After a disappointing 2017 season in which the Buffaloes finished in dead last in the Pac-12 South, things have seemed to have changed – Colorado is now undefeated through four games and have been one of the biggest surprises in college football. On Saturday, they’ll face the Arizona State Sun Devils; rivals in the Pac-12 South. Here’s what the now No. 21-ranked Buffs must do if they want to make it to 5-0.

Proving themselves

With 4-0 start, this is the best that Colorado has started since 1998. They have showed off a potent offense – their 489.8 yards per game which is ranked second in the Pac-12 –  their defense has shown up and they have been attacking their opponents early and often, but there are still questions regarding whether this Colorado team is for real. It’s hard to say this early; Colorado is the only team in the Pac-12 without a loss, but they’ve had the nation’s weakest schedule to date – their opponents have a combined 1-16 total record. Arizona State seems to be Colorado’s first big test. How the Buffs answer those doubters is a statement within itself.

Steven Montez limits turnovers

One of the big knocks on junior quarterback Montez’s game prior to the season was his decision-making and turnovers. This season, however, Montez has been as good as advertised. He has an TD-to-interception ratio of 9-to-2 and has limited his mistakes while doing so. Montez has completed 75 percent which leads all Pac-12 quarterbacks as far as efficiency goes. He also has already thrown for about 1,100 yards and has nine touchdowns on the year. If he gets off to yet another great start on an Arizona State defense that has been playing well to start the year, he will continue to earn national attention. Montez remains the Buffs’ most important player and he has been playing like a true MVP for the team.

Stopping the run

It was believed that life after Phillip Lindsay would be horrible, but it hasn’t been that bad. Yes, the team misses him dearly, especially for his leadership, but graduate transfer Travon McMillan has come in and excelled. He ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game (98.0) and has four touchdowns to go along with it. He has 392 yards on the season already, and when he is running the ball well, it makes it that much easier for Montez in play-action.

As good as McMillan has looked, the Buffs’ defense will face the best running back they have gone up against thus far in the season. ASU running back Eno Benjamin was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after his record-setting performance over Oregon State on Saturday. The sophomore rushed for a school record 312 yards on 30 carries and scored four touchdowns on the day. If the Buffs plan to win the game, they will have to put an emphasis on stopping the run – Benjamin can change the game single-handedly if he gets loose.

Battle of the vertical game

Buffaloes WR Laviska Shenault Jr. has been a pleasant surprise, and has made national news with how he has performed early on. The 6-2, 220-pound sophomore has 38 receptions for 581 yards to go along with four touchdowns and leads the entire FBS with an average of 145.3 receiving yards per game. He also ranks first nationally in catches per game (9.5) and has been a consistent force for the Buffs. Limiting his production is a tall task, and he’s certainly at the top of the Sun Devils’ to-do list.

On the other side of the ball is a receiver who has been nearly as dominant in N’Keal Harry. Harry is coming into the game, chasing not only going after a win, but team records as well. He needs 57 yards to move into eighth place on the Sun Devils’ career receiving list. In five games this year, he has 419 yards and five touchdowns and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in total yardage The Sun Devils have the personnel to upset the Buffaloes, but if Colorado finds a way to stop the pass, they will have a good chance at remaining undefeated, and climbing the Top 25 ranks.