Colorado at Utah
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rice-Ecceles Stadium, Salt Lake City
TV / radio: FS1 / 850 AM, 94.1 FM
Going into last week, the Colorado football team believed its bye was coming at a good time.
Now that the bye is over, the Buffaloes have no doubt it was timely.
“I think it was a huge benefit,” senior center Jonathan Huckins said. “We got a lot of practicing in. We got a lot of game planning, a lot of studying. We had a whole week that Utah didn’t have, which is huge. And, Utah had a late game away, coming back early (Sunday morning). That’s always a tough thing to do.”
On Saturday at 8 p.m., the Buffs (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) will visit the Utes (5-6, 2-6) in a game that is bowl-or-bust for both. The winner is bowl eligible, while the loser will end its season.
While CU had the weekend off, Utah lost a heartbreaker at Washington late Saturday night, 33-30.
The Buffs returned from the bye with their first evening practice of the season on Monday at Folsom Field, to help prepare for the later kickoff. Head coach Mike MacIntyre and several players felt a jolt of energy.
“This is probably the most charged Monday practice that we had all year long,” senior receiver Bryce Bobo said. “I felt like you could feel it while we were on the field that we have a goal in mind and this time we’re not allowing anything to really get in between that goal.”
Although the Buffs didn’t have a game last week, they had several practices and by all accounts, the focus in those sessions was sharp.
“I think that it kind of just got our minds to get off the loss (to Southern California on Nov. 11) and come back and know that we have a big game ahead of us,” Bobo said. “For the most part, I think that as a team we valued the time we were given (during the bye). We made the best of the time we had with our practices.”
The Buffs were hoping last week’s bye would help several players recover from injuries. Safety Ryan Moeller missed the Nov. 11 game against USC with a leg injury, receiver Shay Fields left that game early with concussion symptoms and cornerback Isaiah Oliver re-aggravated a leg injury that day.
Other players used the time to recover from bumps and bruises gained through 11 consecutive weeks of games.
MacIntyre didn’t mention specific players, but said, “We got some guys back, some of them are looking better. We still don’t have everybody cleared yet, but everybody is making good progress, so that’s really good.”
Senior defensive lineman Leo Jackson was thankful for the bye and felt recharged Monday.
“Your body gets worn down with the practices and the quick turnarounds,” he said. “We definitely needed this week at this perfect time, at the end of the season when it’s crunch time.”
Lindsay, Stefanou fall short
CU running back Phillip Lindsay and place kicker James Stefanou were both semifinalists for major college football awards, but both missed the cut when the finalists were unveiled Monday.
Lindsay was one of 11 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation’s top running back, but was not among the three finalists. The finalists are: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Stanford’s Bryce Love and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.
Earlier this month, Stefanou was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the top kicker. The finalists are: Auburn’s Daniel Carlson, Utah State’s Dominik Eberle and Utah’s Matt Gay.
On Monday, the Pac-12 named its players of the week: Washington quarterback Jake Browning (offense), Oregon linebacker Troy Dye (defense) and USC returner Michael Pittman Jr. (special teams).
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33