Pac 12 College Football Picks: #22 Utah Utes at #9 Colorado Buffaloes

#22 Utah Utes at #9 Colorado Buffaloes
Saturday, November 26, 2016, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Folsom Field – Boulder, Colorado
Opening Line: Colorado -10
Current Line: Colorado -10
Opening Total: 53 1/2
Current Total: 53 1/2
Opening Money Line: Colorado -400 / Utah +325
Current Money Line: Colorado -380 / Utah +290

Colorado hosts Utah with the Pac 12 South title on the line for the Buffaloes.
Colorado hosts Utah with the Pac 12 South title on the line for the Buffaloes.

The Colorado Buffaloes have been the doormat of the Pac 12 since joining the conference several years ago. However, this season, the Buffaloes are 9-2 and 7-1 in the Pac 12 South. Colorado can clinch a berth in the Pac 12 championship game against Washington next week in Santa Clara if they beat Utah on Saturday in Boulder. Colorado also has an outside shot of making the playoffs or at least the Rose Bowl.  Utah is 8-3 overall and 5-3 in conference. A Utah win would give USC the Pac 12 South title.

Colorado leads the series 31-28-3 against Utah including 15-12-1 in Boulder. Utah is 4-1 against Colorado since they joined the Pac 12, and has won four straight games against Colorado including 20-14 last year in Salt Lake City.

Utah is coached by Kyle Whittingham. Utah has home wins over Southern Utah 24-0, BYU 20-19, USC 31-27, and Arizona 36-23, plus road wins at San Jose State 34-17, Oregon State 19-14, UCLA 52-45 and Arizona State 49-26. Utah lost at California 28-23, and also has home losses to Washington 31-24 and Oregon 30-28 last week. The loss to Oregon knocked the Utes out of the division title race. Utah was an 11 point favorite against Oregon and the total was 69.5. The Utes are 6-5 ATS and the total is 6-5 this season.

Colorado is coached by Mike MacIntyre. The Buffaloes have road losses at Michigan 45-28 and USC 21-17. Colorado has won five straight games. The Buffaloes have a neutral site win over Colorado State 44-7 in Denver. Colorado has home wins over Idaho State 56-7, Oregon State 47-6, Arizona State 40-16, UCLA 20-10 and Washington State 38-24 last week, plus road wins at Oregon 41-38, Stanford 10-5, and Arizona 49-24. The Buffaloes were 6.5 point favorites against Washington State and the total was 59.5. Colorado is 10-1 ATS and the total is 5-6 this season.

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Utah is outscoring teams 31-24 this season. The Utes are #36 nationally in points allowed. Utah averages 436 yards per game on offense including 222 passing and 213 rushing. Utah is #34 in rushing nationally. On defense, the Utes allow 387 yards per game including 256 passing and 131 rushing yards. Utah is #27 or better in rush defense, but #101 against the pass. The Utes are +9 in turnovers with 26 takeaways. Utah averages 60 penalty yards per game and opponents average 50 per game. The Utes are 71/173 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/162. Utah has forced 38 sacks and allowed 19 this season. The Utes are 34/45 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns and opponents are 25/29 with 19 touchdowns.

Quarterback Troy Williams has completed 56% of his passes for 2,419 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, plus 91 carries for 227 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tyler Huntley has also taken a few snaps.

Running back Joe Williams retired earlier in the season for a month because of injury. When the Utes had a slew of injuries at running back Whittingham asked him to come back to the team. He has 158 carries for 1,088 yards and 9 touchdowns, plus 8 catches. Armand Shyne had 78 carries for 373 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Zack Moss has 76 carriers for 346 yards with 2 touchdowns. Troy McCormick has 37 carries for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 8 catches for 83 yards. Jordan Howard is also questionable for undisclosed reasons.

Receiver Tim Patrick has 38 catches for 606 yards and 5 touchdowns. Raelon Singleton has 25 catches for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns. Corry Butler-Byrd has 27 catches for 349 yards, along with 18 carries for 117 rushing yards and a touchdown. Evan Moeai has 20 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Siaosi Watson has 14 catches for 169 yarda and 2 touchdowns. Tyrone Smith has 10 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. Four defensive players are questionable or out.

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Colorado is outscoring teams 36-19 this season. The Buffaloes are #32 in scoring and #13 in points allowed nationally. Colorado averages 478 yards per game on offense including 269 passing and 210 rushing yards. The Buffaloes are in the top forty in all three categories. On defense, Colorado allows 322 yards per game including 190 passing and 132 rushing yards per game. The Buffaloes are #12 in total offense, #18 against the pass, and #28 against the rush. Colorado is +7 in turnovers with 20 takeaways. The Buffaloes average 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 58 per game. Colorado is 93/198 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 57/182. The Buffaloes have forced 31 sacks and allowed 25 this season. Colorado is 45/51 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns, and opponents are 21/30 with 16 touchdowns.

Quarterback Sefo Liufau has completed 67% of his passes for 1,880 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 125 carries for 424 yards and 6 touchdowns. He missed two games and most of a third earlier in the season with an injury. Steven Montez has thrown for 957 yards with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 47 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Phillip Lindsay has 199 carries for 1,081 yards with 15 touchdowns, plus 42 catches for 361 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Evans has 83 catches for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also has 7 catches for 101 yards.

Shay Fields has 43 catches for 741 yards and 8 touchdowns. Devin Ross has 56 catches for 664 yards and 5 touchdowns. Bryce Bobo has 41 catches for 523 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also threw a touchdown pass. He is questionable with a leg injury. Jay MacIntyre has 27 catches for 328 yards and a touchdown. Kabion Ento has only 6 catches for 136 yards but two went for touchdowns. Four defensive players are listed on the injury report.

Utah is 4-0 ATS after gaining more than 450 yards, 5-1 after allowing more than 450 yards, 13-3 against teams with winning home record, 4-1 after failing to cover, 13-5 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 12-5 in road games, 14-6 against teams with winning records, 1-4 in November, and 1-9 after allowing more than 200 rushing yards.

Colorado is 7-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 4-0 after passing for 280 yards or more, 9-1 on grass, 8-1 in Pac 12 games, after a win, after a cover, and after gaining more than 450 total yards, 5-1 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 14-3 overall, 7-2 against teams with winning road records, and 17-35 after allowing more than 280 passing yards. Colorado has covered the last five games in this series and were the underdogs in each of those games.

Colorado has been one of the best stories in college football. They are bowl eligible for the first time since 2007 and are playing with a lot of confidence. Utah might be a little deflated after the disappointing loss to Oregon last week, but the Utes can still play spoiler against their rivals. Still I like Colorado to win at home in a high scoring game.

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