Expert Handicapper’s Take: Arizona vs. Colorado Pick
Arizona Wildcats (6-3 SU, 8-1 ATS) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (4-5 SU, 5-3-1 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date and Time: Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 2PM EST
Where: Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado
TV: Pac-12 Network
Point Spread: ARIZ -10/COLO +10 (Bovada)
Money Line: ARIZ -415, COLO +310
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The Arizona Wildcats will battle the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder. It’s an interesting Pac-12 battle, with the upstart Wildcats coming off a nice 27-10 win over UCLA, their third win in a row, as they are making a real push in this conference. Colorado, meanwhile, continues to struggle, with Saturday’s 26-19 loss to Oregon State dropping them to 4-5. At home again this week, the Buffaloes look to stop the slide in what should be an interesting Pac-12 showdown.
Setting the Table
Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, the Wildcats aren’t the easy fodder they used to represent in the Pac-12. You could say that for Arizona, too, as Colorado isn’t the pushover they’ve recently been, despite the recent run of trouble in the Pac-12. We have seen the Buffaloes hit a bit of a wall, falling below .500 with a pretty rough 1-5 conference record, and five losses in their last six games. Even so, one-score losses to multiple ranked teams is a step up from where they were a short time ago. It’s fair to say both teams are better than what they’ve recently been.
Despite a fraction of the possibility that Deion Sanders has received, Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch represents where Sanders hopes to be heading. Having won four of six conference games, not to mention covering 8 of 9 spreads, we’ve seen this Wildcats squad transform into a real factor. After losing to Washington and USC in one-score games, the Wildcats have gone on what is for them a transcendent run, beating three straight ranked opponents. And a few of them have been pretty emphatic, with a 44-6 smashing of Washington State and the 27-10 win over the Bruins last week.
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Silver Lining for the Buffaloes?
Perhaps the hype train along with some harsh football realities setting in for Colorado have created a more sorrowful narrative than what is really the case. Their publicity was on par with a national contender, so these results don’t really jibe with that, leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths. In other words, the backlash might go too far, as they are actually still a team on the rise. This is a deep conference, and they caught the brunt of it, all within a tight timeframe. That’s a lot to ask any young team, especially a totally revamped one with a slew of moving pieces throughout the team.
After two games in a row at home and having not braved an overly rugged road schedule this season, the later-season rigors of going into conference road-locales like Boulder can put a dent into the warm-weather Wildcats. It’s early to tell, and it looks like it won’t be much more than a little chilly this weekend, but it’s still not an easy place to play, with that factor taking more hold as the season progresses. Sometimes, when you’re on the slide that the Buffaloes are on, you’ll take what you can get.
I think we’re seeing some gutsy play from Colorado QB and coach’s son, Shadeur Sanders. Often facing a lot of pressure, he moves well, has shown some toughness, and is putting up some nice numbers. With 24 TDs and just three picks, he’s completing over 70% of his throws and should benefit with a healthier Travis Hunter, who had a pretty big game last week. It’s just that overall, it’s an offense still finding its footing, and with a hit-and-miss defense, it’s not always going to stick.
Good Spot for Arizona?
Again, the Wildcats enter this with massive momentum, and with who they’ve been playing with five straight ranked opponents, might Colorado be an easier task? Or has the rugged schedule run them a bit ragged, leading into this demanding road-spot? Either way, I’d suspect the Arizona offense and QB Noah Fifita to test this Colorado “D” with their weapons. Fifita has shown a nice aerial edge since taking over starting duties from Jayden de Laura. He’s been working with a line that is finding its way and a nice multi-pronged backfield that can do damage. Receivers Tetairoa McMillan and Jacob Cowing are very productive, as is tight end Tanner McLachlan.
One thing is for sure, and that is that Colorado is going to need to see an uptick on offense, having not topped 19 points in either of the last two games.. Arizona is coming off having held the Bruins to 10 points at the Rose Bowl in their last game, along with holding Washington State to 6 in Pullman a few weeks back. So going into an opponent’s stadium and having their defense take over games is nothing new this season for Arizona. Taking a good long look at what Arizona has accomplished lately and how much work it took to get here, doesn’t this seem like a strange time for it all to end?
Take the Points
The opposing team trajectories and the amount of distance Colorado has traveled in some people’s minds from hype-machine to sub-.500 team has perhaps overstated the disparity between these two teams. Arizona has been terrific with this three-game stretch, but maybe it took a tiny edge off. And now they’re on the road as double-digit favorites, and as someone might say in a rapidly-accelerating relationship, “This is all happening so fast.” Something tells me the Buffaloes will summon enough offensive firepower to keep this one in the ballpark and cover the spread on Saturday. I’ll take the Buffaloes in this one.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Colorado Buffaloes plus ten points.