Buffaloes at a glance

Record: 9-2, 7-1 Pac-12

Statistical leaders

Passing — Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 156-of-233, 1,880 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT

Rushing — Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 199 carries, 1,081 yards, 15 TD

Receiving — Devin Ross, Jr.: 56 catches, 664 yards, 5 TD

Tackles — Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.: 111 tackles (77 solo), 6 TFL

3 questions facing CU

1. Can the Buffs close the deal on the Pac-12 South?

All year, the Buffs have had their sights set on winning the South division and getting to the Pac-12 title game. Now, they're one win away. With their goal there for the taking, the Buffs need to find the focus they've had all year and play good, sound, mistake-free football.

2. How well will the offensive line play against Utah's defensive front?

This may be the toughest challenge yet for the CU offensive line. Utah leads the Pac-12 with 38 sacks and ranks third in rushing defense, allowing just 131.6 yards per game. CU's offensive line needs to play well, protect quarterback Sefo Liufau, and open holes in the run game.

3. Does the defense have the ability to stop Joe Williams?

The Utah running back has been a beast since returning from retirement, piling up 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns in the last five games. He has at least 149 yards in each of those games. The Buffs have been very good against the run, however. They've allowed just 3.9 yards per carry, and yielded only 10 rushing touchdowns (best in the Pac-12). Only two players have topped the 100-yard mark against CU, and nobody has more than 120.


Bottom line: CU's season has really come down to this game. The Buffs need to win this game to have a shot at their dream of being Pac-12 champions and playing in the Rose Bowl - or maybe even in the College Football Playoff. Lose this, and the Buffs are likely looking at the Holiday or Foster Farms bowls, which isn't bad at all, but not what they want.

Utes at a glance

Record: 8-3, 5-3 Pac-12

Statistical leaders

Passing — Troy Williams, Jr.: 183-of-327, 2,419 yards, 14 TD, 5 INT

Rushing — Joe Williams, Sr.: 158 carries, 1,088 yards, 9 TD

Receiving — Tim Patrick, Sr.: 38 catches, 606 yards, 5 TD

Tackles — Chase Hansen, So.: 73 tackles (40 solo)

3 questions facing Utah

1. What is the mindset of this team?

A week ago, the Utes thought they'd come into Boulder with a shot at the Pac-12 South title. Then, they got upset at home by a 3-7 Oregon team. Locked in to third place in the South, will the Utes show up with motivation to play well? Or will they come out flat, knowing they don't have as much to play for this week?

2. Can Troy Williams beat the Buffs with his arm?

All season, Williams has been inconsistent as a passer. He has come up with big plays, however. Finding success against CU's highly-rated pass defense won't be easy, but Williams will have to make plays through the air to take some pressure off of running back Joe Williams.

3. Will the defense be able to force the Buffs into costly turnovers?

Utah's defense has produced 26 takeaways this season; nationally, only rival BYU has generated more, with 27. The Utes have been especially good at getting interceptions, racking up 17 on the season. If the Utes can get a turnover or two, and convert them into points, they'll stay in the game.

Bottom line: While Utah can't win the Pac-12 South, the opportunity to play spoiler and finish the season on a strong note is still there. Utah should come into Boulder motivated to get into a better bowl game. In fact, if enough things fall into place, the Utes could be in line to reach the Rose Bowl.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.