Colorado Buffaloes vs. UCLA Bruins: Complete Game Preview
The No. 17 UCLA Bruins (5-2) will look to get back to their winning ways as they host the lowly Colorado Buffaloes (3-4) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
Jim Mora's team has had a rough couple of weeks. Losing back-to-back games on the road against Oregon and Stanford had an undeniable effect on quarterback Brett Hundley. The signal-caller hasn't looked incredibly sharp and has struggled with consistency on throwing the ball down the field.
Colorado enters the game winless in conference play. Head coach Mike MacIntyre has the Buffaloes headed in the right direction. However, it'll take some time in order to build up the depth and overall level of talent on the squad. The Buffaloes will look to snap a 12-game winless streak in conference play.
Here's what you need to know:
Date: Saturday, Nov. 2
Time: 4:30 p.m. PT
Place: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Radio: XM Sirius Radio
Line: UCLA -27.5 per VegasInsider.com
Colorado Keys to Victory
1. Make Brett Hundley throw the football
It's feasible to believe that Colorado will take out a page out from what Oregon and Stanford did against the Bruins. Both the Ducks and Cardinal were successful by stacking the box against UCLA. Essentially, the defenses were daring Hundley to beat them through the air.
Hundley wasn't able to do so. With a lack of relative confidence right now, he struggled with both his accuracy and decision making. It's simple for Colorado: stop the UCLA rush attack and force Hundley to beat the Buffs with his arm.
2. Play aggressive
Colorado is outmanned in this game from a depth and talent standpoint. The Buffaloes simply aren't expected to win the ballgame.
With that said, why not be unpredictable? The Buffaloes may have to be in order to manufacture some points. Fake punts, trick plays and anything under the sun should be brought out in order to give Colorado a shot at being victorious.
UCLA Keys to Victory
1. Get Brett Hundley some confidence
UCLA should have success against Colorado through the air. Not only are the Buffs allowing 37.1 points per game, but MacIntyre's team is also No. 105 nationally defending against the pass.
It's imperative that Hundley gets out of this funk he's been in lately. With UCLA entering the final stretch of the season, Hundley needs to get right if the Bruins are to repeat as Pac-12 South Division Champions. Completions down the field early could help to get the signal-caller going right away.
2. Pressure Sefo Liufau
Expect UCLA to get after Colorado's true freshman quarterback. Up to this point, the Buffaloes (and Liufau) have not faced a defender with the pass rushing ability of Anthony Barr. Aside from Oregon, UCLA's defense will be the fastest that Liufau has faced all year.
With an inexperienced quarterback under center, the Bruins should look to force Liufau into uncomfortable situations. Should that happen, turnovers could come in bunches.
Players to Watch for Colorado
Richardson is one of the top three wide receivers in the entire conference (along with Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee).
He unsurprisingly leads the Buffs in receiving yards (914), receptions (50) and touchdowns (7). Richardson is also third in the nation in receiving yards per contest. His status for the game is up in the air at this point. He suffered a bit of a sprained ankle in last week's game versus Arizona.
If he can play, it gives Colorado a viable threat on the perimeter. He can take the top off of a defense at any moment. He is bar none the best receiver that UCLA's faced up to this point in the season.
The Buffs' true freshman 'backer is fourth in the conference in total tackles and is first in tackles per game (9.43).
Gillam has the versatility to play both outside and in the middle. He's got great sideline-to-sideline pursuit and is a very smart football player. Most notable about Gillam is his intensity. He's a max-effort guy that plays relentlessly on the field.
Against UCLA, he's got to flash and have a big game. If he can help force an early turnover, it could propel the Buffs to an upset.
Players to Watch for UCLA
UCLA's talented signal-caller needs to have a bounce back game against the lowly Buffaloes. Hundley just hasn't looked comfortable over the past few weeks. There's been a reluctance of sorts to throw the ball down the field.
Confidence is surely an issue at this point, and there could even be some sort of injury not publicly known. Regardless, he needs to settle down and play well.
A game against Colorado could be the perfect remedy.
UCLA started seven true freshmen last week against the Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium. Nose guard Kenneth Clark ended up with the start over senior Seali'i Epenesa.
Clark has tremendous raw power. He's not overly tall, but has the perfect wide body type to plug the middle and take on the double teams. He's also shown the ability to push offensive linemen in the backfield with some frequency.
If he's able to hold onto his starting spot over a senior (and returning starter), it shows how talented Mora and his staff truly thinks he is.
What They Are Saying
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre on his team: "We have to keep getting better as people, getting better as players, getting better as athletes, getting better as coaches. We have to all move it forward."
Colorado defensive back Jered Bell on the rest of the season: "We still have bowl game aspirations. Nobody likes to lose. We're not playing this game to go out there and lose. We're still giving our all and giving our effort."
UCLA head coach Jim Mora on Colorado receiver Paul Richardson: "He is dynamic. He has strong hands, he can come in and out of breaks. I read [that] he [was wearing] a boot on Monday. It would be really great if he wore a boot on Saturday, because that guy, he can scare you."
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone on the recent struggles of the passing game: "Calm seas don't make great sailors. We've got some rough seas."
UCLA 41, Colorado 17
I expect Brett Hundley and the UCLA offense to get back on track in this game. Colorado is essentially undermanned from an athleticism and talent standpoint. The Buffaloes play extremely hard, but the overall speed disparity between the two teams will be a huge advantage for the Bruins.
Colorado's true freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau has all the makings of a good quarterback one day. However, it's a tall task asking him to go up against one of the best front seven's in the entire conference on the road. The likes of Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt and Myles Jack will be breathing down his neck the entire contest.
It will be a couple of years until Mike MacIntyre has this program competitive. Much like the Bruins, Colorado relies on a plethora of true freshmen at significant positions. Unlike the Bruins, there's not a whole lot of experienced talent on the roster.