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CU v. UCLA: “T.I.P.S.” for a Reeling CU Program

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU v. UCLA, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can listen to the podcast here.

So … How long have you been a Buff fan?

Depending on your age, you may have a different ending to the following sentence, “This is the worst CU team since ____ “.

If you are relatively new to the Buffs, you might answer 2018, when the Buffs, as part of an implosion which witnessed CU finishing the season on a seven-game losing streak, including blowing a 31-3 second half lead in a 41-34 overtime loss to Oregon State.

A bit older? Perhaps you recall the 2012 team, which went 1-11, including a 69-14 loss to Fresno State, where the Buffs found themselves in a 35-0 hole … in the first quarter.

Would 2006 be your choice? That was back when Dan Hawkins took a team which had won four Big 12 North division titles in the previous four seasons, and molded it into a 2-10 disaster, including an unthinkable 19-10 loss to Montana State to open the season.

1984 was a fun one, when the 1-10 Buffs were so bad … that third-year head coach Bill McCartney got a contract extension.

My nominee would be the 1980 Buffs. That team also finished with a 1-10 record, with those Chuck Fairbanks Buffs losing to Drake, falling to a Lee Corso coached Indiana team, 42-7, and made some undesired history in an 82-42 loss to Oklahoma.

Oh, and that team also fell behind UCLA – in the season opener, mind you – by the score of 56-0 … at halftime.

Speaking of the Bruins – Is this the week the Buffs score a touchdown before falling three scores behind?

Let’s find out …

 

This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU v. UCLA – Saturday, 12:oo noon, MT, Pac-12 Networks

T – Talent

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has had quite a career as the quarterback for the UCLA Bruins.

Check that … Dorian Thompson-Robinson has had quite a career at the quarterback for the UCLA Bruins … against Colorado.

In previous four starts (yes, four starts) against the Buffs, Thompson-Robinson has gone 76-for-129 passing for 924 yards, with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. DTR also has posted 33 carries for 236 yards and two more touchdowns (with 18 carries for 207 yards in the last two games alone).

Those numbers represent a career for many players, but it’s just four games against the Buffs … and now DTR gets a fifth game.

The only positive out of all of the above? Dorian Thompson-Robinson is still only 2-2 against Colorado, with both losses coming in games played in Boulder.

DTR has completed over 70% of his passes through the first three games of the 2022 season, with six touchdowns and one interception against inferior competition.

Running back Zach Charbonnet is also back, leading the team in rushing, with 189 yards and a touchdown in three games. (Deion Smith leads the Buffs with 169 yards and a touchdown).

UCLA has two receivers with over 100 yards so far this season, with Jake Bobo collecting 11 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown, with Kazmeir Allen posting 16 catches for 122 yards and a score.

Overall, the Bruins have been posting over 500 yards of total offense per game (16th nationally). Granted, the opposition has been Bowling Green, Alabama State and South Alabama, but the Colorado defense, which is 119th in total defense (452.0 yards/game) is in no position to sneer.

The UCLA defense is giving up only 290.3 yards per game (26th nationally), which will be a challenge for the sputtering Buff offense, which is generating only 245.3 yards/game (127th in the country).

The Bruins are going to score against the Colorado defense – the only question is how much.

The Buffs will probably be able to score against the UCLA defense – the only question is whether the game will still be in question when they do.

 

I – Intangibles

A noon kickoff.

That translates to an 11:00 a.m. kickoff for Pacific Time Zone players from UCLA, which sounds like a factor which would be an advantage for the homestanding Buffs.

Except … the Bruins are used to playing early. The season opener, against Bowling Green, kicked off at 11:30 a.m. local time. Alabama State was at 2:00 p.m., and South Alabama kicked off at 11:00 a.m. … the same time on the Bruins’ body clock as the CU game.

And yet … The Bruins have been snoozing through the beginnings of their games against double-digit underdogs. The Bruins trailed Bowling Green 17-7 after 21 minutes in Week 1, and they trailed South Alabama 17-6 after 26 minutes in Week 3. They rallied both times but still needed a last-second field goal to beat the Jaguars last Saturday.

If the Buffs were able – for the first time this season – to get off to a fast start, they could take advantage of the Bruins’ lethargy. But, considering CU has scored three touchdowns in three games, with all three scores coming after the Buffs were three (or more) touchdowns behind, this doesn’t seem like a likely fix.

The CU coaching staff is playing for its collective professional livelihoods. Will that bring about more inventiveness on offense? More blitzes and risk taking on defense? A motivated team playing for their beloved coaching staff?

