CU vs. Arizona State: “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs’ Last Best Chance at a Victory

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU vs. Arizona State/CU’s Last Best Chance at a Victory in 2022?, 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 at the CU at the Game website.

As Yogi Berra might have put it … Against Oregon State, it was deja vu all over again.

A week after pulling out a 20-13 overtime victory over Cal with a combination of good defense, timely offense, and a healthy spoonful of luck, the Buffs reverted to their Karl Dorrell style of play last Saturday, falling to Oregon State, 42-9.

It wasn’t completely out of hand at halftime, with the Buffs down 21-3 (unless you consider that CU has yet to score over 20 points in a game all season, in which case yes, it was already out of hand), but the after the Buffs gave up 14 points in the first four minutes of the second half, the final 25 minutes or so of the Oregon State game were just a glorified scrimmage.

Still, the Buffs were 23.5-point underdogs to Oregon State, and the game was on the road. Now the Buffs are back at home, and are 13.5-point underdogs to Arizona State.

When the Buffs played Cal at home two weekends ago, they were 14.0-point underdogs, but came away with a victory.

With games against Oregon, USC, Washington and Utah left to play, the game against the Sun Devils represents the last time in 2022 in which the Buffs will be less than 20-point underdogs.

Can the Buffs pull it together at their last best chance at Victory No. 2?

Let’s find out …


This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU vs. Arizona State – Saturday, 5:30 p.m., MT, ESPNU

T – Talent

Quick quiz: Who is the FBS active career leader in rushing yards, and where does he play?

You could have given me fifteen guesses or even a multiple choice list, and I still wouldn’t have got this one right.

The correct answer is Xazavian Valladay, and he plays for Arizona State. Valladay is closing in on 4,000 career rushing yards, with 3,847 yards after his 76 yards and a touchdown against Stanford last weekend.

The reason we haven’t heard about Valladay before is that he accumulated 3,205 of his 3,847 rushing yards toiling away for Wyoming. Valladay played four seasons for the Cowboys, including two 1,000-yard campaigns. With 642 yards and seven touchdowns through seven games, Valladay is well on his way to the third 1,000-yard season of his career.

Valladay has been a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre Arizona State offense, which is averaging just over 350 yards per game (99th nationally. Colorado is, of course, well below even that mark – 286 yards/game, ranked 124th).

Quarterback Emory Jones, himself a transfer from Florida, has thrown for 1,347 yards, with just five touchdowns and four interceptions. In ASU’s 15-14 loss to Stanford, Jones completed 14-of-25 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. Jones’ efforts, though, have been inconsistent enough to warrant a potential change at quarterback.

“There was some good things that (Jones) did,” ASU interim head coach Shaun Aguano said in a press conference with Sun Devils media on Monday. “There was some decision making that was questionable, I thought. There was inconsistency I thought in the second half a little bit. Overall I thought he did OK. Going forward … it’s an open competition – a true open competition for both of those guys. I’m going to pick the best guy that will go get us that win (at Colorado).

“There is no true starter right now.”

Trenton Bourguet, a Tucson, Ariz., native and former walk-on, has appeared in only six games during his four seasons at ASU, all in a reserve role. His one appearance this year was remarkable, however. On Oct. 8, against then-No. 21 Washington, Jones was injured in the second quarter and Bourguet went into the game. He completed 15-of-21 passes for 182 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in leading the Sun Devils to the 45-38 victory.

Jones’ main target has been sophomore wide receiver Elijah Badger, who has 37 receptions for 490 yards and four touchdowns. Against the Cardinal, Badger had his first 100-yard game of the season, collecting six passes for 118 yards and a 39-yard score.

The Arizona State defense hasn’t been dominant, either, with the Sun Devils 96th in the nation in total defense (giving up 407 yards/game), and is 79th in scoring defense, giving up 28.0 points per game.

That said, the ASU defense did keep the Stanford offense out of the end zone, surrendering five field goals in the 15-14 final.

So … Arizona State is not particularly dominant on offense – though there is a proven 1,000-yard rusher the Buffs will have to account for – and is not particularly dominant on defense.

