Friday Fast Facts – Colorado at Arizona

Big Picture

— Colorado holds a 14-8 advantage in the all-time series against Arizona … but … the Wildcats hold a 7-2 advantage since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011. How bad has it been for the Buffs? The most wins the Wildcats have against any other team in the conference over that same span is four (with Arizona going 4-5 against Utah since the Utes joined the conference);

— CU is 11-10 all-time in games played in the state of Arizona, including a 2-2 record in bowl games;

— Since joining the Pac-12, CU has twice before started 2-0 in conference play (2016 & 2018), but lost game three both seasons. Put another way, the Buffs are trying for their first-ever 3-0 Pac-12 start this weekend;

— If history is a guide, the game will be a shootout. In the nine games played between CU and Arizona as Pac-12 members, the winning team has averaged 44 points per game (with 29 points per game for the loser);

— Karl Dorrell is only the 6th coach in CU history to open his career with three victories (out of 27); he is the 13th to win his first two conference games. Of the 23 new head coaches hired across the nation in 2020, only three won their first three games – Karl Dorrell (Colorado); Jim Traylor (UTSA) and Jimmy Lake (Washington);

— For just the third time in school history, Colorado is undefeated heading into December. 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 713-515-36 all-time (.578). The Buffs are 26th in all-time victories; 36th in all-time winning percentage;

— The CU/Arizona game will be telecast nationally by the FS1 (5:00 p.m., MT, Saturday). Alex Faust will handle the play-by-play, with Evan Moore on color (no sideline reporter). KOA radio will have Mark Johnson with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett handling the commentary.

Buffs v. Wildcats

— Oddly enough, CU is only 5-5 against Arizona in games played in Boulder, but has a healthy 9-3 advantage in games played in Tucson;

— CU has played Arizona three times as a ranked team (1956, 1958, 2016), winning all three. Arizona has played CU twice as a ranked team (1986, 2014), winning both;

— In the 2017 Kahlil Tate coming out party, everyone remembers that Tate set an NCAA rushing record for quarterbacks, torching the Buffs for 327 yards. But … the world has forgotten that CU’s Phillip Lindsay ran for 281 yards in the same game. The 608 combined yards rushing an NCAA record for two players in the same game;

— Karl Dorrell was 3-2 against Arizona as the head coach at UCLA (oddly enough, the Arizona press release for the game has Dorrell as going 2-3 against the Wildcats … but it really is 3-2);

— Bar bet winner … Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin was actually a CU assistant coach … for about a month. Sumlin was hired by Gary Barnett to be CU’s running backs coach in the winter of 2003 (replacing Eric Bieniemy, who left to be a part of Karl Dorrell’s staff at UCLA). About a month after being hired, Sumlin left Boulder for Oklahoma to be the Sooners’ tight ends and special teams coach;

— Something has to give Department … Colorado has lost seven of its last eight against Arizona (only USC’s 8-0 mark against the Buffs over that span is worse for CU in Pac-12 competition) … but … Arizona enters the game on a school-record ten game losing streak …

Player Notes … 

— Senior quarterback Sam Noyer has rushed for a touchdown in all three of CU’s games. The last Buff quarterback to score rushing touchdowns in three straight was Sefo Liufau in 2016;

— Noyer’s 3-0 start is the seventh-best for quarterbacks at Colorado. If the Buffs defeat the Wildcats, Noyer will tie Ken Johnson (1971) and Kordell Stewart (1992) for the fifth-best ever start, who both won their first four starts guiding the Buffs (all-time leader: Darian Hagan, with 11 straight wins to open the 1989 season);

— Sophomore running back Jarek Broussard (187 yards v. UCLA; 121 yards v. Stanford; 124 yards v. San Diego State) has joined Charlie Davis (1971) as the only Buffs to rush for over 100 yards in the first three games of their CU careers;

— Against San Diego State, senior linebacker Nate Landman had 11 tackles (10 solo), which included six stops behind the line of scrimmage (three sacks; three tackles for loss). For his efforts, Landman was named the Walter Camp national Defensive Player-of-the-Week, the Bronko Nagurski national Defensive Player-of-the-Week, the Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week, topping it off with being named a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award;

