CU at Arizona State: “T.I.P.S.” for CU’s First Road Game of the Season

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: Minnesota post-mortem and Arizona State preview” can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can find the podcast here or here.

Last week, Pat Rooney of the Daily Camera speculated that the Minnesota game “could impact the critical weeks to come. If they win, the Buffs travel to Arizona State high on confidence … With a loss, however, not only will the Buffs fail to capitalize on the momentum of nearly knocking off Texas A&M, but that same schedule suddenly takes a more daunting complexion. Instead of visiting a venue at Arizona State where the home team is battling its own inner turmoil (and where the Buffs won last time), that journey becomes a demanding trip …”.

Well, welcome to a “demanding trip”.

It’s true that Arizona State comes into the Pac-12 opener for both schools with issues of its own. After boring romps through overwhelmed Southern Utah and UNLV, the Sun Devils met their match in their first road game of the season, falling to BYU, 27-17, last Saturday night. ASU, which opened the season as the No. 25 team in the nation in the AP preseason poll, jumped to No. 21 and then to No. 19 before BYU dropped them out of the polls this week (ASU is No. 31 in votes this week).

The last time CU traveled to Tempe, the Buffs upset No. 24 Arizona State.

All in all, it’s a shame that the Sun Devils won’t be giving the Buffs another chance at a road victory over a ranked team – those are hard to come by.

So, without further adieu, here are the “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ Pac-12 conference opener against the Sun Devils …

This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU at Arizona State – Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPNU

T – Talent

The ASU offense begins and ends with quarterback Jayden Daniels. A freshman All-American in 2019, Daniels is on all of the preseason award watch lists, and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection. Through three games, Daniels has passed for 572 yards (Brendon Lewis, by comparison, has passed for, um, 246 yards) … oh, and Daniels has rushed for 173 yards on 29 carries (a 6.0 yards/carry average), so the Buff defenders will need to be on their toes to contain him.

The Buffs won’t be able to focus on any one receiver, though, as four players have between 109 and 117 receiving yards this season. The main wide receiver target is Ricky Pearsall, who has 11 receptions in the first three games, but keep an eye on Andre Johnson, who had a 55-yard reception against BYU.

Still, the main threats to the Buff defense, other than the quarterback Daniels, will come on the ground. The leading rusher is Rachaad White, who is not only the Sun Devils’ leading rusher (44 carries for 219 yards and five touchdowns), but also the leading receiver (15 catches for another 117 yards).

But the runner who caught my eye in the game against BYU is Daniyel Ngata, a speedster who has had a rushing touchdown in every game this season, and is averaging 7.3 yards every time he touches the ball.

On defense, the Sun Devils feature two first-team All-Pac-12 performers in defensive lineman Jermayne Lole and defensive back Chase Lucas. Linebacker Darien Butler, with 20 tackles (including two sacks), currently leads the Sun Devils in those categories.

What doesn’t bode well for CU’s struggling offense is the fact that Arizona State is 11th in the nation in total defense, giving up only 246.7 yards/game. Granted, some of those great numbers were against out-manned foes in the first two games, but even against BYU, the Sun Devils were able to hold the Cougars to 361 yards of total offense.

For a CU offense which hasn’t scored in seven quarters, those are pretty daunting numbers.


I – Intangibles

There’s an old coaching cliché that you don’t let the same team beat you twice. Translation: Don’t let the hangover from the tough loss you just sustained have an impact on the next game.

Arguably, the Buffs suffered a hangover from the close loss to No. 5 Texas A&M, and weren’t fully prepared for the Golden Gophers (well, at least the offense wasn’t prepared. Whether you blame the non-existent offensive output on a timid quarterback, a sieve of an offensive line, or poor play calling – or all of the above – there is no question that the output against Minnesota was of historically poor proportions).

Could that hold true for the Sun Devils this weekend? Arizona State has been the darling of many a prognosticator for the past nine months, but ASU’s College Football Playoff aspirations took an almost fatal hit with the loss to BYU. An undefeated run through the Pac-12 schedule could result in a playoff berth, but no team has made it through the Pac-12 regular season unscathed since the league was formed.

