BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The Colorado Buffaloes are coming off their first bye week since Jon Embree took over the program two years ago. It may not help.
Arizona State is also rested and rejuvenated after its own bye and the Sun Devils bring another dynamic offense to Folsom Field along with a pass rush that has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
The Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) have three players ranked in the top 40 in the nation in sacks per game in junior tackle Will Sutton, sophomore linebacker Carl Bradford and junior defensive end Junior Onyeali. The three combined for six sacks in their 27-17 win over Cal on Sept. 29.
"That's a good combination to have when you're getting that inside pressure along with pressure from the edge," said Embree, whose Buffaloes (1-4, 1-1) host the Sun Devils on Thursday night. "They'll pressure. They'll bring their linebackers; they'll bring their corners, occasionally a safety blitz. They have all the different kinds of pressure."
Buffs quarterback Jordan Webb said, "I think the offensive line is really prepared. We've got some schemes that will help us. I think I have full faith in our offensive line. I have every game. I think we'll continue to improve. Getting hit, a lot of that is on my back too, I have to get rid of the ball quickly."
The game is on ESPN, giving the Buffs a potential recruiting boost — or a chance to show a national audience just how far they've fallen since their heyday.
Colorado is 2-0 on Thursday night games at Folsom Field, having beaten Stanford in 1990 and West Virginia in 2008, but the Buffs are more than three-touchdown underdogs this week.
Arizona State is averaging 38.4 points per game with Taylor Kelly running new coach Todd Graham's up-tempo offense, and the Sun Devils' defense is superb despite a lack of depth at cornerback, leading the Pac-12 in scoring defense (13.6 points), total defense (276.2 yards) and tackles for loss (9.8 per game).
Not exactly the prescription for all that ails the Buffaloes, who got off to another disappointing start this season and are coming off a 42-14 loss to UCLA at home two weeks ago.
At least the Buffaloes caught a break this year: last season, they played 13 straight weekends.
"It's been good for us, we're excited to get some guys back healthy, allow us to address a few issues, tackling and turnovers," said Embree, who gave his players a Friday-Saturday furlough. "We did a lot live tackling. To the players it may not have felt like a bye, because we had a lot of live periods within practice and it was good to do that."