Pretty much what you would expect from a 2-5 team.


I – Intangibles

The ASU trip to Boulder was supposed to be the third game on the Arizona State resurgence tour. After upsetting No 21 Washington at home, the Sun Devils had a bye week before taking to the road against lowly Stanford and Colorado. Wins over the Cardinal and the Buffs would have left Arizona State with a 4-4 record, and a legitimate shot at a 6-6 record and a bowl bid.

Now, those dreams have been scuttled … and by the slimmest of margins. Not only was the final score against Stanford 15-14, but the Sun Devils were literally a few inches from victory.

On fourth-and-19 at the Stanford 43-yard line with 16 seconds to play, it was all-or-nothing for the Sun Devils. Quarterback Emory Jones threw the ball deep, with Elijah Badger collecting the ball at the Stanford one yard line. A chip shot field goal with seconds remaining was in the offing, giving ASU the win.

But … upon further review … Badger’s foot was just inches out of bounds. Incomplete pass. Turnover on downs. Game over.

For a team looking to kick start the second half of its season with a victory, it had to be a tough loss for the Sun Devil players.

Will there be a carry over?

Perhaps …

Meanwhile, in Boulder …

Has the Mike Sanford era of Good Feelings come to a close after only two weeks?

The Buffs seemed to revert to the form they demonstrated during the first five weeks of the season, with the Oregon State game out of hand a few minutes into the third quarter.

Still, the defense did play well at times, but few defenses can survive giving up four turnovers (including a pick six), and were overwhelmed as the game went on.

For now, the Buffs and their interim head coach Mike Sanford are saying the right things: “Guys were fighting and continuing to find some fun in the game of football, even in the fourth quarter and in the huddle offensively as we moved the ball”, Sanford said. “I was really proud of how the offense continued to respond. We’ve just got to take care of the football. Obviously the outcome and the score of the game would be drastically different.”

Does moving the ball against backups constitute progress? Is it really fun to have to keep playing while the other team is relaxing, knowing that the game is already won?

Do the Buffs still have any fight left in them? Or will Saturday night just be another embarrassing defeat in a long string of embarrassing defeats?

Guess we’ll find out Saturday night …


P – Preparation/Schedule

The 2-5 Sun Devils, are, of course, a team like Colorado in that they are in search of a new head coach.

Herm Edwards was fired in the wake of ASU’s 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan back in September. The Sun Devils were 1-2 at the time, and have gone 1-3 since. While that may sound like an opportunity for the Buffs, the 1-3 record isn’t as bad as CU’s 1-3 record over the past four games.

Arizona State lost soundly to both Utah (34-13) and to USC (42-25), but were surprisingly competitive against the Trojans (21-17 at the half), and the one win for the Sun Devils came against then No. 21 Washington, 45-38.

The upset of the Huskies should have given the 2-4 Sun Devils some hope for the second half of the season. They still had Stanford, Colorado and Arizona on the schedule, with chances to pick up a sixth win over UCLA or Oregon State at home, or at Washington State on the road.

After a bye week to prepare, though, the Sun Devils fell against Stanford. The 15-14 loss left ASU with a 2-5 record, and the need to go 4-1 the rest of the season in order to qualify for a bowl under interim head coach Shaun Aguano.

Oh, and this is ASU’s second game in a row on the road.

That seems to be a tall order, and the close loss to the Cardinal may have an adverse affect on the roster, which may be looking more for what the new head coach may offer for 2023 than what the team can still accomplish in 2022.

Meanwhile, in Boulder …

The November-we-won’t-want-to-remember is coming up from behind, and is getting bigger and bigger in the rear view mirror. The November schedule includes three games against programs currently ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation, with the fourth game, a road tilt against Washington, another potential rout in the making.

No reason to sugar-coat it. CU was a 23-point underdog to a decent Oregon State team. Want to hazard a guess what the lines will be like the next two weeks against Oregon and USC?

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck, and oh, by the way. Yuck.

