TEMPE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Brendon Lewis #12 of the Colorado Buffaloes drops back to pass during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Brendon Lewis #12 of the Colorado Buffaloes drops back to pass during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Buffaloes scouting report

Head coach: Karl Dorrell, 2nd season (5-6; 40-33 career)

2021 Record: 1-4, 0-2 Pac-12

Last week: Bye; Lost to USC, 37-14, at home on Oct. 2.

5 Players to Watch

  • CB Mekhi Blackmon: A confident cover corner, he needs to be solid as usual, but the Buffs could also use his ball-hawking skills. He has CU’s only two interceptions in the past seven games and the Buffs could use some more.
  • RB Jarek Broussard: Last year, he ran for a career-high 301 yards against Arizona. He is arguably the Buffs’ best weapon on offense, but he’s averaging only 12.8 touches per game this season. The Buffs have to take advantage of his skills and get him going.
  • Tackles Frank Fillip and Jake Wiley: CU has given up 15 sacks this season. That’s not all on the tackles, but they are the guys responsible for protecting the edge. They need a solid game to help keep Arizona off the QB.
  • DE Terrance Lang: Facing a young QB, the Buffs want to get pressure on him and Lang will play a big role in that.
  • QB Brendon Lewis: It’s no secret that Lewis has struggled this year. Did a bye week help him? CU  needs the young QB to show some dramatic improvement at some point.

CU offense: During the past four games, it’s been tough to watch, as the Buffs have managed just 34 points (8.5 per game). CU has a talented group of running backs, led by Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot, but without much threat of a passing game, they haven’t been as effective as they could be.  Head coach Karl Dorrell said the Buffs made “subtle changes” to fix the offense this week. “Hopefully the changes we made are going to help us play more efficient and effective football,” he said.

CU defense: Two games in, this looked like an exceptional defense. The last three have been more of a struggle, however, as the Buffs have allowed at least 30 points and 439 yards in each game. Some of that can be attributed to fatigue from a unit trying to give its own offense a chance, but that’s not the only factor. Too many missed tackles have led to big plays and points for the opposition. “The thing defensively is that we’ve got guys that are playing fairly well, but we’re not really finishing plays,” Dorrell said. Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said the Buffs have to win more one-on-one battles but also get “more population” to the ball and finish tackles.

CU special teams: This continues to be a bright spot for the Buffs. Punter Josh Watts ranks sixth in the country with a 48.8-yard average and has done a great job in trying to flip the field. Kicker Cole Becker battled through a rough start, missing his first three field goals. He’s made two in a row, while also going 9-for-9 on extra points. Dimitri Stanley (punt) and Brenden Rice (kickoff) have made some solid plays as returners.

CU keys to victory      

Feed 23: Jarek Broussard — who wears No. 23 — ran for 301 yards against Arizona last year, but hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark since. In fact, he had more yards in that Arizona game than he has this entire season (256). Arizona has struggled against the run, though, so this is a great opportunity to get Broussard, as well as Alex Fontenot, Ashaad Clayton and others, going on the ground.

Take away the backs: Arizona has a solid running back duo in Drake Anderson and Michael Wiley and they are used not only in the run game but as receivers (25 catches between them). Together they’ve reached the end zone just twice, however. CU has to limit their effectiveness.

Play with confidence: After losing four in a row, frustration is building in Boulder, but the Buffs have enough talent to compete and win Pac-12 games – especially against the struggling Wildcats. Play with confidence, get a lead and carry it through to the finish line.

Buffs notables

  • In the first four games of the 2020 season, CU’s Jarek Broussard averaged 28.8 rushing attempts per game. That included 25 carries for 301 yards against Arizona in Game 4. In the seven games since, Broussard has averaged exactly half the number of carries (14.4 per game). He’s averaging 12.0 carries per game this season.
  • Punter Josh Watts has averaged at least 47.0 yards per punt in four consecutive games, making him the first CU punter to do that since John Torp did it in six straight in 2004. Watts has averaged 49.0, 51.9, 47.8 and 49.6 yards in the last four games.
  • CU has been held to 14 points or less in four consecutive games for the first time since 2008. It hasn’t happened in five straight since an eight-game stretch in 2005 (last three) and 2006 (first five). The Buffs’ 34 points in the last four games is the lowest four-game total since the last four games of 2005 (32 points).
  • CU head coach Karl Dorrell is 4-2 in his career against Arizona, including a 3-2 mark when he was the head coach at UCLA from 2003-07.
  • Prior to joining the Pac-12 in 2011, CU was 12-1 all-time against Arizona. The Buffs are 3-7 against the Wildcats since joining the conference.
  • The CU men’s basketball team will host an intra-squad scrimmage ahead of the football game at the CU Events Center on Saturday. Doors open at 9:45 a.m. with the workout beginning at 10:30. Admission is free and masks are required.
TUCSON, ARIZONA – OCTOBER 09: Running back Michael Wiley #6 of the Arizona Wildcats catches a 10-yard touchdown reception against the UCLA Bruins during the first half of the NCAAF game at Arizona Stadium on October 09, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Wildcats scouting report