Hard to say. This could well go either way. The Buffs, playing at home for the first time in three weeks, could come out with some energy, and, with some success, keep the Buffs in the game for longer than a quarter.

Or … the Buffs could suffer some early setbacks (say, an interception on the first possession, instead of a fumble?) … and fold.

We’ll know pretty early on Saturday which team has shown up.

 

P – Preparation/Schedule

Disgruntled CU fans are hoping that the Buff Nation will vote with its feet on Saturday, staying home so as to send a message to the CU administration that they have had enough of the Karl Dorrell era. Athletic director Rick George, for his part, tried to stave off the mass exodus with a statement which included:

“Regardless of your feelings right now on Colorado Football, I encourage you to continue to support our tremendous football student-athletes, who need your cheers, encouragement and support now, more than ever.”

It’s Parent’s Weekend, and many Buff fans, myself included, have already made arrangements to attend. That said, even a crowd in the 40,000 range would still be a disappointment for an athletic department which budgets 46,000-48,000 per game.

Either way, it will still be a big crowd for the Bruins, who have yet to see a crowd in excess of 35,000 this fall.

UCLA announced attendance for the first three games of the 2022 season … Bowling Green: 27, 143 (an all-time Rose Bowl low) … Alabama State: 33,272 … South Alabama: 29,344 … Average for three games: 29,919, or 33.7% of the Rose Bowl’s 88,565 capacity.

And this is the announced crowd. Some estimates had UCLA’s home opener against Bowling Green, with an 11:30 a.m. kickoff and 100-degree temperatures, in the 7,000-10,000 range.

The crowds, or lack thereof, prompted all-time UCLA great Troy Aikman to tweet out this past weekend: This is an embarrassment but we couldn’t fill the Rose Bowl in 1988 when we were the #1 team in the country. Anyone else at UCLA think it’s time for an on-campus 30,000 seat stadium? Of course, if we can’t play better than we did today, it would be half-empty too.

The “crowd” during pregame ceremonies for this past weekend’s game against South Alabama …

Troy Aikman UCLA

A loud home crowd for UCLA’s first road game of the season might give the Buffs something of an advantage.

But the Buff Nation might not show up.

Buff fans thinking that if they just stay away, they will force CU’s hand … should take a second look at the picture above, and ask themselves if non-attendance is something schools really care about these days.

Now, there is a real possibility that the Bruins will be looking past Colorado. Not just because CU is fielding the worst Power Five conference team in the nation, but because they have been sleep-walking through September.

No one expected a loss out of UCLA’s first three games, and the near miss against South Alabama (UCLA needed a last play field goal to defeat the Jaguars, 32-31) is now just another “W” no one is questioning.

What fans and the media will be questioning is whether UCLA can compete against quality Pac-12 competition. After playing the Buffs, the Bruins will face in succession, Washington, Utah, and Oregon, with the game against the Huskies at home next Friday night.

Little doubt that the Bruins will be uninspired to play their fourth straight double-digit underdog opponent. The question is whether CU, like South Alabama did last weekend, take advantage of the lethargy.

 

S – Statistics 

While UCLA’s statistics for the first three games of the season may be a bit skewed due to the level of competition, there is no hiding behind the fact that the Colorado football team is dead awful, both on offense and defense.

The Buffs are in the bottom five – out of 131 teams – in both total offense and total defense. Colorado has scored three touchdowns in three games, with two of those coming in the fourth quarter after the opposition had run up the score (31 straight points by TCU before the Buffs’ TD; 49 straight points by Minnesota).

You can make a few accommodations for the defense, what with the offense being so pathetic (the first half drive chart for CU against Minnesota: Fumble; punt; punt; punt; punt – with no “drive” taking off more than 2:17 of game clock).  In the first half, Minnesota’s offense was on the field for 22:23 of game clock; CU for 7:37. Still, the defense was its own worst enemy, never stopping the Golden Gophers when opportunities presented themselves.

Another way to look at how bad the CU offense is in 2022: If the Buffs were to score 66 points against UCLA on Saturday (not super likely, considering the Buffs have scored 30 points in three games), they still would be ranked in the 100s in scoring offense nationally.

Yes, Virginia, the Buffs are that bad.

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will play a role in deciding the game)Turnovers … The Buffs will need a minimum of four, with at least one returned for a touchdown. Oh, and throw in a punt return or kickoff return for a score as well. The CU offense ain’t getting to 30 points on its own … Third down conversions … CU’s offense was stymied against TCU, going only 6-of-15 on third down conversions. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, with the Buff offense going 1-for-11 on third downs against Air Force. Oh, and then it got even worse, with the Buffs going 1-for-12 on third downs against Minnesota (while the Golden Gophers went 13-for-15). ‘Nuff said.

