Friday Fast Facts – Colorado v. San Diego State

Big Picture

— Colorado and San Diego State have played only once before. In 2002, No. 17 CU downed SDSU, 34-14, in a game played in Boulder;

— CU has scored 35 or more points in the first two games of the season for the 17th time in school history, and for the fourth time this century (2005; 2013; 2016; 2020);

— Karl Dorrell is the 11th coach in CU history to open his career with two victories (out of 27); he is the 13th to win his first two conference games. Of the 23 new head coaches hired in 2020, only five won their first two games – Karl Dorrell; Jeff Hafley (Boston College; Brady Hoke (San Diego State); Jim Traylor (UTSA) and Jimmy Lake (Washington). Only Traylor went on to win his third game (Jimmy Lake will has his chance at a third straight win Saturday night when Washington takes on Utah);

— For just the third time in school history, Colorado is undefeated heading into Thanksgiving weekend. The 1937 Buffs were 8-0 through November. Led by Byron “Whizzer” White, the Buffs’ only loss of the season came on New Year’s Day, a 28-14 loss to Rice (CU’s first-ever bowl game). In 1989, the Buffs were 11-0 through November, carrying a No. 1 ranking into the Orange Bowl (a 21-6 loss to Notre Dame);

— Colorado is 712-515-36 all-time (.578). The Buffs are 26th in all-time victories; 37th in all-time winning percentage;

— San Diego State represents just the fourth team CU has played on Thanksgiving weekend since the Buffs joined the newly formed Big 12 back in 1996, when CU started playing Nebraska on Thanksgiving weekends. In addition to Nebraska and San Diego State, the Buffs have played Utah on Thanksgiving weekends (since joining the Pac-12), except for in 2018, when Utah played BYU in a prearranged game, leaving CU with a game against Cal to wrap up the regular season;

— The CU/USC game was to be telecast nationally by the ABC. The CU/San Diego State game, however, will be broadcast only on the Pac-12 Networks (3:00 p.m., MT, Saturday). KOA radio will have Mark Johnson with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett handling the commentary.

Buffs v. Aztecs

— As noted, the two teams have only played once before. In the 2002 game, the Buffs survived the loss of quarterback Craig Ochs to injury to win their home-opener, 34-14. Ochs suffered a concussion late in the second quarter and did not return. Senior quarterback Robert Hodge teamed with a “bend-but-don’t-break” Colorado defense in the second half to help the Buffs pull away from the Aztecs;

— The Aztecs had their chances to take down an undefeated Nevada team last weekend, but came up just short. San Diego State was unable to convert on fourth-and-goal from the Nevada 5-yard line in the late moments and had to settle for a 26-21 loss.

With the Aztec (3-2, 3-2 MW) offense sputtering in the second half, SDSU caught a break when Darren Hall picked off Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong on the UN 26-yard line with 3:23 remaining in the game. On a first-and-goal at the Nevada four yard line, Aztec quarterback Lucas Johnson’s pass attempt to Jesse Matthews in the left-corner of the end zone was batted down by Wolf Pack cornerback Berdale Robins. On second down, UN stopped Chance Bell for a 1-yard loss. On third-and-goal from the 5, Johnson’s throw to a crossing Matthews was just behind him, setting up the fourth-and-goal situation. Following a timeout, Johnson’s pass attempt to the left side of the end zone sailed over Kobe Smith’s head, setting up a Nevada kneel down.

Bar bet winner … CU has opened with 2-0 record in the abbreviated 2020 season. How long has it been since the Buffs opened with a 3-0 record? … Answer … It’s not as long ago as you think. The Buffs opened with a 3-0 record in both 2017 and 2018;

— Something has to give Department … CU is +2.00/game in turnover margin (tied for second in the nation), while San Diego State has forced nine turnovers so fall this fall. If the Buffs can maintain their turnover margin against the Aztecs, the Buffs should win.

Player Notes … 

— Senior quarterback Sam Noyer is just the 12th Colorado quarterback since 1959 to win his first two career starts. The last to win the first three was Mike Moschetti, in 1998. Moschetti’s leading receiver that year was Darrin Chiaverini – who is now Noyer’s offensive coordinator;

— Against Stanford, Noyer became just the 6th player in Colorado history with two rushing and two passing touchdowns in the same game, joining Byron “Whizzer” White (1937), Darian Hagan (1989), Tyler Hansen (2011), Jordan Webb (2012) and Sefo Liufau (2015);

Jarek Broussard (187 yards v. UCLA; 121 yards v. Stanford) joined Charlie Davis (1971) and Marcus Houston (2000) as the only Buffs to rush for over 100 yards in the first two games of their CU careers. Charlie Davis is the only Buff – to date – to have three 100-yard rushing games to start their career at Colorado;

— With his 17 tackle (14 solo) Pac-12 Player of the Week effort against Stanford, junior linebacker Nate Landman became the 11th player in CU history with over 200 unassisted tackles. Landman’s POTW recognition was the second such accolade in his career, as Landman also earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors in the season opener last year against Colorado State (with 14 tackles, an interception, and two third down stops);

Tight end casting call … When Brady Russell caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown against UCLA, it marked the first time since 2012 that a tight end led the team in receiving yards. But … Russell went down with a leg injury early in the Stanford game. His backup, Matt Lynch, is also injured. Which means that walk-on C.J. Schmanski could start against USC. If he does, it will mark just the 10th walk-on since 1992 to start a game for CU (most recent: offensive guard Jack Shutack, who started five games last fall). Two former defensive players, defensive tackle Nico Magri and linebacker Alec Pell, have moved over to help shore up the tight end position;

Colorado and San Diego State – historical

— San Diego State, as you might imagine, does not have the history of success that Colorado enjoys. One example: CU is 29th all-time in weeks spent in the AP poll, with 304. Not great, but San Diego State has been ranked all of 22 weeks in its history, 90th nationally;

— In comparing apples to apples – all-time winning percentage – San Diego State fares pretty well. The Buffs have an all-time winning percentage of .578 (712-515-36), good enough for 37th nationally, while the Aztecs have a winning percentage of .569 (569-428-32);

— San Diego State does lead Colorado in one of the 12 categories tracked by Winsipedia.com, and that would be bowl winning percentage. The Aztecs are not great in bowl winning percentage (.429, going 6-8), but that is still better than CU’s track record in post-season play, with the Buffs sporting a .414 winning percentage (12-17).

Pac-12 Notes … 

— Only two teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the latest AP poll, with Oregon in at No. 9, and USC at No. 19 (Washington, at No. 26, was the only other team in the conference to receive votes);

— Matters were even bleaker for the conference in the first release of the College Football Playoff Rankings. Oregon came in at No. 15, while USC was ranked 19th. The consensus from the pundits is that there is too much ground to be made up for either Oregon or USC to be considered Playoff contenders;

— USC’s Kedon Slovis leads the Pac-12 in passing (323.3 yds/game), while CU’s Jarek Broussard leads the conference in rushing (154.0 yds/game);

Red Zone efficiency … Colorado leads the Pac-12 in red zone touchdown efficiency, with nine touchdowns in ten red zone chances (90%).

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