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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Arizona State Sun Devils: Game Preview

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The Buffaloes are 0-7 since 2006 against the Sun Devils.

Colorado v Arizona State Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) have the opportunity to erase a winless streak against an opponent for the second consecutive week. After falling to the USC Trojans, the Buffs take their chances against the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12). The only conference loss for both teams has come against USC in the past two weeks.

CU’s offense was shut down by the Trojans’ defense last week, suffering a 21-17 road defeat. ASU was held to six points going into the fourth quarter of an eventual 41-20 loss the week prior. Since 2006, Colorado has yet to score more than 24 points in seven games against the Sun Devils, with the average margin of defeat being 26.4 points per game. ASU’s only undefeated all-time series against a team with at least six games played.

What to expect from Colorado on offense

Which CU quarterback will stepping in to lead the offense this week? Does Steven Montez get his fourth-straight start or will Sefo Liufau come back 100% from a high ankle sprain? Coach Mike Macintyre will make the decision on who gets the start this week after both quarterback failed to move the ball effectively last week. The two quarterback are similar with the only exception being that Liufau is more experienced and battle tested against conference opponents. Liufau should be healthy and named the starter come game time.

The Buffs gave up a turnover or were forced to punt in nine out of twelve possessions against USC and seven of those drives reached Trojans’ territory. It was a bad showing for Colorado’s offense, who’s currently ranked fifteenth in the nation for offensive efficiency, ninth in total yards (3,027), eighth in first downs (153) and fourth in third down conversions (46.9 %).

Success running the ball will be tough for the Buffaloes against a stout Sun Devil defensive front. ASU’s rushing defense behind linebacker DJ Calhoun ranks as one of the best in college football, holding opponents to an average of 89.3 yards per contest.

What to expect from Colorado on Defense

Forcing turnovers continues to be a focal point for defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and his crew. Colorado’s tied for 11th in the nation with a turnover margin of +7 and holds the nation’s longest consecutive streak for forcing at least one turnover in the last 19 games. Ironically, it marks the same amount of time as Leavitt’s tenure in Boulder.

Colorado ranks 51st or better in ever defensive category in the nation, except for special teams on punt and kickoff return coverage. The Buffs have one of the worst coverage units in the nation, giving up an average of 21.2 yards per return and have played three of nation’s best returners, USC’s Adoree Jackson, Oregon’s Charles Nelson and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers.

The Buffs defensive front will be tasked with stopping an ASU rushing attack led by Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard, who are tied for sixth in the nation with a combined 18 touchdowns scored on the season. CU has allowed opponents an average of 4.2 yards per carry thru six games, right on par with ASU’s average on the ground.

What to expect from Arizona State on offense

Arizona State’s fast paced rushing attack of Richard, Ballage and crew has accounted for 1,100 yards and a majority of the touchdowns scored. Quarterback Manny Wilkins has failed to balance out the offense with 1,233 yards and five touchdowns. The Sun Devils are close to equaling last year’s total rushing touchdowns (19) and could be on pace to lead the nation at the end of the season (although they don't get play Texas Tech again).

It's looking like Wilkins will start against the Buffaloes after missing last week against UCLA with a leg injury. The quarterback options will be limited for ASU coach Todd Graham after backup Brady White, who started last week suffered a season-ending injury. Freshman Dillion Sterling-Cole is listed behind Wilkins on depth chart, if needed. The Sun Devils have thrown an interception in every game except for Texas Tech.

What to expect from Arizona State on defense

The perfect way to describe the Sun Devils’ defensive efforts is... polarizing. The divided group ranks twelfth against the run, but is dead last against the pass. ASU has given up the second-most amount of touchdowns (19) with an average of 404.3 yards per game. The nation’s worst secondary will to stop the trio of Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross. Colorado’s ranked 22nd in red-zone offense with an average of nearly five touchdowns per contest.

Odds and ends

According to most Las Vegas sports books, Colorado is favored by 12 points on the road and is a perfect 6-0 against the spread this season.

CU Alumni Herb Orvis will be honored during halftime for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame happening in December.

Colorado and Arizona State meet at Folsom Field on Saturday (10/15) with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. MT. An under capacity crowd of about 46,000 expected for the 102nd homecoming game in Colorado’s history. Weather forecast: 77° & Sunny. TV: Pac-12 Network, Radio: 850 KOA.