Breaking down the on-field matchups for UCLA (3-5, 3-2) vs. Colorado (3-5, 1-4) on Saturday at the Rose Bowl at 6 p.m. (TV: Pac-12 Networks, Radio: 570).
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez vs. the UCLA defense. The Bruins won’t get the benefit of facing a freshman quarterback in this one after winning back-to-back matchups against Stanford’s Jack West and Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels. Montez, a fifth-year senior, is about as grizzled as players come at the college level. The dual-threat quarterback accounted for 369 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last week against USC and is just the second player in school history to top 9,000 yards of total offense. His top target is Laviska Shenault, whose 172 receiving yards against the Trojans gave him the seventh 100-yard game in his career.
UCLA (404.0 ypg/29.1 ppg): All the trends are pointed upward for the Bruins. Their running game has become the best in the Pac-12 and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is now known more for his production than his upside. UCLA has averaged 488.4 yards over its last five games after averaging just 263.3 in its first three.
Colorado (421.8 ypg/27.1 ppg): Why would you punt? The Buffaloes led USC for 42:34 thanks to a humming offense that coach Mel Tucker took off the field by punting at the Trojans’ 38-yard line with a three-point lead and 6:23 left in the game. It was a losing strategy after USC took the ball and drove for the winning score in a 35-31 triumph.
UCLA (450.1 ypg/34.3 ppg): The Bruins were stout against Arizona State until putting the game out of reach, holding the Sun Devils to 10 points and 244 yards of offense through the first three quarters. UCLA will be without defensive back Jay Shaw for the first half after he was called for targeting last week.
Colorado (486.9 ypg/34.9 ppg): The Buffaloes have been consistently bad in this department, allowing at least 30 points in all eight games. A big part of the problem has been explosive plays; Colorado has allowed 49 plays of 20 yards or more, with 18 going for touchdowns.
Colorado kicker James Stefanou, 32, and UCLA punter Wade Lees, 31, are the second- and third-oldest players in major college football, trailing only Colorado State defensive back Joshua Griffin, 33. Stefanou and Lees are good friends who both hail from Melbourne and came to the United States after working with Prokick Australia.
UCLA has gone 4-1 against Colorado at the Rose Bowl, winning all four games since Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011.
UCLA defensive lineman Elijah Wade and safety Quentin Lake appear doubtful based on their limited participation in practice this week. … Colorado’s injury woes have forced the Buffaloes to start 36 players on offense and defense.