University of Arizona vs UCLA

UCLA wide receiver Kyle Philips (2) scrambles to recover his dropped pass as the Arizona defense closes at Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., October 9, 2021.

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ARIZONA AT COLORADO

TIME: 12:30 p.m. TV: ESPN

RADIO: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

Preview and predictions by Michael Lev


All about Arizona

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All about Colorado

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Matchups to watch

HEAD TO HEAD

1 Stanley Berryhill III vs. 6 Mekhi Blackmon

Berryhill is trending toward a spot on the All-Pac-12 team. He ranks second in the conference behind only USC superstar Drake London in catches (8.0) and receiving yards (79.4) per game. Look for Jedd Fisch to move Berryhill around and find creative ways to get him the ball.

Blackmon is Colorado’s best cover corner and second-highest-graded defender, per Pro Football Focus. A preseason All-Pac-12 pick, Blackmon has the Buffaloes’ lone interception and is tied for the team lead with three PBUs. He and Berryhill are both fifth-year juniors who bring plenty of savvy into their matchup.

24 Treshaun Hayward vs. 23 Jarek Broussard

The Western Michigan transfer arrived on campus just before training camp but quickly established himself as the LB corps’ premier run defender. That will be his primary task against Colorado, which rushed for 407 yards against Arizona last season. Hayward isn’t as effective in pass coverage.

Broussard had 301 of those yards. He has 256 yards through five games, but that has more to do with CU’s struggling offensive line. Broussard is averaging 3.12 yards after contact per rushing attempt, according to PFF. Hayward will need support from his teammates to keep Broussard in check.


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UA’s Gunner Cruz threw for 336 yards in his Wildcat debut, but may have left many more yards on the field. “Each opportunity he has, hopefully he’ll be smarter with the ball, we’ll get the ball out faster and we’ll know what to call better,” said coach Jedd Fisch.

When Arizona has the ball …

With Jordan McCloud out for the season, Gunner Cruz gets a second chance to run the UA offense. One thing has changed since his first stint: Arizona has run the ball more and better the past two games (162.0 ypg) than the first three (79.0). The key for Cruz is getting the ball out, so look Fisch to dial up some quick-hitting passes. Colorado hasn’t been the same defensively since limiting Texas A&M to 10 points (34.0 ppg since).

When Colorado has the ball …

If you think Arizona’s offense has been bad, Colorado’s has been worse. The Buffaloes are next to last nationally in scoring at 13.8 points per game. If you include only FBS matchups, that number drops to 8.5. Injuries and transfers thrust second-year freshman Brendon Lewis into the starting-QB role, and he has struggled, completing just 53.3% of his passes and averaging less than 100 yards per game. Arizona’s objective: Stop the run and force Lewis into must-pass scenarios.


Colorado Arizona St Football

Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis (12) during an NCAA football game against Arizona State on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Prediction: Arizona 20, Colorado 19

Just because the Wildcats’ last victory came in Boulder, where they’ve won four straight, doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. But no Pac-12 rival is more vulnerable than the Buffs, whose résumé includes a 30-0 home loss to Minnesota in which they were outgained 442-63. Colorado just had a bye, and that might help. It’s hard to fix all your problems in one week, though. Arizona has been close in the fourth quarter. It’s time to get over the hump.

Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or mlev@tucson.com. On Twitter @michaeljlev 

This article originally ran on tucson.com.

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