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Friday Fast Facts – Arizona Week

… Your weekly “T.I.P.S”, previews for this weekend’s games, discussing Talent, Intangibles, Preparation and Statistics, have been posted. The written preview and predictions for the CU/Arizona game can be found here, while the CU at the Game Podcast preview for the game can be found at most of the popular podcast sites, and can also be listened to here …

 

Big Picture … 

“Born to Lead: The Sal Aunese Story” now available to stream … The award-winning documentary, “Born to Lead: The Sal Aunese Story” is now available to stream, and can be found here. If you haven’t seen the film, or haven’t seen it in awhile, here’s your chance … Well worth you time!;

Thank you for your Support … Colorado has sold out all of its home games for the first time in school history, and the fans have been rewarded … with a three-game home losing streak. If the Buffs lose the home finale against Arizona, it will be CU’s first four-game home losing streak since 2015. Even in last season’s 1-11 campaign, the Buffs only lost three straight home games. The 2018 team also lost three straight at home, but to find a CU team which lost four straight at home, you have to go back to the 2015 team, which started 3-1 … but finished the season losing eight of nine;

No wonder Grinch was fired … USC fired its defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch, this past week, and the stats explain why. USC is last in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, total defense, and scoring defense. Buff fans, meanwhile, are celebrating the improved play of the CU defense in recent weeks … but .. the Buffs still have a ways to go. CU remains 11th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, passing defense, and total defense;

— The ESPN Power Index gives the Wildcats a 70.3% chance of winning; the Buffs a 29.7% chance. Last weekend, Oregon State was given an 80.2% chance of beating the Buffs;

— The CU/Arizona game will be telecast nationally on the Pac-12 Networks (Saturday, 12:00 p.m., MT) with Ted Robinson on the play-by-play and Yogi Roth with the commentary.

 

Statistically speaking … 

If the Buffs can just get there … Colorado is third in the nation in red zone offense, with 30 scores in 31 attempts. The Buffs have actually been pretty good at getting into the end zone once inside the 20, with 22 touchdowns and eight field goals. The one time CU was inside the 20 and didn’t score? A pretty big miss … Shedeur Sanders throwing an interception in the end zone in the second overtime against Stanford;

How bad is the CU rushing offense? … The Buffs are the second-worst rushing team in the country, at 69.1 yards per game. Only Hawaii (65.0) is worse … In terms of yards per carry, CU is last in the country, at 2.51. Hawaii is just ahead of the Buffs, at 2.30 … In the record book, the Buffs have had just one season worse than this one in terms of average rushing yards per game: 59.7 in 1984 (a very tough 1-10 season);

How bad is the CU defense? … Most yards allowed per game in Colorado history …

  • 509.8 – 2022 … a 1-11 team, considered by many Buff fans as the worst CU team ever;
  • 488.5 – 2012 … a 1-11 team, the worst team ever … before 2022;
  • 469.0 – 2023 … (through 9 games) … 129th in the nation;
  • 464.4 – 1980 … a 1-10 which lost to Drake, and was run over by Oklahoma, 82-42, with the Sooners going for an NCAA record 758 yards rushing;

Who will lead the team in tackles? … Current leaders:

  • Trevor Woods … 52 tackles, 38 unassisted …
  • Shilo Sanders … 49 tackles, 41 unassisted …
  • LaVonta Bentley … 47 tackles, 29 unassisted …
  • Rodrick Ward … 42 tackles, 31 unassisted …
  • Jordan Domineck … 38 tackles, 29 unassisted …
  • Omarion Cooper … 37 tackles, 32 unassisted …

Sack attack … The CU defense has posted 23 sacks in the first nine games of the season, a significant step up from the nine total sacks posted by the 1-11 Buffs last season. But … the CU offense has suffered twice as many sacks, giving up 46 so far this season … 129th in the nation.

 

CU Player Notes … 

— Shedeur Sanders records watch … Shedeur Sanders is on pace to reset most of the single season passing in CU history. Here is an update on how Shedeur’s numbers are stacking up against every other quarterback to ever wear the black-and-gold …

  • Passing yards: 2,882 … CU single season record: 3,200 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total is currently 5th on the list – after nine games)
  • Passing touchdowns: 24 … CU single season record: 28 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total currently second)
  • Passing attempts: 385 … CU single season record: 498 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total currently 7th)
  • Completions: 270 … CU single season record: 325 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total currently 4th)
  • Completion percentage: 70.1 … CU single season record: 68.4 … Koy Detmer, 1995 … If maintained, Sanders will set a new school record
  • Total offense (plays): 478 … CU single season record: 567 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total is currently 5th)
  • Total offense (yards): 2,802 … CU single season record: 3,336 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total is currently 7th)

Kickers pulling their weight … Kicker Alejandro Mata has made 8-of-9 of his field goal attempts, while kickers for CU’s opponents have been successful on only 5-of-12 attempts. Meanwhile, CU punter Mark Vassett is averaging 44.3 yards/punt, with 16 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, while opposing punters are averaging 42.9 yards/punt, with 12 punts inside the 20;

Watch lists … Buffs have been noticed … Travis Hunter, Shedeur Sanders, Xavier Weaver, Michael Harrison and Mark Vassett have all earned mention on midseason watch lists or specialty teams.

