Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 7-2, 5-1 Pac-12
Passing — Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 110-of-165, 1,322 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT
Rushing — Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 143 carries, 818 yards, 10 TD
Receiving — Devin Ross, Jr.: 45 catches, 515 yards, 5 TD
Tackles — Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.: 93 tackles (61 solo)
3 questions facing CU
1. Can the Buffs regain their mojo on offense?
Early in the season, it was common for the Buffs to put two or three touchdowns on the board in a quarter, and they hit the 40-point mark with regularity. The past two weeks, however, the offense has managed a total of two touchdowns and 23 points. Big plays in the passing game are missing. Red zone issues have surfaced. Missed field goals haven’t helped either. Facing the struggling Wildcats could be what the Buffs need.
2. Will the Buffs have an eye on their future, or keep their focus on the Wildcats?
After this week, the Buffs have back-to-back home games against No. 23 Washington State and No. 13 Utah. Human nature is to look past the last-place Wildcats and toward the next two games. Keeping their focus on the task at hand is what got the Buffs to this point, though. They need to make sure they take care of business in Tucson before eying the critical stretch that’s to come.
3. How much success will the defense have against the run?
In a 38-31 loss to Arizona last year in Boulder, it was the Wildcats’ run game that made the difference, running for 291 yards against the Buffs. This season, the Wildcats are fifth in the Pac-12 with 210.0 yards per game on the ground, and quarterback Brandon Dawkins and running back Samajie Grant are both capable of hurting the Buffs. During the past three weeks, CU has been exceptional against the run — allowing just 56.0 yards per game and 1.8 yards per carry. Continuing that trend will be key for the Buffs.
Bottom line: This the easiest game left on the schedule for the Buffs, but they can’t take Arizona lightly. With eyes on a Pac-12 title, CU can’t afford to slip up against the worst team in the conference. It’s imperative that they take care of business early and get out of town with a victory before embarking on a difficult final few weeks.
Wildcats at a glance
Record: 2-7, 0-6 Pac-12
Passing — Brandon Dawkins, So.: 76-of-138, 1,068 yards, 6 TD, 5 INT
Rushing — Dawkins: 86 carries, 597 yards, 8 TD
Receiving — Shun Brown, So.: 25 catches, 406 yards, 3 TD
Tackles — Paul Magloire Jr., Sr.: 58 tackles (40 solo)
3 questions facing Arizona
1. What is the mental state of the players?
This is an Arizona team that isn’t used to losing. The Wildcats have been to a bowl game in each of the last four seasons and several players remain from the team that played in the Pac-12 title game just two years ago. This year, they are officially eliminated from bowl contention, and they’re coming off a 62-point loss to Washington State, the program’s widest margin of defeat since 1949. At this point, the Wildcats are playing for pride.
2. Can the Wildcats get effective play at quarterback?
There has been very little stability at the quarterback position this season, and coming into this week, it could be either Brandon Dawkins or Anu Solomon starting. Both have struggled this season, and Arizona ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency. The Wildcats need quality play from the quarterback in order to have a chance against CU’s stout defense.
3. Will the defense be able to stop the Buffs?
The past two weeks have been a struggle for the Colorado offense, but facing Arizona’s defense could be good for the Buffs. Arizona is allowing 37.1 points per game. The Pac-12’s worst offense (Stanford) scored 34 against the Wildcats. The Wildcats may not give up 69 points like they did a week ago, but they’ve got to find a way to hold the Buffs around 30.
Bottom line: Recent results don’t show it, but Arizona has enough talent to play with and beat Colorado. The question is whether the Wildcats can rise above their disappointment and put together a valiant performance. If nothing else, the Wildcats know they could knock Colorado out of the top spot in the Pac-12 South.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.