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Utah vs. Colorado Football Prediction and Preview

Utah vs. Colorado Football Prediction and Preview

Utah vs. Colorado Football Prediction and Preview

Utah and Colorado are in unfamiliar roles heading into the latest edition of their rivalry game.

The Utes (1-2, 1-2 Pac-12) are an underdog after a sluggish start to the season. Utah finally got in the win column with a 30-24 victory over Oregon State. The Utes piled up a season-high 229 rushing yards and held off a fourth-quarter rally by the Beavers. Ty Jordan led the way with a career-high 167 yards on 27 carries, becoming the first freshman running back since 1995 to run for more than 100 yards in a single game for Utah.

The Buffaloes (4-0, 3-0 Pac-12) enter this rivalry clash as a favorite rather than a spoiler. Colorado has exceeded expectations in year one under Karl Dorrell and has an outside chance at claiming its second Pac-12 South crown in school history with a victory over the Utes on Saturday coupled with a USC loss to UCLA. The Buffaloes beat Arizona 24-13 last weekend to keep pace with the Trojans. Colorado shutout the Wildcats in the second half and piled up a season-high 407 rushing yards.

Colorado holds a 32-31-3 lead in the Rumble in the Rockies. Utah has won three straight games against the Buffaloes, outscoring them 109-35 in those contests. The Utes have lost just twice in their last 11 games with Colorado.

Utah at No. 21 Colorado

Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. ET


Spread: Colorado -2.0

When Utah Has the Ball

It only took three games for the Utes to find their next star in the backfield. Ty Jordan injected a jolt of energy into the offense with his running abilities over the past two games. Jordan has a good mix of breakaway speed and vision even as a freshman. He has racked up 296 yards and a touchdown on the ground in three games, as well as 74 receiving yards on seven catches. Jordan is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and will demand a large role in the offense going forward.

Jordan's emergence should help Utah to improve its inconsistent passing game and in the red zone. The Utes scored field goals on each of their first three drives against Oregon State. It opened a door for the Beavers to rally late. Senior quarterback Jake Bentley has struggled to make the right reads and throws at critical times. Bentley has yet to tally 200 passing yards in a game even with top-notch targets like Brant Kuithe, Bryan Thompson, and Britain Covey at his disposal.

Covey is fully healthy again for the first time since 2018 and that will give Utah another much-needed playmaker on offense and special teams. The redshirt junior returned a 64-yard punt for a touchdown against Oregon State and tallied 54 yards on four catches.

When Colorado Has the Ball

The Buffaloes have been a force in the running game all season thanks to the emergence of Jarek Broussard in the backfield. Broussard has run for 733 yards in only four games. He is on pace to record a 1,000-yard season in just six games – an incredible feat for any running back. The sophomore is coming off his best performance yet, a career-high 301 yards on 25 carries against Arizona. He is the nation's no. 2 rusher with 183.3 yards per game.

Utah will be focused on stopping Broussard and the Utes bring the Pac-12's top rushing defense to the table. A solid outing from quarterback Sam Noyer would go a long way toward taking some pressure off Broussard to carry the offense. After opening the season with back-to-back 200-yard games, Noyer threw for only 92 yards and had a pair of interceptions against the Wildcats. The senior is completing 62 percent of his passes on the season, but he will need to show he can get some chunk plays to loosen up Utah's defense on Saturday.

If wide receiver Dimitri Stanley can bounce back to his early-season form, it will help the passing game a great deal. Stanley totaled 192 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches through his first two games. He's had just three for 54 yards over the last two.

Final Analysis

Utah has had the upper hand against Colorado since the two schools resumed their rivalry in 2011. The Utes are no longer in a position of power this season. The Buffaloes have been consistently strong on offense in 2020. Utah has a tough-as-nails defense once again. But the Utes are wildly inconsistent on offense and have a knack for struggling in the fourth quarter. Colorado has enough of an edge this time around to finally claim a rare victory against Utah and keep its perfect season intact.

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Prediction: Colorado 21, Utah 20

Podcast: CFB Rankings, Coaching Changes and Week 15 Preview and Predictions

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports, and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

(Jarek Broussard photo courtesy of @CUBuffsFootball)