Who: Colorado Buffaloes (1-2) at Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1)
When: Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 pm Arizona Time
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Spread: Arizona State (-14)
When it comes to gauging both ends of the spectrum in a two-week span, look no further than the Colorado Buffaloes.
Two weeks ago, Colorado led a fifth-ranked Texas A&M squad deep into the fourth quarter, nearly pulling off what was sure to be one of the biggest upsets of the year. Just a week later, that same Buffs team was flattened in a 30-0 rout by the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers.
We've seen two different levels of football played by Colorado, adding an element of surprise for both CU and ASU followers in terms of what to expect Saturday night.
The Buffaloes offense gained only 67 yards of offense in last week's loss to Minnesota, also setting a Pac-12 record for the most consecutive possessions (20) without a single point scored.
Second-string quarterback Drew Carter could potentially change that, as the freshman gunslinger looks to see an uptick in time on the field, which could transpire at Sun Devil Stadium. However, quarterback Brendon Lewis is again expected to start.
Colorado operates much like Arizona State in terms of offensive game-planning: Run the ball, control the clock and win the game. That's evident in the Buffs' conference rankings in passing (last with 91 yards per game) compared to their ability on the ground (seventh, 144.3 yards per game).
On the defensive side of the ball, Colorado boasts a top-four defensive unit within the Pac-12 for total yards allowed, while also allowing a conference best 15.7 points per game. For a Sun Devils offense that struggled to get going last week in Provo, Colorado's defense may provide further issues.
AllSunDevils was able to catch up with CUBuffs.com contributing editor Neill Woelk, who you can find on Twitter here for more great news, analysis and more on CU sports.
AllSunDevils Conversation With Neill Woelk
Donnie Druin: Colorado went toe-to-toe with Texas A&M two weeks ago, only to lose 30-0 to Minnesota last week. What caused the sudden change in outcomes between a week?
Neill Woelk: Colorado's offense definitely went stagnant. The Buffs did have some offensive line changes against the Gophers that caused some issues. The starting left tackle went out with an injury just 12 plays in; the starting center couldn't play after practicing all week, forcing them to bring in another player who hadn't practiced much with the first team. That affected the run game and pass protection. Minnesota also did a good job of keeping Colorado's QB, Brendon Lewis, in the pocket and not allowing him to extend plays with his feet.
DD: The Buffs set a Pac-12 record after going 20 consecutive drives without scoring a point. What needs to change for Colorado to reverse recent trends?
NW: My best guess is the Buffs will try to get back to some of the run game basics that were successful in the opener and against Texas A&M. They will also likely try to provide more opportunities for Lewis to make plays on the perimeter.
DD: Heading into Tempe, how would you gauge your current confidence in Colorado to pull off the upset?
NW: Honestly, I believe Colorado bounces back this week and plays well. The Buffs' confidence level is still fairly high, and they are looking at this game -- the Pac-12 opener -- as a new season in some respects.
DD: If you could, highlight a few impact players for the Buffs
NW: LB Nate Landman, a Butkus Award candidate, is having an outstanding year. He is averaging nearly 11 tackles per game and has five for loss this year.
CB Christian Gonzalez is having an excellent year in coverage.
DL Jalen Sami and Na'im Rodman each have 1.5 sacks
RB Jarek Broussard, last year's Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, was "nicked up" a little vs. Minnesota, but is still averaging 4.78 yards per carry.