Is it possible that the Sun Devils suffer a let down after the BYU game?

Certainly possible.

For a team which went 2-2 in an abbreviated 2020 season (compared to CU’s 4-2), the 2021 preseason magazines were ebullient in their praise of Arizona State.

Said Athlon: This appears to be the most talented and experienced ASU team in many years, perhaps even going as far back as its last Rose Bowl berth in the 1996 season. With a generous front end of the schedule to build momentum, external expectations are so high that anything short of a Pac-12 South title will be considered a disappointment by a decent percentage of the program’s fan base. Fewer than nine wins definitely won’t cut it.

That’s a lot to live up to … and now Arizona State is back among the others, looking up at the Top 25.

Can’t help but be a little bit let down.


P – Preparation/Schedule

It’s rare that preparation is a major factor in a game, unless one team is coming off of a bye, one team is playing back-to-back road games, one team just lost their star player to injury, etc.

But preparation and the schedule may work to the Buffs’ advantage this weekend.

Yes, it’s CU’s first true road game, but it’s also a chance for the team to bond, and do so far away from the evermore skeptical eyes watching in Folsom Field, may actually be a blessing.

And yes, it will be hot. The forecast has it the mid-90’s in Tempe at kickoff (even at 8:30 at night, it still hasn’t cooled down much). That being said, it will be the third straight game the Buffs will have played in the heat. It was 92-degrees at kickoff for the Texas A&M game, and, while it was officially at 70-degrees for the 11:00 a.m. kickoff against Minnesota, anyone who was in Folsom Field last weekend knows that it wasn’t 70-degrees in the second half. (Oh, and at least the Buffs will be in white uniforms for the game).

Plus, here’s what might be working against the Sun Devils this Saturday.

Not the heat – they’re used to it, one would assume – but the timing of the conference opener.

For those national pundits planning on Herm Edwards & Co. posting ASU’s second-ever Pac-12 South Division title (the other coming in 2013), the Colorado game was looked upon as the warm up game for the truly important game … a road tilt against UCLA in the Rose Bowl next weekend. Two weeks ago, ASU was 2-0 and ranked, and UCLA was coming off of a big win over LSU and ranked … while USC was firing its coach after losing to Stanford … it appeared that the winner between Arizona State and UCLA would not only have the inside track to the Pac-12 South title, but would be in position, with an upset of Oregon in the title game, to be a College Football Playoff contender.

While the ASU/UCLA game will still have implications in the South division race, it has lost a great deal of its luster, with both the Sun Devils falling out of the polls, and UCLA dropping 11 spots to No. 24.

Arizona State fans had a 4-0 record penciled in to start the season. Southern Utah and UNLV were not even a consideration, and BYU? The Cougars were coming off of a great season in 2020, but, unlike most teams in the COVID-2021 season, actually lost a great deal of talent from last year’s roster, including Zach Wilson, a first round NFL pick.

And then there was Colorado. Sure, the Buffs were 4-2 in 2020, but that was an aberration. Plus, the game would be in Tempe.

No, it’s not likely that many Sun Devil coaches, players or fans had this weekend’s game circled at the beginning of the season. And now, with the Buffs reeling, the game poses even less of a challenge.

Perhaps – not likely, but perhaps – the Buffs can catch the Sun Devils looking past this game, and turn the contest into a real battle.


S – Statistics 

There are ugly stats, then there really ugly stats.

And then there are the numbers CU is putting up on offense.

Hang in there … I’ll be gentle …

The Race to 1,000 … Tailbacks Alex Fontenot and Jarek Broussard were in a race to become the 55th player in school history to rush for 1,000 career yards.  Alex Fontenot needed only four yards against Minnesota to get to 1,000, and, against the Gophers, Fontenot had three carries – for four yards. Fontenot is at 1,000 yards (at least until his first carry against the Sun Devils goes for a loss … ). Jarek Broussard, meanwhile, is at 966 career yards after gaining all of eight yards on five carries against Minnesota.

