FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Colorado 3-3, Utah 3-3. Away Record: Colorado 1-4, Utah 1-4. Neutral Record: Colorado 1-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: Colorado 1-7, Utah 1-6. Series Record: Colorado leads, 31-25-3.
GAME NOTES: With no hopes at the postseason left for either team the Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes will just try to end the year on a good note when they match up at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday.
Colorado was still clinging to a chance at the postseason when it last hit the field but the Buffaloes were turned away, 47-29, by No. 23 USC. At 4-7 overall and 1-7 against then rest of the Pac-12, the Buffaloes have not played in the postseason since 2007.
After stunning Stanford, 27-21, in the middle of October for its fourth win, it looked as if Utah was well on its way to at least earning a bowl berth. However, since that upset victory, the Utes have not been able to get back in the win column, with five straight losses. A 49-37 setback against Washington State last weekend was the seventh loss of the year for the Utes. This is the second straight year the Utes have failed to qualify for the postseason after a nine-year stretch of bowls.
Reggie Dunn returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown for what turned out to be the game-winning score in last year's season finale between these squads. The win was the third in the last four meetings for Utah but Colorado still leads the all-time series, 31-25-3.
This contest isn't just between two of the worst teams in the conference in terms of wins and losses but two of the worst teams on the offensive end of the field. In fact Colorado is last in the league in total offense (374.4 ypg) while Utah is only a spot better (397.8 ypg).
Even though they don't have an all-league offensive unit, the Buffaloes have an all-league receiver in Paul Richardson. The 6-foot-1 receiver has hauled in 79 passes for 1,289 yards and 10 scores this season and has 17 catches of 20 or more yards. That is more than the rest of the roster combined. Last weekend Richardson had eight catches for 88 yards and a touchdown to set the single- season mark for receptions at Colorado after earning the record for receiving yards in a season a week prior. Nelson Spruce (49 receptions, 584 yards, three TDs) is another solid option but no other receiver has more than 20 receptions on the team.
On the other end of most of Richardson's receptions is freshman Sefo Liufau, who played himself into a starting role earlier in the season. Liufau has been solid in his first run through as he has thrown for 1,538 yards and 10 scores on 61.5 percent passes. Liufau threw for 188 yards and two scores on 17-of-33 passing against USC but was also picked off for the seventh time this year.
In terms of running the ball the Buffaloes rely on the efforts of Christian Powell (550 yards, three TDs) and Michael Adkins II (497 yards, six TDs). Adkins rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown against USC, while Powell managed 41 yards on eight carries.
As Liufau brings some hope for the future on offense, Addison Gillam provides similar optimism for the defense. The linebacker has racked up a freshman school record with 93 tackles on the campaign. Gillam's efforts haven't made enough of an impact though as Colorado ranks second to last in the Pac-12 in total defense (475.3 ypg) while allowing nearly 40 points per game.
Adam Schulz earned himself the starting job at quarterback for the Utes, though in large part due to a season-ending injury for Travis Wilson. Schulz has thrown for 775 yards and five touchdowns this season but he has completed only 46.3 percent of his pass attempts and been intercepted four times in five games. Schulz threw for a season-best 347 yards and three scores last week against Washington State, but connected on just 21-of-46 attempts and was picked off twice.
Like Richardson, Dres Anderson (46 receptions, 908 yards, seven TDs) is a talented receiver stuck on a weak offensive squad. Anderson is averaging nearly 20 yards per reception and is the only player on the roster posting more than 50 yards per game. Anderson had his sixth 100-yard game of the year last week with five receptions for 129 yards and a score. Sean Fitzgerald (31 receptions, 455 yards, five TDs) is an adequate second option.
There has been a revolving door at running back for the Utes this season. At different times Bubba Poole (606 yards, two TDs), Kelvin York (331 yards, four TDs) and Lucky Radley (278 yards, two TDs) have each gotten a crack at the starting job. Last week York was the most effective rusher, as he finished with 94 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts.
The biggest strength of the Utah defensive unit is its ability to rush the passer. Led by Trevor Reilly (8.5 sacks), the Utes lead the Pac-12 and are tied for second in the country in sacks (38). However, the Utah attack hit a road block last week, as the Utes failed to record a quarterback takedown. Even with the pressure the Utes create, they are still among the bottom of the league in terms of total yards allowed (404.6 ypg).
Richardson and Anderson provide the excitement for this contest, but with nothing more than pride on the line on Saturday, having homefield advantage may be enough to allow the Utes to finish the year with a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 28, Colorado 23
Saturday, November 30, 2 p.m. (et)