Buffs Vs. Cal: Quick Facts and Figures

Trevor Woods leads CU in unassisted tackles with 33.


Neill Woelk, editor

COLORADO BUFFALO (0-5, 0-2 Pac-12)

vs. CAL GOLDEN BEARS (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12)

ROCK — Last weekend, four Division I interim head coaches led their programs to victory.

Saturday, Colorado Mike Sanford hopes to become the fifth to accomplish the feat when the Buffaloes host Cal at noon at Folsom Field.

Sanford, hired last winter as CU’s offensive coordinator before being named interim head coach two weeks ago, has been doing his best to rejuvenate the Buffs. During his two weeks at the helm, he made some changes to his training, tried to simplify the defense to some extent and re-emphasized the fundamentals on both sides of the ball.

The Bears, who also just had a bye week, thought they discovered the key to a successful offense three weeks ago when they rushed for 354 yards and threw for 245 in a 49-31 win over the Arizona. But in their last outing, Justin Wilcox’s team rushed just 31 yards in a 28-9 loss to Washington State.

Still, the Bears have a big threat in running back Jaydn Ott, who rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona. They also have a very capable quarterback in Jack Plummer and a pair of solid receivers in Jeremiah Hunter and J. Michael Sturdivant.

But Cal hangs his hat on the defense. The Bears are giving up just 118 yards per game rushing, have 10 sacks and allow just 22 points per game.

The workings of Saturday’s game:

TO START UP: 12:01 a.m. Folsom Ground (50,183)

TV, RADIO: The radio show will air on KOA (850 AM, 94.1 FM) with Voice of the Buffs Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett in the pit and Andy Lindahl on the sidelines. KOA coverage begins at 10 a.m. with the pregame show. The Pac-12 Network will air the telecast with JB Long and Max Browne in the booth.

ON THE INTERNET: The game can be heard on the Internet at CUBuffs.com, and www.850koa.com in the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area. Live stats will also be available on CUBuffs.com.

THE COACHES: Mike Sanford will make his CU head coaching debut as the Buffaloes’ interim coach. He also served as head coach of Western Kentucky in 2017-18, where he compiled a 9-16 record.

Justin Wilcox is in his sixth season at Cal, where he went 29-30.

Sanford is 0-0 against Cal while Wilcox is 2-1 against the Buffs.

THE SERIES: Cal leads the all-time series 7-4, but the Buffs have a 4-2 advantage in Boulder. The Bears have won the last two games of the series, including a 26-3 victory last season at Berkeley.

WHAT IS AT STAKE: The Buffs haven’t started a 0-6 season since 2006, when CU lost their first six games en route to a 2-10 finish.

LAST EXIT: Colorado lost a 43-20 decision to Arizona while Cal fell to Washington State, 28-9. Both teams were exempted last weekend.

TEAM LEADERS: In two starts, freshman quarterback Owen McCown threw for 496 yards and two touchdowns. Deion Smith leads the Buffs in rushing with 195 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries and is also a dangerous freshman receiver Anthony Hankerson had 58 rushing yards against Arizona. Daniel Arias is the only Buff with double-digit receptions (16 for 237 yards, one touchdown).

Defensively, the Buffs are led by linebackers Quinn Perry (41 tackles) and Josh Chandler Semedo (35) and security Trevor Wood (40). Cornerback Nikko Reed leads in pass breakups with three.

For Cal, running back Jaydn Ott has 533 rushing yards with five touchdowns. Quarterback Jack Plummer threw for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns and wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter had 27 catches for 414 yards and two scores.

Defensively, linebacker Jackson Sirmon has 44 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Linebacker Xavier Carlton has four sacks and three different Bears have two interceptions.

KEY MATCH: Colorado’s McCown vs. Cal Secondary. The Bears have had seven passes this year, and their solid coverage is one of the reasons Cal has 10 sacks. The Buffs need to give McCown a chance to succeed and build early momentum.

NEXT: The Buffs hit the road next Saturday for a 6 p.m. game against Oregon State at Corvallis (Pac-12 Network).

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