Facing another week as a big underdog, the Colorado Buffaloes must shock the UCLA Bruins with a big performance to get the W on Saturday. They have done it before this season when they overcame being about a 20-point dog against the TCU Horned Frogs in Week 1.
Because of the loss to Stanford, a game in which Colorado should have won after being up 29 points at the half, CU will need to win a few games it’s not supposed to in order to become bowl-eligible.
UCLA presents that first chance at stealing a game, but the Buffs must do the following to secure the upset:
Win the running battle
Carson Steele has been a monster throughout his college career, running through the MAC at Ball State and then continuing that dominance during his first year at UCLA. CU’s run game has been sporadic at best and must get on track to help quarterback Shedeur Sanders and the passing game. Winning the rushing battle on Saturday will go a long way toward getting the win.
Force UCLA into mistakes
Dante Moore is a true blue-chip freshman, earning a five-star ranking on every recruiting site before joining the Bruins. In UCLA’s three wins that Moore started, he threw eight touchdowns to three interceptions, but in the Bruins’ last two losses, the freshman QB’s numbers look much worse at four interceptions to only two touchdowns.
There is also a chance that UCLA goes with Ethan Garbers, who started against Stanford last week and has three touchdowns and two interceptions on the season. Interceptions can be found against both of these quarterbacks, but only if CU forces whoever starts into bad throws.
Dominate the trenches
CU’s defensive line has improved as the season has gone on by getting more consistent pressure and slowing down the run game in spurts. Limiting how much space UCLA has on the ground will lead the Bruins to pass and likely make mistakes as I mentioned above. The front seven has the horses to do this, but they must step up to slow down the Bruins.
Stay clean for all 60 minutes
Lost in the worst half of football that Colorado played all season in the loss to Stanford was the fact that through the first 30 minutes of that game, CU was nearly perfect. If the Buffs bring that same energy and level of play to the entire UCLA game, they have a shot at leaving the Rose Bowl victorious.
Keep Shedeur Sanders on his feet
Colorado may have its entire starting offensive line unit back healthy as right tackle Savion Washington returned to practice earlier this week. CU will need all the help it can get as UCLA is one of the leading sack producers in the country. Limiting the sacks and keying in on guys like Laiatu Latu will be imperative.