Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Jake Mauff at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Colorado football team (4-4) snapped a 14-game conference losing streak against Oregon State last week. This weekend, the Buffs will travel to UCLA to face the Bruins (5-2) in a Pac-12 showdown.
To paraphrase the great Steve Young, the monkey is finally off the Buffs’ backs.
Despite the outcome, Colorado looked stumped for a fair amount of the game. The passing game declined in its first game without sophomore wide receiver Shay Fields, who suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks ago against Arizona.
After throwing for more than 300 yards in the last two games, junior quarterback Sefo Liufau passed for only 140 yards.
“You lose a little bit of speed, but I trust every other receiver that I have,” Liufau said. “I trust all those guys and I expect them to make plays and expect them to get open.”
The game plan last weekend required Liufau to do more than throw, however. He also led the team in rushing attempts with 18, and gained 44 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s one of those quarterbacks that the other team doesn’t like to see run,” coach Mike MacIntyre said. “You don’t see people really wanting to go hit him all the time.”
The run game against Oregon State was balanced between five different rushers. In total, the Buffs gained 188 yards at 4.2 yards a carry. The team totaled 45 carries, helping Colorado control the time of possession, 33:44 to 26:16.
Now, Colorado sets its sights on No. 24 UCLA. Last week, the Bruins won by 16 points against Cal. Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Trying to stop Rosen will be a tough job for the Colorado defense. The freshman is at the helm of a UCLA offense that ranks 25th in the country in passing, with 1,969 yards this season, and 15 touchdowns. Colorado is giving up 216.8 passing yards a game, 58th in the country.
On the ground, the Bruins are averaging 194.3 yards a game. That’s quite the number. It’s especially daunting considering the Buffs are ranked 110th in rushing defense. If Colorado can’t stop UCLA’s run game, it’ll be a long day for the defense.
The defense may be in for some improvement, though. This will be the second game junior linebacker Kenneth Olugbode will play after coming back from his injury against Oregon. Against Oregon State last weekend, he was second on the team with seven tackles, while also recording a sack and a pass break-up.
Colorado’s offense may also be in luck. UCLA is struggling against the run this year. They’re tied for 104th in the nation in rush defense. The Buffs will look to utilize the run game, much like they did last week against Oregon State.
This spooky game will air this Halloween, Saturday on the Pac-12 Network. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. (MST).