Utah has clinched its third Pac-12 South title in four seasons. Now the Utes are focused on extending their dominance over Colorado.
The two Rocky Mountain rivals will play for the 68th time Friday when the Buffaloes visit Salt Lake City to face No. 19 Utah. The Utes seem well equipped to beat Colorado for a fifth consecutive season.
The Utes have been a juggernaut against the rest of the Pac-12 this season, leading the league in scoring offense (38.4 points), touchdowns (41), total offense (456.3 yards), passing efficiency (144.2) and rushing touchdowns (28) in conference games.
“We’re getting to the point in the season where I feel like we have such a great identity on offense,” Utah receiver Britain Covey said. “You trust it. You stay behind it and you roll with it.”
Utah (8-3, 7-1 Pac-12) has enjoyed considerable success against Colorado since the pair joined the Pac-12 in 2011, winning eight of the 10 meetings in the series. During its current four-game rivalry winning streak, Utah has beaten Colorado by an average margin of 22.8 points.
The all-time series, which dates back to 1903, is even at 32-32-3.
Stopping the Utes will be an even more formidable task than usual for the Buffaloes. Utah dismantled Oregon 38-7 last Saturday, crushing the Ducks’ College Football Playoff hopes.
The Utes held Oregon to 63 rushing yards and scored on six of eight drives. Utah dominated the first half and when Britain Covey returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown on the last play before the intermission, the lead over the nation’s fourth-ranked team ballooned to 28-0.
The Ducks never had a chance to rally because the Utes effectively shut down Oregon’s offense at the line of scrimmage.
“Are we a finished product yet or where we need to be? No,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We’re still not quite as big and strong as we need to be. We have some freshman kids that next year, will be 10-15 pounds heavier and stronger. I think that’s really going to be a boost for us.”
Colorado (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12) has won two of its last three games as Buffaloes managed to grind out two of the games in the final minutes.
They forced four turnovers to squeak past the Washington Huskies despite being outgained 426-183 in total yards. Colorado converted just 2-of-13 first downs, but found a way to win.
“We’re not getting off the field on defense and we’re not staying on the field offensively,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said. “We have to be better in those two areas.”
The Buffaloes are last in the Pac-12 in total offense (267.4 yards) and rank 11th in scoring offense (19.3 points). Colorado has scored more than 20 points in a game just four times this season.