 

Prediction … 

Colorado is a 21-point underdog to UCLA this weekend. Figuring the three-point home field advantage usually afforded by the betting sites, that would make it a 24-point spread on a neutral field, and a 27-point spread for a game played in Pasadena.

Or, to put it another way, the spread is about the same as it was for the Minnesota game last weekend.

The Buffs could come out and play well at home. They could score a meaningful touchdown in the first half. Hell, they might even keep from turning the ball over on their first possession.

I’m tempted here … not to pick the Buffs to win … but to cover the spread. With UCLA having a tough game next weekend against Washington, and with less time to prepare for a Friday night game, I can see Chip Kelly keeping it pretty vanilla against the Buffs, and not putting Dorian Thompson-Robinson in too many designed rushing plays. The Bruins will just want to run the clock, score on long possessions, and get out of Boulder with no injuries.

That scenario might just allow the Buffs to score enough garbage time points to stay within the three touchdown spread.

My concern is that the Colorado defense, which allowed Minnesota to convert 13-of-15 third downs last weekend, won’t be able to get off the field. I envision the Folsom Field crowd getting excited about the Buffs forcing a third-and-seven, only to watch DTR scramble for 15 yards and a first down.

Once again – until or unless the CU football team can give us reason to believe otherwise – you take the opposition and give the points.

Prediction … UCLA 38, Colorado 13

2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 2-1; Against the Spread: 2-1) … 

  • Prediction: Colorado 27, TCU 24 … Actual: TCU 38, Colorado 13
  • Prediction: Air Force 42, Colorado 17 … Actual: Air Force 41, Colorado 10
  • Prediction: Minnesota 49, Colorado 10 … Actual: Minnesota 49, Colorado 7

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24 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for Colorado v. UCLA”

  1. I said a few weeks ago that this team reminded me of the last Embree team. Correction – this team is worse. May not win a game this year, and the worst Power 5 team in the USA. Need more reasons to get rid of Dorrell and start over? I don’t.
    UCLA 45, (Puts Paper Sack on Head) CU Sad Sacks 3

    1. The problem with dorrell is that the team has slowly (or not so slowly) gotten worse in pretty much every aspect since he’s been here.

      1. Ding ding ding.

        He is relying on his youth movement, new scheme etc which makes me think he was told this is year zero. But, if it continues as it has, he isn’t helping his nor Rick and lance’s cause.

        Go Buffs

  2. From my side, 1980 (my senior year of undergrad). I remember asking myself: who in the world is Drake and how can we be losing to them?

    For this Saturday’s game: UCLA 45 CU 17

      1. Stuart, thanks. The CU program has been like the Himalayas a few times (great highs) and like the Marianas Trench (as low as it can go) a few times. The disturbing part is that it has been, with only a couple exceptions in 2016 and 2020, under water for the last 20 years. I will continue to don my scuba gear going forward but the air gauge is getting low. Will be in the stands on Saturday and hope that the coaching staff and team come out with some energy. Go Buffs!

  3. My vote is my freshman year of 1980. Praying for senility to set in, which shouldn’t be much longer now, and the collapse of the football program won’t be remembered

      1. Hallet Hall, I believe you, Brad and I were all victims of that era, which has seemed to be resurrecting itself again. I miss chanting Walter (our only highlight) and yelling “Go WAC off” to CSEwe when the game was resurrected.

  4. It’s a tough to be a Buff fan alright. Mighty Tough.
    1976 Boulder.

    I especially like the year
    1984
    George
    1-10
    Give an extension
    If you weren’t there you don’t know “the loyal Buff fans” were “howling like its 2022” Threatening never to attend a game again. not renewing season tickets, no more donations, gonna hike in the mountains Blah blah etc.
    No media like today. Met huddled in basements and churches.

    1-10
    Give an extension
    The mob was not running the Department.
    Trying like today But they were told to go away

    Fake mac wasn’t fired after 3 years but was at the end of 6

    Real mac wasn’t fired after 3 years

    flimflamman got what 5

    The team looks mighty bad
    no breaks in their favor
    amazing the turnovers on the first play or first series.

    Dagnab it get the right qb.
    that is the problem

    Going.

    Little lunch at the law school eh stu.??

    Go Buffs beat UCLA

    Note: again my issue here is time. Crowder didn’t listen to Earache thank God.

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