Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 4-8 (1-7 Pac-12); lost at Washington State, 27-3, last week.
Passing — Cade Apsay, Fr.: 51 of 74, 437 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT (Leading passer Sefo Liufau is out for the season with an injury).
Rushing — Phillip Lindsay, So.: 131 rushes, 605 yards, 6 TD.
Receiving — Nelson Spruce, Sr.: 84 catches, 942 yards, 3 TD.
Tackles — Rick Gamboa, Fr.: 85 tackles (52 solo).
3 questions facing CU
1. Will the Buffs show up ready to play?
Last week, the Buffs laid an egg in Pullman, Wash., and it was probably the only time this season that they didn't appear too interested in playing. Afterward, players talked about the lack of fight in the team. CU's primary goal — a bowl game — is no longer possible and it will be interesting to see how engaged the Buffs are in this game. If they play like they did in Pullman, they'll get blown out.
2. Can the offense give the Buffs a chance to win?
In several of CU's games this season, including last week against Washington State, the offense has had chances to succeed and came up short. The Buffs are last in the Pac-12 in red zone offense (scoring just 72.5 percent of the time), 10th in third-down conversion rate (36.5 percent), ninth in penalties (57.8 yards per game) and lead the league in missed field goals (10). That has all added up to a lot of potential wins becoming losses.
3. How will the Buffs stack up in special teams?
Utah might have the best special teams unit in the country, with weapons at punter, kicker and in the return game. CU has to prevent the Utes from burning them in this phase of the game. On the flip side, the Buffs have struggled on special teams of late, especially with missed field goals. A solid game on special teams could be crucial against Utah.
Bottom line: With the exception of pride and the potential to send the seniors out with a win, the Buffs aren't playing for anything this week. Still, the Buffs have managed to play well against Utah every year. While there is nothing on the line for the Buffs, the program could use the shot in the arm that this win would provide. It would send CU into the offseason with some positive momentum after a disappointing season.
Utes at a glance
Record: 8-3 (5-3 Pac-12); lost to UCLA, 17-3, last week.
Passing — Travis Wilson, Sr.: 176 of 272, 1,916 yards, 12 TD, 9 INT.
Rushing — Wilson: 113 rushes, 434 yards, 6 TD (Leading rusher Devontae Booker is out for the season with an injury).
Receiving — Kenneth Scott, Sr.: 35 catches, 417 yards, 3 TD (Leading receiver Britain Covey is expected to miss this game with an injury).
Tackles - Gionni Paul, Sr.: 96 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 INT.
3 questions facing Utah
1. What is the mindset of the Utes?
Just a few weeks ago, Utah was ranked No. 3 in the country and discussed as a national championship contender. Now, riding a two-game losing streak, the Utes have coughed up a chance at not only a national title but also a conference title. They're still going bowling, but with their main goals no longer out there, how motivated will this team be in the regular-season finale?
2. Can Utah get its offense going?
Booker was one of the nation's best running backs, and Covey is an underrated receiver. Without them, the Utes struggled to the move the ball against UCLA last week and couldn't find the end zone. Utah likes the potential of junior Joe Williams at tailback and will need him to do his best Booker impression. They're also going to need Wilson to step up and take charge offensively.
3. Will the defense make life miserable for CU quarterback Cade Apsay?
Apsay, a redshirt freshman, is making his second career start, and this is a tough defense to contend with. Utah leads the conference in holding quarterbacks to 55.7 completion percentage, and the Utes are tops in the Pac-12 with 16 interceptions. Utah also ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 27 sacks. Utah's ability to wreak havoc on Apsay will give the Utes a great chance to win.
Bottom line: Utah is a good team, but it's not as good as it was a month ago. Several injuries, especially to Booker, have hurt this team. The Utes are more vulnerable than they were in September and October. That said, they've got a chance to send their seniors out with a win. And if the Utes win this one and a bowl game, they'll post their fourth 10-win season under Whittingham. If the Utes play inspired they should walk off their home turf with a victory.
-- Brian Howell