Colorado football vs. UCLA preview

Colorado football

It has been a long, extremely difficult 338-day wait, but Colorado football is finally back. The Colorado Buffaloes begin their season this Saturday at home against the visiting UCLA Bruins. According to ESPN, UCLA comes in with a 57.1% probability to win with a -6.5 spread. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET.

Buffs’ new head coach Karl Dorrell is not only making his debut for Colorado but is facing his former team in the Bruins. From 2003 to 2007, Dorrell served as UCLA’s head coach and finished with a 35-27 record in his time. Ironically, his first game as head coach for the Bruins was in Boulder against the Buffs, a game in which Colorado came out victorious 16-14.

The Colorado football team received permission on Oct. 29 to host up to 920 family members of Colorado and UCLA football players and staff. Each player will receive four tickets, and no general or student fans will be allowed in attendance.

Through its first nine seasons in the Pac-12, Colorado football has only defeated UCLA twice. Last year the Bruins defeated the Buffs 31-14 at the Rose Bowl.


For the first time in three years, Colorado will be trotting out a new starting quarterback. On Oct. 30, Dorrell announced that the quarterback-to-safety-to-back-to-quarterback prospect Sam Noyer will be the starting the season opener. Noyer had to be convinced to stay at Colorado after the head coaching change but beat out Tyler Lytle in a “very, very close” competition according to Dorrell. He played back up safety last year under current Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker.

“It wasn’t like Sam was light years ahead of Tyler,” Dorrell said. “It was really close. We went with Sam mainly because he’s able to function a little more seamlessly with the offense. Tyler was closely second on that, but that was the determining factor.”

Noyer has limited experience at quarterback only appearing in eight games and completed 21 passes in 41 attempts for 179 yards, no touchdowns two interceptions. His last appearance was in 2018 against Utah in relief of Steven Montez.

For UCLA, it’s all whether or not its young players have improved and to what extent. Massive improvements are needed on the defensive side of the ball, where the Bruins ranked 113th in total defense. With 10 of the top 13 tacklers back for the Bruins, they certainly come back experienced.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson comes into the season as one of the more experienced starters in the conference with already two years under his belt. Last year, DTR saw massive improvements throwing for 2,701 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. DTR is also incredibly dangerous with his legs, adding 198 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

With a less than satisfying record of 7-17 through two years at UCLA and an annual salary of $3.5 million, head coach Chip Kelly is in a prove-it year to show Bruin that he is still committed to coaching winning football at the collegiate level.


With a limited amount of time to get ready and all the craziness that the pandemic has brought, the quality of football and the conditioning of the players is definitely the biggest question mark coming into the season. The higher elevation of Boulder, Colorado should be an advantage in this case for the Buffs.

Dorrell is going to be successful at Colorado, but his success will not start against his former team. UCLA has more experience in the positions that matter, and DTR is going to be a huge factor in the game. All the turnover at Colorado is going to take a few games to nail everything down and get the program into a rhythm.

A big win against a conference opponent will certainly cool Kelly’s hot seat a little, and it will feel even better for Bruin fans to get a win against a former coach, whose time at UCLA has been quite the debate among fans.

FINAL SCORE: UCLA 35, Colorado 20

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