It's the deep offseason right now, so we thought we'd put together some advance primers on the 2015 opponents on UCLA's schedule. We've already previewed Virginia, UNLV, BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, and California. Next up: UCLA's eighth opponent of the season, Colorado.
Oct. 31, The Rose Bowl
2014 Record: 2-10 (0-9)
2014 Recap: The Buffaloes were about as terrible last season as they have been every season since entering the Pac-12 in 2011. Colorado's victories came against UMass and Hawaii, and despite some more competitive games than years past (we're looking at you, double overtime versus both California and UCLA) Colorado failed the record a conference victory for the first time since entering the conference. Offensively, Colorado wasn't a complete disaster, ranking a mediocre-but-not-terrible 80th in the country at 5.2 yards per play. Defensively, the Buffaloes were unspeakably awful, like something out of Lovecraft. Colorado ranked 116th in the country in yards per play allowed at an astounding 6.4 yards. Shoring up that defense is imperative if the Buffaloes want to win more than two games in 2015.
Returning Starters: 16 (9 defense, 7 offense)
Notable Recruits: OG Tim Lynott , TE Chris Bounds ,
QB Steven Montez , RB Patrick Carr
2015 Projection: This season represents a big and potentially final opportunity for Mike MacIntyre to turn the Colorado program around and start building some momentum. Quarterback Sefo Liufau, building on two solid years as the starter, is poised for a big season this year with receiver Nelson Spruce returning. The offensive line lost two starters, but returns three, and there should be enough continuity at the skill positions and along the line to have an offense that's somewhat better than last year's.
As we wrote above, though, the question is the defense. Even returning nine starters, we're presented with the same issue that we were presented with when previewing California: when your defense is that bad, is it actually beneficial to return that many contributors to a bad defense?
We'll say, in this instance, that it is, in the sense that the added experience should at least make this a better unit than it was in 2014, when it was awful. Colorado returns six of seven starters in the front seven and three of four defensive backs, which should make this one of the more experienced starting groups in the Pac-12. Whether that's enough to push this unit to the point of being at least mediocre is an open question.
The schedule doesn't do Colorado a ton of favors, though. The non-conference slate is fairly easy, with three winnable games against Hawaii, UMass, and Nicholls State, with a tossup home game against Colorado State. In conference, though, the Buffaloes have five road games against Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington State, and Utah. Washington State and Oregon State might have both been winnable at home, but on the road, it's much harder to project those as wins. At home, Colorado gets Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, and USC -- all of whom should beat the Buffaloes soundly. In other words, there's a completely conceivable scenario where Colorado goes 0-9 in conference again.
Outlook for UCLA: We said in the previous installment that we thought California had a chance to be a little bit better than a cupcake next year, making that a somewhat difficult game, or at least more difficult than you might expect. With Colorado, UCLA should have its first true cupcake since the UNLV game.
Now, of course, UCLA struggled against the Buffaloes last year, winning a double-overtime game in Boulder. But that was a strange road game during an extended lull in UCLA's season. Even if UCLA goes through a similar lull this year, having this game at home should be a significant factor in UCLA's favor.
This game will also come after one of those weird almost bye weekends that come after a Thursday night game, so UCLA should be fairly well-rested and poised for the final third of the season.
Next up: Oregon State...
2015 Opponent Primer: Colorado
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