"When he went down in the CSU game, I know in my heart if he would have been in there, their two touchdowns don't happen just because of the communication issue," Embree said. "That's how big it is having someone like Ray Polk in the game."
The Buffs, who are giving up a league-high 39.4 points and 309 yards passing per game, also expect to get linebacker Doug Rippy back from a sprained knee.
The key for the Sun Devils is to not look ahead.
After playing the Buffaloes, the Sun Devils get No. 2 Oregon in another Thursday night game at home. Then comes UCLA, which has been in and out of the polls, followed by road games against 10th-ranked Oregon State and No. 11 USC.
Considering the Sun Devils lost six of their final seven games last season after a 5-1 start, this week's game is one they can't afford to look past.
"I have said this earlier in the year that coming back from adversity is hard; I think handling success is harder," Graham said. "I think you have to stay hungry, you have stay focused on what you are doing, you have to stay motivated on the opponent that is right in front of you, so those are the things we have talked about.
"I haven't gotten any sense that our guys are overlooking Colorado."
The Buffs are looking beyond this game in one sense— "With recruiting and exposure, it's huge," Polk said.
"One of the reasons I came here is that I saw it as kind of a ground zero for a program, something you can build off of your hard work and the efforts of your teammates," Polk said. "It's kind of a challenge that we extend out to our recruits: Can you come to a place and know that you built something of your own instead of taking something that has been passed down? It's a program where you can build something and refurbish something to what it once was."
An upset of the Sun Devils would have immediate implications, too.
"Shoot, we win this game and we're tied for first in the Pac-12 South," Polk said. "It's huge regardless of what preseason handed us."
AP College Football Writer John Marshall contributed.
Reach out to AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton