The annual border battle between Colorado and Utah will feature some added spice this Saturday night. Both teams enter the regular-season finale with 5-6 overall records and will be fighting for bowl eligibility when they clash in Salt Lake City.
The Utes are hoping to extend their postseasonstreak to four straight seasons while the Buffaloes are aiming to procure theprogram’s first back-to-back bowl berths since 2005. Saturday’s loser will notonly miss out on the postseason but will finish last in the Pac-12 SouthDivision as both teams enter the contest with identical 2-6 conference recordsas well. A year ago, Colorado won the South with an 8-1 mark while Utahfinished third at 5-4. “There’s a lot at stake for them and for us,” Coloradocoach Mike MacIntyre told the school’s website earlier this week. “CU hasn’tbeen to back-to-back bowl games in 12 years, and our kids know that. … Utahgoes to a bowl game every year so they want to keep their tradition going. It’sa big deal for both teams.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, FS1. LINE: Utah -10.5
ABOUT COLORADO (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12): The Buffaloeshave dropped three of their last four but had a bye week last weekend to get insome extra preparation. Quarterback Steven Montez has topped 300 yards passingin each of the last three games and has a trio of 500-yard receivers to throwto in Bryce Bobo (640), Shay Fields (623) and Devin Ross (508), but Colorado’s mostpotent weapon has been senior running back Phillip Lindsay, who ranks second inthe conference in yards from scrimmage (149.6 per game) and is tied for fourthwith 14 total touchdowns. Linebackers Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis are averaging acombined 19.6 tackles per game for a defense which has been gashed for anaverage of 34.6 points and 495.4 yards in Pac-12 play.
ABOUT UTAH (5-6, 2-6): Coach Kyle Whittingham’sUtes will be trying to shake off last Saturday night’s stunning 33-30 loss atWashington in which the Huskies rallied for 10 points in the final 58 seconds.Quarterback Tyler Huntley rolled up 341 total yards and accounted for a trio oftouchdowns in the game and ranks second in the Pac-12 with an average of 302.9yards of total offense while wide receiver Darren Carrington II has battledthrough aches and pains of late and ranks third in the conference with 85.4receiving yards per outing. The Utah defense was without starting defensive endKylie Fitts and safety Chase Hansen against the Huskies but ranks third in the Pac-12in yards allowed (357.0) and fourth in points surrendered (24.9).
1. Utah has won four of the six meetings sinceboth schools joined the Pac-12 in 2011, but Colorado prevailed 27-22 at home inlast season’s regular-season finale to wrap up the South Division title.
2. Each of the six Pac-12 meetings between theschools have been one-score affairs with an average margin of victory of 5.3points.
3. Turnovers have been an issue for Utah, whichhas given the ball away 24 times – tied for third most in the Pac-12.
PREDICTION: Utah 31, Colorado 23