— Landman was the first Buff to earn the Walter Camp recognition since CB Terrence Wheatley in 2007 (three interceptions v. Texas Tech) … Landman won the Nagurski once before (v. Nebraska in 2018) … Landman won the Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week for the second week in a row (Stanford; San Diego State). The last Buff to win the Pac-12 Defensive POTW award was Tedric Thompson in 2016;

— CU has a strong history with the Butkus Award, with two winners (Alfred Williams, 1990; Matt Russell, 1996), two runner-ups (Ted Johnson, 1994; Jordon Dizon, 2007), and one other semi-finalist (Greg Biekert, 1992).

Colorado and Arizona … historical

In historical terms, Colorado has it all over Arizona.

It’s not that Colorado had much of a head start (CU started playing football in 1890; Arizona 1899), but that the Buffs have had much more consistent success over the decades.

In the 12 categories tracked by Winsipedia, Colorado leads Arizona in 11 … with the only category the Wildcats hold an edge over the Buffs is in bowl record percentage (Arizona: .452; 9-11-1; Colorado: .414, 12-17)

Otherwise …

— CU has a sizable lead in all-time wins, with 713 (26th all-time), while Arizona is at 617 (53rd all-time);

— CU has a similar lead in time spent in the Associated Press poll, with 304 weeks (29th), compared to Arizona’s 169 weeks (54th);

— When it comes to producing NFL talent, the Buffs are also comfortably ahead of the Wildcats. CU has had 275 NFL picks (23rd) and 24 first round picks (28th), compared to Arizona’s 182 (48th) and 10 (55th);

— Perhaps the widest gap is in conference championships. Colorado has 26 in its history (10th nationally), while Arizona has six titles in its 119-year history (89th nationally).

Colorado and Arizona – head-to-head

— After the initial contest in 1931 (a 27-7 Buff victory), the teams played ten more times between 1950 and 1960, with Colorado winning every game;

— The two teams played a home-and-home in the mid-1980’s, with Colorado stretching its lead in the series to 12-0 with a 14-13 road victory in 1985. The following season, the Wildcats won their first game in the series, with No. 10 Arizona defeating Colorado, 24-21, in Boulder;

— The series lay dormant for the next 25 seasons, until the Buffs joined the Pac-12. Colorado won the first game with Arizona – the Buffs’ first win as a Pac-12 member – 48-29. After that, the Wildcats ran off a four-game winning streak, scoring at least 38 points in each game … and rushing for a total of 1,422 yards (an average of 355.5 rushing yards per game). The Buffs finally broke through again in 2016, when No. 16 Colorado defeated Arizona, 48-29, in Tucson;

— In 2017, Kahlil Tate set an FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback, going for 327 yards and four touchdowns (on only 14 carries), leading Arizona to a 45-42 victory in Boulder. In 2018, Tate passed for 350 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-34 Wildcat victory in Tucson. For the hat trick, Tate finished off his Buff trifecta with a 404-yard, three-touchdown effort in a 35-30 Arizona win last season in Boulder.

Pac-12 Notes … 

— Three teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the latest AP poll, though none higher than USC at No. 17. Oregon, after its loss to Oregon State, fell 12 spots to No. 21, while undefeated Washington entered the poll at No. 23. Colorado, the only undefeated Power Five conference school not to be ranked (the other five: Alabama; Notre Dame; Ohio State; USC; and Washington). The Buffs did receive enough votes (21) to come in as the No. 30 school in the nation. Oregon State received one vote in the latest poll;

— Matters were even bleaker for the conference in the second of the College Football Playoff Rankings. Oregon’s loss ended any remote hope for the Pac-12 to be in the playoffs. In the latest rankings, USC was the highest (No. 20), followed by Washington (No. 22) and Oregon (No. 23);

— Who will the Buffs play in Game Seven (December 18th/19th). The Pac-12’s statement on the subject: The Pac-12 has made the determination to preserve as much flexibility for these games as possible given the potential for COVID-19 disruptions that could lead to the need to reschedule important matchups. The conference plans to review games later in the season, and make an announcement at that time on our approach”.

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