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Key matchups for Saturday’s game between the CU Buffs and Arizona State

Arizona State recveiver N'Keal Harry tries to make a catch over Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver during last season's game in Boulder.
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Arizona State recveiver N’Keal Harry tries to make a catch over Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver during last season’s game in Boulder.

CU front seven vs. ASU running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage

The Buffs had their best game of the season against the run last week, holding California to 61 yards on the ground. ASU has been one of the worst running teams in the country, but Richard and Ballage can bust loose at any time. CU can’t allow that duo to get going.

CU’s secondary vs. ASU receiver N’Keal Harry

If Isaiah Oliver plays, expect him to spend a lot of his night on Harry. No matter who covers him, however, the Buffs have to limit his effectiveness. Harry is second in the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game (89.1), but he hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last four games. CU will aim to keep that streak going.

CU quarterback Steven Montez vs. ASU’s defense

Montez was motivated to prove himself last week and he played very well. He was sharper than he had been all year and was smooth in running the offense. Now, he’s facing an ASU defense that’s been vulnerable most of the year. Montez needs to be crisp and play with the maturity and poise he displayed a week ago.

CU pass rushers vs. ASU offensive line

Getting pressure on the quarterback has been a struggle much of the year for CU, but it has started to turn the corner. The Buffs had two sacks against Washington State and then four against Cal. ASU has given up 3.88 sacks per game (third-worst in the country). A year ago, the Buffs battered ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins. While there are many different players on the defense, the Buffs need to make Wilkins uncomfortable.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or

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