The surprising 5-1 Arizona State Sun Devils head to Boulder, Colorado this week for an important matchup with the other surprise co-leader in the South Division, the Colorado Buffaloes. ASU is 7-0 in Boulder, with Todd Graham holding a 2-0 lead over Colorado’s current coach, Mike MacIntyre. However, the 2016 Colorado team is much different than previous Buffalo teams the Devils have faced. Let’s see how the 2016 Colorado team looks from a statistical standpoint:
OFFENSIVE & DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
RED ZONE EFFICIENCY
THIS WEEK’S STAT 12-PACK
1. The Colorado defense has forced four turnovers when their opponents have been in the red zone
2. Colorado has won the turnover battle in four games so far this season, while they only won the turnover battle five time all of last year, and only twice in 2014
3. The Buffalo offense has scored ten rushing touchdowns in the first half and only two in the second half
4. All twelve rushing touchdowns for Colorado have come in the red zone
5. So far this season, Colorado has run the ball more than any other conference team with 281 carries; ASU is second with 264 carries
6. Eight of the twelve rushing touchdowns for Colorado this season came against just two teams; Colorado State and Idaho State
7. Colorado is averaging 9.0 yards per pass attempt this season, which is second highest in the conference
8. Colorado is averaging roughly a 65-percent or better completion rate on all three downs, first, second or third
9. Colorado averages 73-percent completion rate in the first half of their games, but only 57-percent in the second half, with all three interceptions thrown by Colorado coming in the second half
10. The Colorado defense has not allowed a rushing touchdown in the last two games against Oregon State and USC
11. Five of the seven interceptions by the Buffaloes this year have come when they were ahead by more than two touchdowns
12. Colorado is second in the conference in only allowing 53-percent of the passes against them to be completed. They have also allowed the second fewest yards per pass attempt in the conference.
DECODING THE STATS
In home games this year, Colorado is sixth in the conference in the average yards per carry in their run game and seventh in the average yards per carry they allowed. As far as passing the ball, the Buffaloes are first in the conference in the average yards per pass attempt in home games and also first in the average yards per pass attempt they limit at home. One other ranking has Colorado fourth in the conference in the number of pass receptions of 25 yards or more.
The Buffaloes have scored ten rushing touchdowns in the first half of their games this season and only two in the second half. At the same time, they have only allowed two rushing touchdowns in the first half, while giving up five in the second half. In the passing game, Colorado has thrown ten touchdown passes in the first half with no interceptions, while throwing six touchdown passes in the second half with three interceptions. The Colorado pass defense has intercepted two passes in the first half and five in the second half.
The numbers point out that the Colorado offense does much better in the first half of their games compared to after halftime. In fact, Colorado has scored a touchdown in almost half of all their first half drives. Also, in those first half drives they have only lost one turnover, whereas they lost the ball five times in their second half drives. Finally, the Colorado offense only experienced five drives that resulted in a three-and-out in the first half of their games, but twelve in the second half.
One of the biggest stats that jumps out when looking at the ASU numbers is in the fourth quarter. In that quarter, one-third of all the drives the ASU defense faced ended in a turnover. By contrast, the defense only generated one turnover in 68 drives they faced in the other three quarters. On the offensive side, ASU lost six turnovers in the first half, but only one in the second half.
The stats seem to point out that Colorado is more productive in the first half of their games, while ASU is better in the second half. Colorado is also more productive offensively and defensively in the passing game, while ASU is better in the run game. Finally, Colorado sits at a plus seven in turnover margin this year, while ASU is still negative one in that department. Although each team’s trends are different, one trend that will be true for either team; the winner of this game will still be atop the South Division.
Sources: pac-12.com & cfbstats.com