Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 5-2, 3-1 Pac-12
Passing — Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 79-of-110, 1,044 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT
Rushing — Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 107 carries, 614 yards, 9 TD
Receiving — Devin Ross, Jr.: 38 catches, 458 yards, 5 TD
Tackles — Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.: 68 tackles (48 solo)
3 questions facing CU
1. How will the Buffs match up physically with the Cardinal?
These teams have met three times since Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011, and Stanford has dominated the line of scrimmage every time. Last week, however, the Buffs were as physical up front as they’ve ever been during the past six years. Stanford, meanwhile, has been less productive up front than in the past. Winning the trenches will be crucial for the Buffs.
2. What can Phillip Lindsay do for an encore?
Last week, the junior ran for a career-high 219 yards and three touchdowns. He doesn’t need to be that good in this game, but Lindsay and the Buffs need to have success running the ball. Lindsay is the leader of the backfield and he’s got to keep the chains moving.
3. Can the defense keep the Stanford offensive woes going?
CU has one of the best defensive units in the Pac-12, while Stanford is last in the conference in scoring and total yards. Stanford has yet to reach 28 points in a game this season, and has just 39 points in the last three weeks combined. If the Cardinal can’t find success against the Buffs, CU has a great shot to come away with a victory.
Bottom line: For the first time since joining the Pac-12, Colorado has the ability to play with and beat the Cardinal. Winning this game would likely vault the Buffs back into the Top 25 and make them the favorite to win the Pac-12 South. Since this is a non-division game, though, CU’s goal of a South division title would remain intact even with a loss.
Cardinal at a glance
Record: 4-2, 2-2 Pac-12
Passing — Ryan Burns, Sr.: 79-of-123, 888 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT
Rushing — Christian McCaffrey, Jr.: 99 carries, 520 yards, 3 TD
Receiving — Trenton Irwin, So.: 19 catches, 234 yards, 0 TD
Tackles — Solomon Thomas, Jr.: 30 tackles (22 solo)
3 questions facing Stanford
1. Will Christian McCaffrey play?
The 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up missed last week’s win at Notre Dame because of an injury, but it appears he’s on track to return against the Buffs. Even with McCaffrey, the offense has sputtered, but having him on the field gives Stanford a much better chance at victory because of how dangerous he is with the ball in his hands.
2. Can the Cardinal get their offense clicking?
Moving the ball and scoring points has been struggle all season for Stanford. The Cardinal have struggled to replace the linemen they lost to graduation, as well as quarterback Kevin Hogan, who is now with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Four times, they’ve been held under 300 yards and the offense has a total of four touchdowns in the last four games combined.
3. Can the defense do enough to keep Stanford in the game?
While the offense has struggled, the Stanford defense has been solid most of the season, especially against the run. The defense, in fact, has been almost as likely to score as the offense, with three touchdowns in the last four games. The defense will need to keep this game a low-scoring affair.
Bottom line: This is still a talented Stanford team and the game is more important for the Cardinal, because of where they sit in the standings. They probably can’t catch Washington in the North, but the opportunity is there to get on a roll, finish strong and get into the running for a spot in the Rose Bowl. They have to win this one, though, to have a shot.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.