Not that the Buffs can or should look past any opponent, but faced with the realities of potential November blowouts, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine CU coaches and players throwing everything they’ve got into defeating the Sun Devils.

It’s all in against the Sun Devils, because for the Buffs, there literally is no tomorrow.


S – Statistics 

Ugh … Do we have to?

You just have to laugh … to keep from crying.

The major stats, this far into the season, are getting into “all-time low” range …

  • Offense … Rushing (113th nationally) … Passing (114th) … Total yards (124th) … Scoring (129th);
  • Defense … Rushing (130th) … Passing (55th) … Total yards (125th) … Scoring (129th).

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will play a role in deciding the game)

  • Names on the stats line … When you are getting to the final game in October, you should have – barring injury – settled on your quarterback. CU has tried three different starting quarterbacks, and Buff fans might not know until Saturday whether Owen McCown or J.T. Shrout will start. Meanwhile, Sun Devil fans this week get to debate whether Emory Jones should continue to be the starter, of if Trenton Bourguet should get the nod.
  • Turnovers  … A team which is struggling as much as Colorado cannot afford any turnovers, much less four. In addition to a pick six, the Buffs had two turnovers in the red zone against Oregon State. That’s a potential swing of 21 points – not enough to change the outcome, but certainly enough to give the Buffs a fighting chance in the second half. Colorado is tied for 113th nationally, with 15 turnovers lost. If you look at the CU stats sheet on Sunday morning, and see that the Buffs had four turnovers against Arizona State, you won’t have to bother looking for the final score.

On the bright side … Arizona State’s defense isn’t as bad as CU’s … but it’s close. The defensive line is rarely a factor, which is tied for 120th in sacks per game (with 1.14) and 130th in team tackles for loss per game (3.4). The Sun Devils are also 126th in third-down conversion defense this season, allowing opponents to successfully convert on third down on 48% of their attempts. Finally, ASU is 117th in red zone defense this season, giving up points on 90.6% of opponents’ trips inside the 20. Of those 32 red-zone appearances, 20 ended with a touchdown. If the Buff offense is ever going to get on track this season, this is the chance to do so.


Prediction … 

Colorado is an 13.5-point underdog to Arizona State … up from 11.0-points on Sunday.

Not a good sign.

The Buff offense has yet to get past the 20-point mark all season, and we’re getting close to the time where we have to start looking at historically low statistical numbers. Colorado is currently averaging 13.7 points per game. If that number stands, it will be the lowest average for the program in over 40 years (12.8 points per game in 1981, the final year of the Chuck Fairbanks era).

The quarterback situation is unresolved (Owen McCown not a full go for practices as of Tuesday), the running backs are a M*A*S*H unit (though Deion Smith is back to full practices this week), and the wide receiver corps has a collective case of the drops.

The Arizona State defense is far from daunting, coming to Boulder giving up an average of 28.0 points per game. If the Buff offense were just “average” against the Sun Devils, it would be a high water mark for CU this season.

I’ll give it one more week before I throw in the towel completely on the Buffs. I have real hope for an upset, but not enough confidence to predict a victory.

Take the points and go with CU … it may the last time this year it’s a realistic possibility.

Prediction … Arizona State 27, Colorado 17

2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 5-2; Against the Spread: 5-2) … 

  • 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
  • Prediction: UCLA 38, Colorado 13 … Actual: UCLA 45, Colorado 17
  • Prediction: Arizona 33, Colorado 14 … Actual: Arizona 43, Colorado 20
  • Prediction: California 33, Colorado 21 … Actual: Colorado 20, California 13, OT
  • Prediction: Oregon State 30, Colorado 13 … Actual: Oregon State 42, Colorado 9


5 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Arizona State”

  1. My past predictions were reasonable. This one is wishful thinking before a November of blowouts (when I won’t make predictions).

    CU 21 ASU 20

  2. ASU 27 CU 13
    The Buffs get their one touchdown, Cole Becker connects on two bombs, Lincoln Riley takes note, and Becker is offered a sweet NIL deal to complete his final years of eligibility with the Trojans. Yes, Becker takes the deal. Wee, college football is fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *