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Colorado expert previews the Arizona matchup, makes a score prediction

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arizona-wildcats-colorado-buffaloes-football-q&a-ralphie-report-preview-analysis-prediction-pac12 Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats take a 17-game losing streak to the last place it won a game, Colorado’s Folsom Field, where they beat the Buffaloes in a shootout in October 2019.

A lot has changed for both programs since then, with each led by new head coaches. To help us better understand Colorado, we reached out to Jack Barsch of SB Nation sister site Ralphie Report for some insight. Here are his pointed answers to our dull questions:

Arizona Desert Swarm: “Arizona hasn’t scored more than 19 points in eight straight games, yet it has the ‘better’ offense in this matchup since Colorado is second-to-last national in scoring and total offense. What the heck is going on up there?”

Jack Barsch: “*deep sigh* Fundamentally, CU’s offense has a freshman QB who does not fit the offense he is being asked to run right now. Instead of either the scheme or the quarterback changing, the coaches are trying to just roll with what they have. It is NOT working. The offensive line has regressed since last year and that means there’s less room for Jarek Broussard to roam free. In short, it’s a mix of bad scheme, below-average QB play and both bringing out the worst in one another. It is not pretty.

“In general, CU fans are disillusioned with offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini’s game plan and play calls. He seems to have been figured out.”

What kind of changes do you expect on offense coming out of the bye?

“Well, coach Karl Dorrell already told us to expect ‘subtle changes.’ Excuse me if I’m not too excited about these subtle changes to one of the worst units in the country. I would HOPE they let our dual-threat freshman QB, Brendon Lewis, run a bit more out of the pocket, but it remains to be seen.”

Jarek Broussard ran for 301 yards last year in Tucson, with Colorado gaining 407 on the ground, while Arizona just gave up 329 to UCLA. Do you anticipate a run-heavy attack?

“I think CU will try to run more than they pass, yes. I don’t think that will get the Buffs very far, with the way that this offense has been performing. Broussard is still amazing, but it’s hard to run in spite of the five guys in front of you.”

Who on defense should Arizona be mostly concerned with in this game?

“The defense paints a rosier picture for the Buffaloes. Nate Landman at MLB has been around forever and continues to put up amazing numbers. He will be everywhere on the field. Mustapha Johnson just returned from a brief sojourn into professional football—the NCAA has some weird loopholes—so expect him to make some noise at the DE spot. Finally, CB Mekhi Blackmon has been playing lights-out all year.”

Is saying ‘Khalil Tate’ in Boulder like saying ‘Voldemort’ at Hogwarts?

“He’s not ‘persona non grata,’ but he’s definitely someone who brings up emotional scars. Those years, with different coaches on both sidelines, seem so much nicer now. I would kill for a Khalil Tate vs. Phillip Lindsay duel on Saturday. Instead, we’ll have to look forward to a stoppable force and a moveable object.”

Prediction time: Will Colorado beat Arizona at home for the first time since 2011 or will the Wildcats snap their FBS-worst 17-game skid? And what’s the score of this matchup of offensively challenged teams going to be?

“I cannot in good conscience predict the Colorado Buffaloes will win any game moving forward. This offense is so completely putrid that it’s hard to envision what multiple scoring drives even looks like. Arizona wins, 10-7, and anyone watching this game loses.”