 

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: .400, 12-18)

Otherwise …

— CU has a sizable lead in all-time wins, with 723 (29th all-time), while Arizona is at 629 (59th all-time);

— CU has a similar lead in time spent in the Associated Press poll, with 308 weeks (29th), compared to Arizona’s 170 weeks (56th);

— When it comes to producing NFL talent, the Buffs are also comfortably ahead of the Wildcats. CU has had 276 NFL picks (27th) and 24 first round picks (29th), compared to Arizona’s 184 (50th) and 10 (56th);

— Perhaps the widest gap is in conference championships. Colorado has 26 in its history (12th nationally), while Arizona has six titles in its 119-year history (89th nationally).

 

CU & Arizona … 

— Colorado holds a 16-9 advantage in the all-time series against Arizona … but … the Wildcats hold an 8-4 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 4-7 against Utah since the Utes joined the conference);

— Colorado won the first 12 games of the series, one of the longest runs for the Buffs against any opponent. The first game was a 27-7 win in Tucson in 1931. The teams then played ten games in 11 years between 1949 and 1960, with the Buffs winning them all. The teams split a pair in 1984-85 before not playing until the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011;

— Maybe 14 would be enough … In the 25-game series against Arizona, the Buffs have been held to 14 points only twice … but won both games (14-0 in 1955; 14-13 in 1985);

— In an otherwise forgettable (and regrettable) game against Arizona in 2017 … Kahlil Tate introduced himself to the Buff Nation with 327 rushing yards in a 45-42 Wildcat victory. In a losing effort, Phillip Lindsay had 281 rushing yards. The 608 combined rushing yards remains an NCAA record for two players in a single game.

 

Last time in Boulder …

October 16, 2021 … Colorado 34, Arizona 0 … 

— Game Story … The Buffs broke open a close game in the third quarter, with a blocked punt for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown turning a 6-0 game into a 20-0 advantage, with the Buffs coasting thereafter to a 34-0 win over Arizona. In snapping a four-game losing streak, the Buffs had 365 yards of total offense, with quarterback Brendon Lewis posting his first career 200-yard passing game, going 12-for-19 for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Brenden Rice had his first career 100-yard receiving game, with 111 yards on only three catches, including a 62-yard score in the third quarter.

The Colorado defense posted a shutout, its first since a 48-0 win over Nicholls State in in 2015. The loss was the 18th straight for Arizona, dating back to a win over the Buffs in Boulder in October, 2019. “As soon as the offense scored in the first quarter we said if they don’t score again they don’t win,” Carson Wells, who had a 50-yard interception for a touchdown, said. “So that was our philosophy for the whole game.”

“That was a really good win for us as a program,” head coach Karl Dorrell, who leveled his overall record at CU at 6-6, said. “All three phases scored touchdowns … We had two weeks of really doing some things in detail. I just felt like the dam was going to break at some point and it did today.”

… Read full game story here …

My Essay for the 2021 Arizona game, “Battle for the Basement“, can be found here …

 

Pac-12 Notes … 

Leader of the Pac … The Buffs will play in front of a sold out crowd for the tenth time in ten games against Arizona. CU is one of five teams  nationally – and the only one in the Pac-12 – to play in front of a sellout in every game so far this season, joining Georgia, Iowa, Notre Dame and Tennessee;

Pac-12 Lines … From DraftKings

  • No. 23 Arizona at Colorado … Noon, MT, Pac-12 Networks … Arizona is a 10.5-point road favorite … up from 9.5-points on Sunday …
  • No. 13 Utah at No. 5 Washington … 1:30 p.m., MT, Fox … Washington is a 9.5-point home favorite … same as Sunday …
  • Washington State at California … 2:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2 … California is a 1.5-point home favorite … same as Sunday …
  • Stanford at No. 12 Oregon State … 3:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Oregon State is a 21.0-point home favorite … up from 20.0-points on Sunday …
  • Arizona State at UCLA … 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … UCLA is a 18.0-point home favorite … up from 16.0-points on Sunday …
  • USC at No. 6 Oregon … 8:30 p.m., MT, Fox … Oregon is a 15.0-point home favorite … up from 14.5-points on Sunday …

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