Head coach: Jedd Fisch, 1st season (0-5, 1-6 career)

2021 Record: 0-5, 0-2 Pac-12

Last week: Lost at home to UCLA, 34-16

5 Players to Watch

  • RB Drake Anderson: The Northwestern transfer leads the Wildcats with 239 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He’s also caught 13 passes for 75 yards.
  • NT Kyon Barrs: He’s been Arizona’s most disruptive lineman this season, leading the Wildcats with 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.
  • WR Stanley Berryhill III: One of the Pac-12’s top receivers, he’s got 40 catches for 397 yards. He’s been in the end zone just once, though, and that was in Game 2.
  • QB Gunner Cruz: The freshman won the job out of training camp and then lost it. With Jordan McCloud out for the season, Cruz is back in the starting role. The Wildcats don’t need him to be exceptional, but he has to minimize mistakes.
  • LB Anthony Pandy: A top player on the Arizona defense, he’s got 42 tackles this season. Against CU last year, he had eight tackles and two interceptions.

Arizona offense: The Wildcats have been better on offense than CU, but not by much. They averaged just 16.8 points per game and have scored fewer touchdowns (eight) than anyone in the Pac-12. Losing dual-threat QB Jordan McCloud to a season-ending injury changes the dynamic of the offense a bit, as Gunner Cruz is more of a pocket passer. The Wildcats might need to lean on Cruz, because the run game has struggled, managing a Pac-12-worst 3.13 yards per carry. “They’re a young, talented team,” CU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. “They’ve got some really good skill on the perimeter.”

Arizona defense: Arizona is last in the Pac-12 in giving up 31.6 points per game, but that’s a bit misleading because opponents have three defensive touchdowns. Opposing offenses are scoring 27.4 points per game against the Wildcats, which is still a lot, but a significant improvement. Arizona has been one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12 for several years, has had good moments this year. The Wildcats are fourth in the Pac-12 in total yards allowed (366.6 per game) and they are second in the conference against the pass (and fifth nationally, at 154.0 yards per game). The run defense, however, has been abysmal. “Their system on defense is a pretty extensive system,” Dorrell said. “They do a great job of creating a lot of different looks from a defensive front standpoint. They do a lot of blitzing and linebacker pressures and a lot of different ways, which makes it challenging for any offense.”

Arizona special teams: Senior Lucas Havrisik is having a solid season, hitting 7-of-10 field goal attempts. He is 5-for-6 inside 40 yards. Punter Kyle Ostendorp is top three in the Pac-12 with a 46.1 average, including 10 punts of at least 50 yards. Stanley Berryhill III is averaging 10.1 yards per punt return, while Tayvian Cunningham posts 20.6 yards per kickoff return.

Arizona keys to victory

Give Cruz some confidence: QB Gunner Cruz lost his starting job earlier this year and is back in that role after an injury. Getting him going early in the game can open up the run game and lead to a successful day on offense for the ’Cats.

Follow the blueprint: It didn’t take CU opponents very long to figure out the key to stopping the Buffs’ offense was to focus on the run. Until the Buffs prove they can successfully beat teams through the air, Arizona and everyone else ought to focus the attention on stuffing the CU ground game.

Start strong and keep it up: Arizona has been in games, but doesn’t finish well. In Week 3, the Wildcats had a 13-0 lead but lost to Northern Arizona. In Week 4, they were within five of Oregon going into the fourth before losing by 22. In Week 5, they were down by just one midway through the third before losing to UCLA by 18.

Wildcats notables

  • Dating back to a 1986 visit, Arizona has won five of its last six games in Boulder, including the last four. CU beat the Wildcats at Folsom Field in 2011, but Arizona won matchups in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
  • Arizona has already held three of five opponents under 400 yards of total offense. The Wildcats did that just once in the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined.
  • Offensive lineman Donovan Laie has started each of the first 34 games of his career at Arizona. Since 1993, only eight other offensive linemen at Arizona have started at least 30 consecutive games.
  • Arizona is one of only two teams nationally to record two safeties this season – joining Virginia. The Wildcats had six safeties in the previous 15 seasons combined.
  • Stanley Berryhill III has 40 catches and is on pace for 94. That would break the Arizona single-season record of 93 by Bobby Wade in 2002.