Stats to make you smile … You think CU has problems with penalties? Arizona State is 129th in the nation in penalties, averaging 12/game (the Sun Devils had 16 penalties for 121 yards against BYU). The Buffs, meanwhile, are at 41st in the nation in penalties (after having only five in the past two games) … ASU is also 104th in the country in turnovers, surrendering the ball ten times in the first three games (four against BYU).

Stats to make you cringe … Sigh … Where to start? … There are 130 FBS teams, and Colorado is … 126th in first downs (42) … 129th in passing offense (91.0 yds/game) …126th in total offense (235.3 yds/game) … and 126th in scoring offense (14.0 pts/game) … you get the idea …

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will decide the game) … If the CU offense is going to be successful, it needs to work on a short field. The Buff defense has generated all of two turnovers in three games. Meanwhile, Arizona State, as noted above, has turned the ball over ten times in three games. If the Buffs can generate the four turnovers BYU did last Saturday night, this could be a game … A boring stat, I know, but time of possession is telling for CU this young season. Minnesota wore down the CU defense with the Buff offense going three-and-out time and time again. Colorado is currently 118th in the nation in time of possession, holding the ball for just 26:22 of game clock. Arizona State, meanwhile, is 26th in the nation in time of possession (32:20 per game) …


Prediction … 

If you read my Essay for the Minnesota game, “Why Should We Continue to Care?“, you know that I am not only concerned about the Buffs being 1-2, but that the performance by the offense was so bad that it will kill the rest of the season.

We’re up to seven quarters and counting without the Buffs scoring a point. Now, in case you were wondering, the University of Colorado football team played the first three games in school history without scoring a point. CU’s 1890 results:

  • Denver Athletic Club 20, Colorado 0
  • Colorado Mines 103, Colorado 0 (yes, that score is correct)
  • Colorado Springs A.A. 44, Colorado 0
  • Colorado Mines 50, Colorado 4

So, there were at least 12 straight quarters in CU’s first season without a point, so the 2021 Buffs have that going for them … which is nice.

I would think/assume/pray that the Buffs will not extend their shutout streak into a second full game, but that depends on what the CU coaching staff comes up with.

Karl Dorrell said it was premature to give up on the season.

“Up until last week, this team has made a lot of progress,” he said. “They will continue to do so. Unfortunately, that was not a great performance and we all know that. The best thing about it is that our guys took it dead in the eye about understanding what our issues were and we got everything addressed and talked about. It showed today with our first practice of the week with our preparation for ASU.

“We’re moving on forward to ASU and it was a really good energy today (Monday) with what we’re doing. Obviously, we’re trying to get the bad taste out of our mouth and it starts with having a great preparation week so we can play well this Saturday.”

Hope springs eternal. The Buffs won the last time they traveled to Tempe, and that was against a ranked team. Herm Edwards is 0-2 against Colorado.

That’s not enough … until or unless the CU offense proves otherwise, the next best chance at a win will be against Arizona on October 16th.

Prediction … Arizona State 27, Colorado 13

Previous predictions …

  • Colorado 38, Northern Colorado 17 … Actual: Colorado 35, Northern Colorado 7
  • No. 5 Texas A&M 38, Colorado 17 … Actual: No. 5 Texas A&M 10, Colorado 7
  • Colorado 21, Minnesota 20 … Actual: Minnesota 30, Colorado 0


15 Replies to “CU at Arizona State: “T.I.P.S” for Buffs v. Sun Devils”

  1. I really really want to make a prediction.
    But I’m scared.
    Scared Chev is still totally in charge of the offense and HCKD really hasn’t exerted any pressure and the Chev show is still just to “show his scheme and brilliance” rather than showcase the skill of the players”………… the QB.

    Scared there really is a letdown and all we been getting from the inside is Puff Puff Puff and ??

    So my prediction is
    Buffs 14

    Yup the Buffs d will stuff that disorganized mess
    Yup the Buffs will score two touchdowns.
    Both by the defense

    Go Buffs

  2. Last week I thought the Buffs would come out nasty and determined after the TAMU loss, and manhandle the Gophers. Oops. This week I predict the Sun Devils will actually be able to come out nasty and determined after the BYU loss, and manhandle the Buffs. I don’t expect any significant changes in strategy or execution on offense. We would all love if it was different and exciting and tailored around the QB strengths but sadly that’s not going to happen (c’mon coaches, blow us away!!). The game is not going to be pretty. ASU 38 CU 10.

    1. Still you are giving the Buffs a TD. That might be possible if 2 or 3 of the ASU defenders all suffer a torn ACL at the same time while Jarek is running at them….or …maybe if Brendon goes rogue with one of the receivers and calls their own play.
      More likely God will make an appearance at the stadium, declare that the Buffs have suffered long enough as he proceeds to part the ASU defense.
      Expecting any change in the Buff’s offense is like expecting Lucy to the hold the ball down for Charlie Brown. Herm the worm knows his and is humming a Taj Mahal tune tune called ” Fishin blues”
      put em in the box
      then put em in the pan
      and cookem till their nice and brown.

      1. Ha that made me laugh. I was leaning towards just a FG but maybe Buffs get a TD in 4th quarter garbage time. Dreamers gotta dream you know.

  3. Northwestern will redevelop Ryan Field in the coming years with funds from a $480 million gift from the family of Patrick and Shirley Ryan, the university announced Wednesday.

    I wish that was my family.

    Go Buffs

  4. There is always the chance the Gophers were KD’s version of Daddy Hawkins’ Kansas or Mac the wife’s OSU. I doubt it though. Doesnt seem like KD blows smoke and flatulence like those 2. Or maybe its just understated.
    After watching the helter skelter ASU offense and its problems its not beyond the pale that the Buff’s D scores once or twice on a pick six or a fumble recovery….or maybe even….gasp ……get the O enough field position….like inside the 5 yard line.
    ASU still wins. They still have a passing game….such as it is.

  5. I am such an optimist but Dorrell’s press conference leads me to believe he still has hope in what they were doing (which I do not). Buffs lose 24-6. Carter comes in and plays and moves the ball but ASU stops the run and we just don’t have the horses to get it into the end zone.

    1. I think the last thing KD would do would be to broadcast any substantial changes to Herm the worm. Having said that I dont see any coming either. Its been sooooo long……without any

  6. I can see the 13…HCKD tweaks the O (wishbone, Wildcat, whatever) and we get some points in the 1st half….but then the adjustments come from the D in the 2nd half, and hopefully we don’t see a replay of last week.

  7. It is very difficult to see how the offense can flip the switch.
    Is there even any juice hooked to the switch to perpetuate a change?
    Who even knows where the switch is?
    Maybe the switch is broken?
    Perhaps it’s a dimmer switch and the power is on but someone forgot to slide it up to full power?
    Could it be there is no switch and this is a bright as it gets.
    Or the switch is on and nobody is home.
    Is there a glass case on the switch with a little hammer and a sign that says “break in emergency”

    Perhaps the real switch is the one my granny use to keep close to her when all the grandkids were at the farm. Maybe that is the one HCKD needs to get out of his bottom desk drawer.


    Note: I am not expecting a lot of good stuff from this game but am hoping for much more

    Note: Handle it or get the hell out of the way.

  8. Well in the Minn. game recap I said I would pick the same score here on out until I see a new Offense, or new Coordinators, or even new QB, so until then
    ASU 38 CU -3 …. Yes NEGATIVE 3!!!

  9. It seems , given no change of O coordinator and our abysmal offense, that we will wind up with another embarrassment and perhaps even a rout. But then there are ASU’s issues and their consistent overrated status. Is there a chance that we actually design plays which leverage players’ strengths? Yes but I think it is a very small one. Chev seems to overthink things. Someone posted that he plays checkers instead of chess. Maybe he needs to look at his chess pieces and figure out how to best use them. But change comes hard so I’m not counting on it though I hope to see it. ASU 35 CU 3. Please prove me terribly wrong.

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