“Colorado is definitely an underrated team,” receiver Jordan Payton said this week. “People sleep on them a lot.”
Will UCLA? The No. 24 Bruins are back in position to win the Pac-12 South, but need five straight victories to do it. The Buffaloes don’t look like an imposing hurdle, not after an in-conference losing streak that finally ended at 14 games last weekend.
Las Vegas sportsbooks now has UCLA listed as a consensus 23-point favorite. Here’s what to watch in today’s noon kickoff at the Rose Bowl.
When UCLA has the ball
No Pac-12 team has totaled fewer than 200 rushing yards against it this season, and through all eight games, the Buffaloes have surrendered 1,676 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Only 19 teams in the FBS give up more than Colorado’s 5.06 yards allowed per carry.
UCLA’s Paul Perkins is one of the conference’s best running backs, but the Bruins might not want to overwork him given the knee injury that forced him out of last week’s win over Cal. While Perkins is expected to suit up, look for backup Nate Starks and freshmen Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi to get some carries.
But the Buffs are at least noticeably better than they were the past few years, when they ranked near among the worst in the country. First-year defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has installed a scheme that relies more on man coverage, and one that has better utilized the existing roster. Look for him to try and throw different pressures at freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.
Defensive back Chidobe Awuzie has been the biggest beneficiary of the coaching change, racking up a team-high four sacks as well as six pass breakups and two interceptions. He and the rest of the Buffaloes have registered 14 takeaways this season, making at least one in every game. They’ll likely need more than that to make it a close game. Continue reading