The Sefo Liufau that everybody saw powering his way through the Washington State defense last weekend was not the Liufau everybody saw two and three years ago.
During the 38-24 win against the Cougars, Liufau finished with running back-type numbers on the ground: 23 carries, 108 yards, three touchdowns.
"I don't think I ever imagined coming into college football and carrying the ball 20 times a game," said Liufau, who also threw for 345 yards against Washington State.
Liufau's transformation from a pocket passer to a dual-threat, power running quarterback has been one of the most remarkable stories of his career at Colorado.
The 6-foot-4 Liufau was listed at 215 pounds as a freshman and in his first two seasons, he broke a slew of passing records. Liufau's "running" came mostly on sacks and scrambles. His rushing stats through two seasons: 109 carries, 179 yards, 0 touchdowns. Of those 109 carries, 28 were sacks, meaning he really only ran the ball 81 times in two seasons.
Over the last two years, and particularly this year, Liufau's running ability has been critical to CU's offense. His rushing stats since the start of last year: 232 carries, 690 yards, 11 touchdowns. He's got 424 yards and six touchdowns this year.
"It's a new dimension that we've added to the offense," Liufau said. "It adds another thing the defense has to worry about. If that's what it takes to win, I'll do it. Our defense has played very well all season and it causes problems for them, as well (in practice), because there's so many options that we can do now and we can really stretch the defense and make them have to cover every inch of the field."
Since Kordell Stewart's final season in 1994, only one CU quarterback has had more rushing yards than Liufau has accumulated this season. Bernard Jackson had 677 yards on the ground in 2006.
Utes special teams
Utah has been one of the most consistent winners in the country for several years, and will head to a bowl game for the 10th time in coach Kyle Whittingham's 12 years as head coach.
One of the reasons for their success has been their special teams. The Utes have a decided advantage over CU when it comes to special teams. According to ESPN rankings, the Utes are 10th in the country in special teams efficiency.
"They do a good job," said MacIntyre, whose team ranks 105th in special teams efficiency. "Kyle does a good job with their special teams. They've always had those Australian rules punters. They rugby punt every time, which some people like and some people don't and they do a really good job of it. They've had a good kicker for a few years now. It's helped them do well."
The Ray Guy Award goes to the nation's top punter, and the Utes' Tom Hackett won the award the past two years. He's now gone, but his replacement, Mitch Wishnowsky, is one of three finalists for the award this year.
Place kicker Andy Phillips is a four-year starter and is 77-for-92 (83.7 percent) in his career on field goals and 172-of-173 on extra points. He is 14-for-17 this year on field goals.
• Last week, CU earned its 400th all-time in Boulder, improving to 400-191-16 at home. Utah has an almost identical all-time record at home, going 400-188-16 over the years.
• Utah quarterback Troy Williams has 11 completions of 40 yards or more this season, second only to Washington's Jake Browning in the Pac-12.
• CU receiver Devin Ross has not caught a touchdown pass in the last seven games, but he's hauled in at least three catches in the last six games. He had a career-high 121 yards on eight catches last week.
• The Buffs are looking for their first six-game winning streak since 1996.
• CU is also aiming for the seventh 10-win season in program history.
• Last week, the Buffs had over 200 yards in rushing and passing yards. It's the sixth time they've done that this season, going 6-0 in those games.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.