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Colorado Vs. Arizona: Key Match-Ups

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Buffs look to make November matter in Boulder

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's game against Arizona will go a long way in determining if Colorado's bowl aspirations are achievable in Mike MacIntyre's first season at the foot of the flatirons. The Buffs stand at 3-3, with wins against two FCS schools, and Colorado State. Should Colorado beat Arizona, it wouldn't be insane to envision two more victories (home games California and USC come to mind as possible W's). However, lose to Arizona, and the Buffs would have to snag a Pac-12 win on the road.

Offense:

  • Paul Richardson vs. Shaquille Richardson (and the rest of the U of A secondary) - Okay, I couldn't resist featuring the matchup of the Richardson cousins - but Paul also provided intel on other members of the Arizona secondary. "Paul has given me tips on both corners, not necessarily just his cousin," said MacIntyre. "We're communicating very well, me and the receivers."
  • Michael Adkins II vs. Arizona's Front Six - Arizona Defensive Coordinator Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 has made some strides this season after an ugly 2012 season. However, U of A's rushing defense has been pretty weak (169.7 yards per game, 74th in the nation). After a record-setting performance against Charleston Southern, Adkins and his backfield mates Christian Powell and Tony Jones must take advantage, as the Wildcats' passing defense has made remarkable strides since last season.
  • Colorado Offense vs. Turnovers - Arizona comes in to Saturday night's game at 21st nationally in turnover margin (+5). Sefo Liufau will need to build on his serviceable first start and manage the game.

Defense

  • Colorado Front Seven vs. Ka'Deem Carey - Carey, the nation's leading rusher, ran all over Colorado in Tucson last season, racking up an absurd 366 rushing yards (14.6 yards per carry!), breaking school and conference records. Simply put, the returning members of the Colorado defense should be enraged by the memory of Carey's stellar outing last season. "He's a beast of a ball carrier," said MacIntyre.
  • Colorado Linebackers & Secondary vs. B.J. Denker - Denker made his first career start against CU last season and hasn't looked back. CU's linebackers must stay disciplined - how many times have we seen a 3rd down play covered well, only to give up 10-15 yards on a quarterback scramble? Denker's speedy and he can throw really well on the run.
  • Colorado Defensive Ends vs. Arizona's Bookend Junior Tackles - Juniors Fabbians Ebbele and Mickey Baucus have started the vast majority of their first three seasons at Arizona. They've done an excellent job protecting Denker. Over the last 19 games, Arizona has only surrendered 27 sacks.