ASU’s 2021 Schedule
Sep. 25: vs. Colorado
Oct. 2: @ UCLA
Oct. 8: vs. Stanford (Fri.)
Oct. 16: @ Utah
Oct. 30: vs. Washington State
Nov. 6: vs. USC
Nov. 13: @ Washington
Nov. 20: @ Oregon State
Nov. 27: vs. Arizona
Colorado’s 2020 Season
The Buffaloes finished their shortened 2020 campaign with a 55-23 loss to Sam Ehlinger and the 20th-ranked Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl, giving them a 4-2 record (3-1 in Pac-12) on the year.
It was hard to get a gauge on just how good Colorado was last year, as they had three games cancelled against big time opponents in USC, Oregon, and of course Arizona State. However, they exceeded expectations and became the biggest surprise team of the season.
Overall, they were able to handle the adversity of a shortened season well and their record showed that, despite finishing ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring. Coming into this season, there are a lot of question marks of whether 2020 Pac-12 Coach of the Year Karl Dorrell will be able to lead his squad to another season like that in 2021.
The biggest name on last year’s roster is back and looking to tear up more defense than he did last season. That would be reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jarek Broussard. Broussard rushed for almost 900 yards and five touchdowns in 2020.
Only standing at 5-foot-9, the redshirt sophomore running back has plenty more to prove with a longer schedule, because he has had two ACL tears. Broussard will also be joined in the backfield this year with the Buffaloes 2019 leading rusher, Alex Fontenot, who missed last season with a hip injury.
The new one-time transfer rule has hit many programs across an array of sports, and Colorado football is not an exception. All-Pac-12 second team quarterback Sam Noyer left the Buffaloes in June to join Oregon State, leaving sophomore Brendon Lewis and Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout to fight for the spot.
On the other side of the ball, Colorado will be without defensive coordinator Tyson Summers, who was fired from the program this offseason. Under Summers in 2020, the Buffaloes were ranked seventh or eighth in virtually every defensive metric among Pac-12 schools.
This however is a “big loss” that could help the Buffaloes. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson will take over the role and could bring new energy to the defensive side of the ball, one that we have not really seen from Colorado the past few years.
Reason Why ASU Could Win
Arizona State seems to be sporting one of the top teams in the Pac-12. Playing a team like Colorado as their first Pac-12 opponent has its advantages and disadvantages, however they should be ready to play their brand of football when the Buffaloes come to Tempe on Sept. 25.
Despite Colorado returning three defensive players that earned preseason All-Pac-12 honors, they do not necessarily do anything at a shut-down level on defense. ASU has too many weapons on the offensive side of the ball for Colorado to keep up with, and as soon as the Sun Devils gain an advantage, then game could be over.
All Arizona State would need to do is shut down the running backs of Colorado and there will not be much room for them to mount a comeback.
Reason Why ASU Could Lose
Colorado is opening its season against Minnesota and Texas A&M, so coming to Tempe, they will have already been battle-tested. Back in 2019, the last time these two teams met, it came down to the wire with Colorado walking away with the 34-31 win.
Last year, Colorado found ways to win without putting up big numbers. If they are able to establish their running attack early against a Sun Devil team who finished ninth in rushing defense in 2020, the Buffaloes can keep ASU on their heels and find a way to win.