, notwithstanding, gets me really encouraged for next season. ( And, I’m really glad the Dogs was a home game ).

  2. The mere fact that the game is on ABC in prime time instead of Pac12 network at 10pm is a testament to the Buff improvement. Granted, the focus is 6th ranked Utah, but executives must think the Buffs will make it interesting.
    I hope potential recruits (and I) see a competitive game. Go Buffs!

  3. Oh man. I could talk about the scheme, the play calls and players making plays to beat the youts. I could talk about grit, determination, and relentless complementary football. But none of that matters. All that matters is tucker. If he rolls into that game in shorts? Buffs win.

    Go Buffs

  4. Though this season has been frustrating at times (missed extra point against AF as one example of why Buffs may not go bowling), aggravating (the road blowout losses), it has also been rewarding to see the progress at the end, overcoming Stanford and Washington and, IMO, the losing culture. We may finally have a true leader at the head coach level. Utah’s season is the peak of the last several years, a consistent physical identity, and leadership from the top. Though the Buffs are heading in the right direction and have shown remarkable resiliency and growth, I do not see it being enough to topple the Utes who are at their prime. Whatever the score, I am proud of the Buffs, particularly the senior class. They have shown that they are winners in the attitude department. The objective pick: Utah 31 CU 3 which is the spread of 28 (excluding the .5). The heart pick: CU 20 Utah 17 with Utah’s overconfidence and uncharacteristic turnovers cashed in by an opportunistic CU defense. Go Buffs!!!

  5. The Mighty Buffs…………………………yeeehaaa

    Montez and the offense (including the offense coaches) need to score at least 30 points to win (Been 16 in november so far)
    This offense has scored over 30 points 3 times in pac 12 play
    34 and a win against ASU
    30 and a Loss to Arizona
    31 and a loss to USC

    Thirty + and get a bowl game.

    They (especially Montez) needs to have (and the OC) need to have the games of their lives.

    November

    Buff Rush game has improved a lot #3 in pac 12 utes 1 only 50 yards different
    Buff pass games #12 in pac…..Utah #6 only 78 yards diff
    Just gotta score dang nab it. Handle it

    And the d in November
    passing D Buffs #3Utes #2 yards fif
    Rushing D Buffs Colorado 7 utes 2 60 yards dif
    Scoring D Buffs 2 utes 1 7 points diff.

    UP TO THE OFFENSE TO STEP IT UP.

    Expect The Buffs D to compete with the Utes O.
    Hopefully the Buffs O and the QB and the OC will come through and we won’t see any dumb krappola.

    Therefore

    I got a feelin’
    Saturday night’s gonna be a good night
    Saturday night’s gonna be a good night
    Saturday night’s gonna be a good, good night

    I got A feelin’ (Wooh-ooh)

    38-31

  6. If the buffs can compete in the game and make Utah really have to earn it then it will be a success in my mind. Signing day in my mind is where my main focus is. So if we can show on a national stage that we are capable of competing with a playoff hopeful team then I will be content with the outcome. Of course a victory and a bowl would propel us and make us possibly a sexy pick to win the south next season. But I cant expect us to do that.

    Utah 30, Colorado 13, utah scores 10 in the fourth in a tight 20-13 battle. Would love to be wrong.
    Go Buffs!

  7. So I think there is a chance. The defense has finally figured the scheme out and the offense has finally found its identity. Utah blew through Arizona becuase of great special teams play and the fact that Arizona stopped running the ball…. so Cu needs to stay committed to the run. They have finally figured it out that Montez is a great complimentary qb and as long as they stay committed to the run the play action pass opens up the necessary lanes for him to throw. The d is playing lights out. I am not sure if anyone remembers but at the beginning of the year I said that Landman looks “slow”. At the time I said it looks like to me he is still “thinking” and not just playing. I have a feeling that the whole defense was that way. And now that they are just playing you are going to start to see the consistent defense we all thought we would get with Tucker. Here it is: if the Buffs play lights out I predict 17-14, with the Buffs holding off a last minute drive of Utah!

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