After winning the Pac-12 South, the Buffs are fighting for bowl eligibility, just like the Utes. The winner tonight will be bowl eligible, so both teams will have a lot to play for. One difference in this game tonight is the fact that CU had a BYE week before this game, so they should come in pretty rested. While the Utes are coming off of that emotional loss to Washington.
Colorado does have some fire power on offense, specifically with their running back Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay has 1402 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season, and is averaging 4.95 yards per carry. The Buffs go as far as Lindsay takes them. He is hard to bring down, and is a good receiver out of the backfield. Utah will need to have a good game plan to slow him down, unlike they did against Oregon and ASU. Steven Montez is their young QB, and he’s been solid this season. He’s put up 2780 yards with 18 touchdowns and 9 picks, and has completed 61% of his throws. His mobility makes him a problem too, especially in 3rd down situations, but if Utah can make him uncomfortable, he’ll make mistakes. Colorado has some good wide outs, which can pose a problem for Utah. Bryce Bobo (640 yards), Shay Fields (623 yards) and Devin Ross (508 yards) are all very good pass catchers. So Utah can’t really focus on one guy here, but the key will be when a play breaks down, not to let one of these guys get behind them. It will be another test for this young Utah secondary to hold these guys in check.
On defense is where CU has struggled a bit this season. They replaced a ton on defense from last year, especially in the secondary, not to mention they lost their DC to Oregon. The Buffs are giving up 446 yards per game, with almost 250 through the air and 200 on the ground. This is the type of defense that Tyler Huntley can shred, especially if he has Darren Carrington. The Buffs aren’t giving up a lot of points, however, with only 27.6 points per game given up. So Utah has to be good in the red zone, which they seem to be improving at as the season goes along.
Colorado has played a much easier schedule than Utah, in conference, by missing Oregon and Stanford, while playing Cal and Oregon State. CU hasn’t been as competitive against the likes of USC, Washington and Washington State, while Utah was right there (and maybe should haven beaten two of those teams). Utah has wins over UCLA and Arizona, where CU dropped those games. Of course, different teams at different times, but it’s interesting to look at.
It’s a big game for both teams, and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.