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Colorado’s looks to end the season on a high note: Week 13 preview

The Utes try to stay alive for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Utah at Colorado Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The 14th-ranked Utah Utes (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) come into Boulder with Pac-12 championship game implications on the line.

If No. 21 Oregon State can beat No. 9 Oregon in the Civil War, and No. 13 Washington takes care of Washington State in Saturday night’s Apple Cup, Utah will be Vegas bound to play 6th-ranked USC. Before the Utes can force a rematch with the Trojans, they’ll have to put away Colorado first.

It’s a renewal of the ‘Rumble in the Rockies’ with the Buffs needing a lot of luck to pull off a victory in their 133rd home finale. Colorado is dead last in the nation against the run and that’s a problem against Utah’s strong rushing attack. The Utes puts up 205.2 yards per game on the ground, which is third-best in the conference behind UCLA and Oregon.

In fact, Utah is one of twenty-three FBS programs to average at least 200 yards rushing this season. As a whole, Colorado has yet to truly stop an offensive attack, allowing a ‘Power 5’ worst 495.9 yards per game. It’s been a historically disastrous season for the Buffs and they’re looking to turn a corner in 2023.

While Colorado (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) likely isn’t a threat to Utah, this is a perfect recipe for an unexpected loss and the Utes have struggled away from Salt Lake City. All three of their losses have come on the road with two in Pac-12 play. However, the Buffs must be perfect with zero mistakes to have a fighters chance. And that’s saying a lot considering CU is dead last in most statistical categories on both sides of the ball.

The Buffs offense has a total of four touchdowns in the past three games. Nine touchdowns through the air and nine on the ground with no CU running back having more than two scores this season. J.T. Shrout has completed 90-of-203 passes (44.3%) with 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns to eight interceptions.

From the desk of Dave Plati:

Stat of the Week- The Utah game will be a milestone for CU assistant coach Darian Hagan. At present, he’s been a part of 299 Colorado football games: between his time as a player from 1988-91 (49 games), two stints an assistant coach from 2005-10 and 2016-present (153 games), as the Alumni C Club director (35 games) and as a football staff member (62 games), he’s one shy of becoming the ninth known person to play and/or work in some capacity for 300 or more CU games.

Hagan will join former players/coaches/admins Kayo Lam (player, 1933-35, business manager 1936-70) and Brian Cabral (player, 1975-77, assistant coach, 1990-2012) and staffers Lee Akins (equipment manager, 1936-70), Fred Casotti (SID/associate AD, 1952-94), Jon Burianek (ticket/business manager, associate AD 1968-2006), John Krueger (facilities, 1982-2013) and Dave Plati (statistician, SID, 1978-present) along with the long-time voice of the Buffaloes, Larry Zimmer (1971-81, 1984-2014).

Obscure stat of the week- “62.5 … Global Cooling? The average temperature for CU’s 11 games dropped to 62.5 after a cool 42 at kickoff in Seattle last week; CU’s only had three games warmer than 72 at kickoff (84, 81, 78); the Buffs did have six night games (5 p.m. or later kicks). The forecast for Saturday’s Utah game is sunny, high of 53).

Game info

Colorado meets No. 14 Utah for the 69th edition of the Rumble in the Rockies. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT from Folsom Field on Saturday, Nov. 26. The Utes are the fourth-straight ranked opponent for the Buffs. The combined record of CU’s opponents this season is currently 89-43, including 4th-ranked TCU at 11-0.

TV: Pac-12 Network (National)

Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)

Weather forecast: 49°, partly cloudy

Odds: -29.5, Utah