Buffaloes at a glance
Record in 2015: 4-9, 1-8 in Pac-12
Returning Statistical leaders (2015 statistics)
Passing – Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 214-for-344, 2,418 yards, 9 TD, 6 INT
Rushing – Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 140 carries, 653 yards, 6 TD.
Receiving – Shay Fields, Jr.: 42 catches for 598 yards, 4 TD
Tackles – Rick Gamboa, So.: 96 tackles (58 solo)
3 questions facing CU
1. Is quarterback Sefo Liufau really healthy and ready to go?
Yes, we know that Liufau, who injured his foot on Nov. 13, has come back strong this fall, going through all of August camp without any setbacks. All indications are that he’s playing well and throwing better than ever. Liufau has not taken a hit since the injury, though. There’s sure to be a measure of anxiety as the Buffs await that first hit and first sack, to see if he bounces up ready to go for the next play.
2. Can this team get off to a good start?
Two years in a row, the Buffs have had a lackluster performance in the season opener, resulting in a loss both times. Last year, the Buffs got behind 14-0 to the Rams before rallying to win. This time, they not only need a better start to the game, but a better start to the season. To reach their goals, the Buffs need a 1-0 start.
3. Can the defense put together a complete effort?
Last year, the Buffs had a really good pass defense, and had a tough time stopping the run. CSU’s strength on offense is running the ball. The Buffs need to lock down the Rams’ passing game and find a way to slow the running game.
Bottom line: There’s quite a bit on the line for the Buffs in this one. Win this one and it sets CU up for a solid start and gives them momentum going into the meat of their schedule in a couple of weeks. Lose this one and it could be a long year in Boulder.
Rams at a glance
Record in 2015: 7-6, 5-3 in Mountain West; lost Arizona Bowl to Nevada
Returning statistical leaders (2015 statistics)
Passing – Nick Stevens, Jr.: 211 of 347, 2,679 yards, 21 TD, 12 INT
Rushing – Dalyn Dawkins, Jr.: 170 carries, 867 yards, 2 TD
Receiving – Dawkins: 24 catches, 178 yards, 1 TD
Tackles – Kevin Davis, Sr.: 101 tackles (48 solo)
3 questions facing CSU
1. Can the Rams’ defense limit the CU offense?
Colorado is loaded with experienced veterans on offense. CSU counters with a lot of young, experienced players. The Rams’ ability to slow down the CU offense is critical if they are to win this game. There is talent on defense; it’s just untested.
2. Can CSU dominate on the ground once again?
Two years in a row, the Rams have controlled the line of scrimmage against CU. Once again, the Rams have a good, experienced group of offensive linemen (four starters are back) and it’s probably their biggest area of strength. If that group plays well again, CSU has the running backs to control the clock and find success on the ground.
3. How many quarterbacks will the Rams use?
Head coach Mike Bobo has refused to publicly name a starter, despite Stevens earning second-team All-Mountain West honors last year. Senior Faton Bauta and freshman Collin Hill have also competed during camp. While many expect Stevens to be the starter, playing Bauta and/or Hill could throw some wrinkles at CU.
Bottom line: This game doesn’t mean as much to CSU, in terms of needing to win it to achieve certain team goes. It does, however, mean a lot to the Rams. They always come to play hard and do all they can to knock off the Buffs. The Rams are good enough to walk out of the stadium with a win.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.