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Opponent Preview: Colorado

The final regular season game is all of a sudden here for the University of Utah, and it is the Rumble in the Rockies on Senior Day in what is sure to be an emotional day. Even with the Pac-12 South locked up and a conference championship game berth, this team is still focused on sending out their seniors on the right note in their final game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Colorado is only 4-7 on the season (3-5 in conference), but they have played the spoiler to Utah moments in years past. While “spoiler” isn’t possible as the Utes are already in the Pac-12 Championship Game, Utah does want to keep their momentum going. The Utes have the opportunity to finish the season undefeated in the division, so look for them to come out focused and on a mission.

Colorado strength: Running back, Broussard

While it has been a difficult season to be a Colorado fan, sophomore Jarek Broussard gives the Buffaloes hope for the future. Statistically, his numbers are not spectacular with 661 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but he rushed for 151 yards against a tough Oregon State team in Colorado’s surprise overtime win and he rushed for 108 yards in a loss to UCLA a couple weeks ago. Despite a tough outing against Washington last week, he has over 300 yards in three games in November with a 5.8 yard per carry average. Moving forward, Colorado would like to see him find the end zone more often, but the small back hits the hole quickly and can bring some power.

Colorado question mark: Third down defense

Like Utah, Colorado is going through a bit of a youth movement on the defensive side of the ball. Unlike Utah, Colorado is going through some serious growing pains, particularly on third down. Last week, Washington converted 14 of 21 third down conversions. In their steamrolling of Oregon, Utah converted 11 of 14 third downs. This game is not expected to be close, but it could feel painfully tough for Colorado if Utah finds success on the ground to sustain long drives filled with third-and-shorts. If Colorado is able to get the Utes in third-and-longs and get some stops, this one could look closer than expected.

Colorado X-factor: Upset special?

On paper, everything points to Utah dominating this game and finding time for the second-string units in the second half and preserving against injuries. It is hard to find something that Colorado can capitalize on, especially with being in Salt Lake City on Senior Day. Perhaps the only thing that stands between this Utah football and a win is themselves. That being said, the Pac-12 North representative for the championship game is still unknown, so Utah should not have issues being caught looking ahead to next week.

Prediction: Utah 38, Colorado 13