CUSportsNation.com staff writers Scott Hood, Jack Stern, and Mike Singer give their game predictions for Colorado's home matchup with Arizona.
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Scott Hood: Arizona 17, Colorado 27
What makes this game intriguing is both teams probably view it as a must-win considering both are winless in the Pac-12. Certainly from Colorado's perspective it is. The Buffs can't afford to fall to 0-3 in the league and realistically still have a chance to win the Pac-12 South for a second straight year. The Buffs offense needs to be more consistent. If they are, they should win the game.
Both quarterback are similar in playing style as far as being running threats. Arizona's Brandon Dawkins is a talented dual threat QB, while Steven Montez relies a little more on the pass and has done a better job in recent weeks staying in the pocket. Arizona's best hope is containing Buffs RB Phillip Lindsay in the ground game and making Colorado one-dimensional offensively. Defensively, the Buffs must protect the edge and keep Dawkins contained in the pocket. The Wildcats offense is predicated upon Dawkins getting outside and making plays on the perimeter. I think the Buffs will have success doing that. In the end, the Buffs' sense of urgency pays off and they get the much-needed 1st Pac-12 win. -Hood
Jack Stern: Arizona 21, Colorado 28
Out of all the teams in the Pac-12, the Arizona Wildcats are perhaps the most overlooked. Despite the Cats 2-2 record, both losses came by less than a touchdown. Their defense looks like they've turned over a new leaf under second year defensive coordinator Marcel Yates. In particular, they've really done a great job of stopping the run, ranking 4th in the Pac-12 in rush defense. True freshman Tony Fields II has been a surprise standout at linebacker, leading the team in tackles.
On offense, quarterback Brandon Dawkins is a true run threat. JJ Taylor and Nick Wilson are arguably the best running back duo in the Pac-12 and should do a good job keeping the Buffs guessing. Slot receivers Shun Brown and Tony Ellison need to elevate their play to make this offense multi-dimensional, and thus more explosive.
Overall, I see the Buffs pulling this game out at home. The Wildcats struggles with turning the ball over has killed them thus far, and it will doom them against a Buffs defense that have forced a turnover in every game. If Arizona's defense can hold their own, protect the ball on offense, and allow the run game to dominate, there's no question that they win. Unfortunately for Wildcats fans, I don't see this happening. I expect the Buffs to continue their turnover streak on defense, while using the play-action to consistently move the ball down the field and control the time of possession. -Stern
Mike Singer: Arizona 20, Colorado 27
I don't think this is going to be a pretty game, but I have Colorado pulling this game out. Not much left to say that my colleagues haven't said. It's going to be a close, hard fought game by two desperate Pac-12 teams, but I give the quarterback edge to Steven Montez, who keeps improving every game.
The Buffs also have the homefield advantage, and Folsom will be rocking in the night atmosphere. I expect the Colorado defense to force two interceptions and a big, bounce-back performance for Shay Fields and the BlackOutBoyz. -Singer