College Football Betting Odds & Pick: Colorado vs. Arizona (Saturday, Dec.5)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Image. Pictured: Sam Noyer.
- Having lost its starting QB and head coach from last year, Colorado hasn’t missed a beat with new coach Karl Dorrell and QB Sam Noyer.
- Arizona, meanwhile, has lost three straight under Kevin Sumlin and might be without its starting QB for the Buffaloes’ visit to Tucson.
- Darin Gardner explains why he’s targeting the Wildcats’ game total to find betting value in this Pac-12 matchup.
Colorado vs. Arizona Odds
|Colorado Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Arizona Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-275/+210 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||59.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 7 p.m. ET|
Colorado will look to continue its undefeated season in Tucson against the 0-3 Arizona Wildcats on Saturday.
After going 5-7 a season ago and having to replace its head coach and starting quarterback, expectations were low for Colorado heading into the year. However, new head coach Karl Dorrell and quarterback Sam Noyer have been very impressive early on in the season.
Arizona, however, is trending in the opposite direction. The Wildcats have yet to win a game and lost their previous two games by a combined 34 points. To make matters worse, it’s very up in the air as to whether or not quarterback Grant Gunnell will be available on Saturday after suffering a shoulder injury.
I really had no idea what Colorado’s offense would look like this season after it lost quarterback Steven Montez and star receiver Laviska Shenault. After the first three games, the drop-off has not been nearly as significant as expected. The Buffaloes’ offense won’t necessarily blow anyone away, but it’s definitely serviceable.
Noyer is currently the second-highest graded quarterback in the Pac-12, according to Pro Football Focus. He leads an offense that ranks 41st in Touchdown Rate and 43rd in points per drive.
Colorado’s biggest offensive strength this year has simply been that it doesn’t shoot itself in the foot. The Buffaloes own the sixth-lowest turnover rate in the country thus far. They also rank 16th in Sack Rate allowed and 21st in Havoc allowed.
The offense has also been helped out tremendously by the defense and special teams. Colorado has the 15th-best starting field position among all offenses. It’s much easier to consistently put points on the board when starting out in advantageous situations.
Colorado’s defense has quietly been one of the biggest turnarounds of the season. Last season, Colorado’s defense was one of the worst in the country, ranking 125th in Success Rate allowed. So far in 2020, Colorado ranks third in the country in that category.
The unit also ranks ninth in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play allowed and seventh in First-Down Rate. The Buffaloes have been incredibly disruptive, as well, ranking fourth in Havoc rate and busted drive rate defensively.
Colorado has done a particularly good job against the run. The defense currently ranks third in EPA per rush on defense. Keying in on the defensive line, the unit ranks 18th in Line Yards. Arizona’s struggling offense should have a tough time getting anything going on the ground.
The days of Khalil Tate lighting up the scoreboard for Arizona during #Pac12AfterDark are long gone.
It’s tough to find a bright spot for this Arizona offense. It currently ranks 112th in EPA per play, 116th in available yards gained, 121st in Touchdown Rate, and 116th in Sack Rate.
The Wildcats also have the worst average starting field positions in the entire country. When the offense already struggles to move the chains, the team doesn’t want to handicap it even more by making it drive the length of the field every possession.
To make matters worse, Arizona might be starting a true freshman quarterback against a strong Colorado defense on Saturday.
Gunnell was injured in the UCLA game a week ago, which left freshman Will Plummer to fill in. After 76 offensive snaps, Plummer has a 50.5 passing grade, per PFF. To be fair to Plummer, though, Gunnell’s is only 58.0 this year. No matter who is under center for the Wildcats on Saturday, I wouldn’t expect much of an offensive performance.
Unfortunately for Arizona, the defense has struggled just as much as the offense.
The Wildcats are pairing an offense that ranks 112th in EPA per play with a defense that ranks 104th in EPA per play. There are only 11 teams in the country that rank outside of the top 100 in that metric on both sides of the ball, and Arizona is one of them.
Looking at other metrics, Arizona ranks 112th in Success Rate allowed, 125th in First-Down Rate allowed and 123rd in available yards allowed. Additionally, Arizona is unable to create Havoc in any sense.
The Wildcats have not had a non-garbage time sack this season. That is pretty mind-blowing, but what is even worse is that Arizona has not forced a turnover all season long. The defense is incapable of causing any kind of disruption, which is one of the main reasons why it gets torched consistently.
Betting Analysis & Pick
It’s not often that an opening line really shocks me, but it sure did when Colorado opened up as just a 3.5-point favorite. Those numbers are long gone, unfortunately, and it’s now sitting at 7.5 at most places. My numbers have Colorado as an 8.4-point favorite on the road, so it would be tough for me to lay 7.5.
If I were to bet on the game at this point in the week, I would look at the under on the Arizona team total. It’s currently sitting at 25.5 at DraftKings, but try to find a team total at 24.5 if you can get lower juice.
Pick: Arizona Team Total Under 25.5.