CU Buffs (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) vs. No. 14 Utah (8-3, 6-2)
When/where: 2 p.m. Saturday/Folsom Field
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/850 AM, 94.1 FM
Line: Utah -29.5, 52.5 over/under
Weather: 53 degrees, sunny
What to know
Sanford’s swan song?: It’s expected that CU will name its permanent head coach within days, if not hours, of Saturday’s season-finale, and it’s a near certainty interim coach Mike Sanford will not be the name in that news release. But with numerous current players lobbying on his behalf, could the next head coach find a spot for Sanford on the CU staff? For a program that’s employed five head coaches (two interim) in the past five seasons, any sort of continuity would be welcome.
Murderer’s row: For the fourth week in a row, CU faces a team ranked in the top 20 of the College Football Playoff rankings. Stretch it back to Week 1, and seven of the 12 opponents on CU’s schedule are in the current CFP rankings. The list: No. 4 TCU (Sept. 2), No. 18 UCLA (Sept. 24), at No. 21 Oregon State (Oct. 22), No. 9 Oregon (Nov. 5), at No. 6 USC (Nov. 11), at No. 13 Washington (Nov. 19) and No. 14 Utah (Saturday). CU lost the first six by an average margin of 35 points.
Awkward rivals: The Rumble in the Rockies has yet to gain traction 11 years into both schools’ Pac-12 experience. The primary reason: Rare is the instance that both teams had something significant to play for in the end-of-season game. Only once in the previous 11 meetings have both teams entered the game with a winning record (2016). It’s also been decidedly one-sided, with Utah winning 9 of 11 to surge ahead in the all-time series at 33-32-3.
Chasing history: A loss to Utah on Saturday would tie the Buffs with Jon Embree’s 2012 team (1-11) for most losses in a single season. CU has lost double-digit games seven times in its 121-year history. Four of them have come since the school joined the Pac-12 in 2011, and five since the start of the Dan Hawkins era in 2006.
Utah TE Dalton Kincaid vs. CU linebackers: The favorite target of talented QB Cameron Rising, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Kincaid (61 receptions, 748 yards) is a big, athletic tight end who works the seams as well as anyone in the Pac-12. If the Buffs have any chance of getting the Utes off the field, limiting Kincaid will be critical.
CU RB Alex Fontenot vs. Utah S Cole Bishop: The senior running back has been rock solid over the past two weeks, rolling up 220 yards on 38 carries (5.8 yards/carry). If he can keep up that production against the nation’s 23rd-best rush defense, the Buffs could hang around long enough to make things interesting.
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Utah 39, CU 10
Prime Time in Boulder? Not yet, kiddies! The Utes need a lot of help to back-door their way into the Pac-12 championship game. But they can start by helping themselves against a limping CU team that can see the finish line, but still … can’t … quite … tackle it..
Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: Utah 41, CU 10
Each of the Buffs’ last five opponents eclipsed 40 points, and the last two topped 50. Hard to see that streak coming to an end against the Utes, whose ground-and-pound bonafides (18th in FBS at 205.2 rush yards/game) are a bad match for CU’s FBS-worst rush defense (232.5 yard/game).