CU Buffs vs. UCLA football: 4 things to know, key matchups and predictions

UCLA (3-0) vs CU Buffs (0-3), noon, Saturday, Folsom Field

TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/630 AM, 94.1 FM

Line: UCLA -21.5, 57 over/under

Weather: 72 degrees, sunny

What to know

Something’s gotta give. Other than the health of UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet, Buffs fans might be able to cling to this: The Bruins are allowing opponents to score when they reach the UCLA red zone 85.7% of the time and to reach the end zone on 57.1% of their trips.

On the other hand …  In three games, UCLA opponents only got inside the 20 seven times, or half of what the Buffs have allowed (14) over their first three games. Less encouraging: CU is last in the Pac-12 by a country mile in red-zone chances (five in three games), red-zone scores (three), red-zone touchdowns (one) and red-zone TD conversion rate (one in five, 20%).

Hiya, Hawk! Through three games, the Buffs’ 30 points are the fewest scored by the program since 2006 (23). That ‘06 team, coach Dan Hawkins’ first, opened the season with an 0-6 record and finished 2-10 (2-6 Big 12).

Chasing history (again). The Buffs need at least a touchdown against the Bruins to avoid becoming the lowest-scoring CU team through four games since 2006 (36 points). Since the end of World War II, only four CU teams have scored fewer than 38 points over their first four games. The 1966 Buffs managed just 36 (2-2 record). The ‘64 Buffs scored 31 points (0-4). The ‘47 Buffs strung together just 16 points (2-2) to open the season.

Key matchups

CU S Trevor Woods vs. UCLA RB Keegan Jones. In spite of some (occasionally questionable) targeting calls, Woods has been one of the rare bright spots on a battered Buffs run defense. Jones, who could get a lot of work Saturday, has averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 34 totes in relief of Charbonnet this season.

CU WR Daniel Arias vs. UCLA CB Devin Kirkwood. Given the potency of Bruins coach Chip Kelly’s offense, there are a lot of things the Buffs can’t afford to do — but drops are pretty high on that list. When Arias has hung on to the ball, he’s been a first-down machine. Kirkwood, meanwhile, leads UCLA in pass break-ups (three) and recovered a fumble against South Alabama last week.


Sean Keeler, sports columnist: UCLA 34, CU 10

Hey, remember when Karl Dorrell beat Kelly at an empty Folsom Field? Good times. Feels like about 10 years ago now. Since the first week of November 2020, the Bruins are 14-7, while the Buffs are 5-13. Athletic director Rick George is doubling down on Dorrell. Phil DiStefano is doubling down on the Pac-12 Network. CU boosters are doubling down on the antacid.

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: UCLA 38, CU 13

If there’s some hope to cling to, it’s that the Buffs have played UCLA well at Folsom Field, winning three straight dating back to 2016. And that’s about it. The CU offense remains comatose no matter the QB, the defense is already worn out and athletic director Rick George is Kevin Bacon in “Animal House” imploring the Buffs fans to “remain calm, all is well.”

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