I Want to Be Spoiled Again
They are back there. Way back there, tucked away deep in the recesses of my memory.
But they are there.
Memories of the days in the early to mid-90′s, when Colorado was on a run of eight straight years of being ranked in the national polls.
I remember writing out, on a legal pad, the weekly Associated Press poll. There was a column for that week’s rankings, then a column of the opponent each ranked team was playing that week. Using this (now) seemingly archaic system, I was able to track the games being played by the teams ranked above CU, as well as the games of those teams who were ranked below. Each weekend, I would post the results of each top 25 game, so that would be better able to predict where CU would be ranked the following week.
I actually remember lamenting, when CU was entrenched in the top ten for much of the mid-90′s, not having more relevant games to track. CU was ranked so high that the vast majority of games being played across the country that weekend simply had no bearing on the future of my Buffs.
I want to be that spoiled again.
There was a taste of being spoiled – just a taste – as Colorado was defeating Charleston-Southern, 43-10.
The score should have been enough. The 33-point win was the greatest margin for CU in six seasons, going back to the 42-0 shutout of Miami (Ohio) in 2007. The Buffs went for 416 total yards against Charleston-Southern, to just 196 for the Buccaneers. Freshman Michael Adkins posted a school record by scoring four touchdowns in his debut. Fellow freshman Sefo Liufau won his debut as the starting quarterback, passing for almost 200 yards with one touchdown – and no turnovers. The defense allowed all of 46 yards, and only two first downs, in shutting out CSU in the second half.
It was, overall, a good team victory over a ranked FCS team.
But I wanted more.
Perhaps if the game’s halves had been reversed, I would have been more pleased. Perhaps if Colorado had posted a dominating 21-0 first half, then allowing Charleston-Southern to piece together not one, but two, nine-minute drives in the second half, a 22-10 second half would have been more tolerable.
Who am I kidding?
If the Buffs had been up 21-0 at halftime, I would have been wondering why it wasn’t 28-0 or 31-0. I would have wanted the Buffs to post a shutout in the second half as well.
But now, as the Buffs hit the midway point of the 2013 season, it’s time for yet another in what is seemingly a long string of reality checks for the Buff Nation.
The fact is, CU fans should be pleased with what Mike MacIntyre are piecing together with teaching of the basics, inspiration – and duct tape.
Colorado is 3-3 on the 2013 season. Yes, it is true that, had an undefeated Fresno State team come to Boulder instead of an undefeated Charleston-Southern team, the results would likely have been quite different.
But the change in schedule was not of the doing of these coaches or these players. They have played the schedule put before them, and, unlike CU teams of the recent past, have won the games they were supposed to win.
The Buffs could have won the games against Colorado State and Sacramento State to open last season, but failed in both attempts.
The Buffs could have lost the games against Colorado State and Central Arkansas to open this season, but rallied to win both games.
At times, the game against Charleston-Southern was not pretty.
It is inexcusable for the CU defense to give up not one, but two nine-minute drives to an FCS offense utilizing a third-string quarterback. But the CU defense came to play in the second half, and that dominating performance is something to build upon.
It is hard to watch when the CU offense spends much of its time running up the middle into a pile of players which is supposed to represent a hole, or throwing to the sidelines on most plays instead of throwing downfield. But the CU offense, with a freshman quarterback and a freshman running back, had no turnovers, and posted over 200 yards rushing and 43 points, which is something to build upon.
It is unfortunate that CU special teams play has not generated much in the way of positive yards for the team. But, with little notice or fanfare, the special teams play is much improved these past few games - that is to say, not making huge gaffes and giving up huge returns – which is something to build upon.
All this will be necessary to comfort us over the second half of the season, as the Buffs, a 31-point favorite against the Buccaneers, may not be favored again this fall.
Bowl talk is a discussion best left for this next off-season, when a light non-conference schedule in 2014 - Colorado State (3-4), at Massachusetts (1-6) and Hawai’i (0-6) – might give rise to serious consideration for post-season play.
Can the Buffs find a way to go 3-3 in their last six games, and qualify for a bowl this year?
It’s possible, but not likely.
Let’s rate the remaining schedule:
October 26th – Arizona … Odds of winning: 25% … The Wildcats are 4-2, 1-2 in Pac-12 play. Had Arizona fallen to Utah Saturday night, this might have been a 50/50 game. Then Arizona would have been, like Colorado, 3-3, with all three wins coming in non-conference play. Instead, Arizona took out Utah, 35-24, with Ka’Deem Carey going for 236 yards on 40 carries. You remember Ka’Deem Carey, don’t you? He was the guy who ran for a Pac-12 record 366 yards against Colorado last fall. Ouch.
November 2nd – at UCLA … Odds of winning: 10% … UCLA lost its first game of the season Saturday, falling to Stanford, 24-10. The Bruins now must go on the road to face Oregon before returning home to take on the Buffs. The fact that UCLA will be coming off of those two tough road games (with another road game against Arizona to follow) might be the only reason this game could be kept reasonably close.
November 9th – at Washington … Odds of winning: 10% … Washington was spanked by Arizona State Saturday, 53-24, falling behind 29-7 at halftime (so perhaps the Buffs’ blowout loss to the Sun Devils wasn’t quite as bad as previously thought). The Huskies opened the season 4-0, but have since lost their last three games. The next two games are “make you feel better about yourselves” home games against Cal and Colorado, with the CU game coming off of a bye week. Washington will be looking past Colorado to their next game, a road tilt against UCLA, but probably not enough to keep this one close.
November 16th – Cal … Odds of winning: 50% … Depending on how the Buffs hold up in the three games leading up to this contest, this is likely the most winnable game on the remaining schedule. Under first year head coach Sonny Dykes, the Bears have struggled. Cal is the only other team in the Pac-12 without a league victory, with the Bears’ only victory in seven tries coming against Portland State in week two (and that was by a score of 37-30). The Bears will face Washington, USC and Arizona before facing CU, and could come to Boulder in mid-November on an eight game losing streak. This could well be win No. 4.
November 23rd – USC … Odds of winning: 33% … Colorado has never defeated USC, and, at the beginning of the season, did not appear to have a chance at changing that fact this fall. The Trojans are only 4-3 so far this season, however, and USC has several tough games to play before traveling to Folsom Field in late November, including a road trip to Corvallis, and a home game against Stanford. All the Trojans will have left on the schedule before playing CU will be a rivalry game against UCLA. Perhaps the combination of a tough year, some bad November weather, and a motivated CU team, will give the Buffs a chance at an upset.
November 30th – at Utah … Odds of winning: 25% … This is the true wildcard in the deck, as so much football will be played before this game which will have a bearing on the odds for this contest. Utah was flying high after upsetting Stanford, but fell in the desert to Arizona. Three of Utah’s four games before facing the Buffs are on the road, including road games at USC and at Oregon. The 4-3 Utes might still be looking for bowl eligibility themselves when CU comes back to the site of its lone road conference victory in 2011.
So … The Buffs are 3-3 to open the Mike MacIntyre era, but are not likely to post a similar mark in the second half of his first year.
But it is still nice to be at .500 for another week.
Few fans remember, but it took awhile for Bill McCartney to push his record past .500 once and for all. He won his second game as CU’s head coach, against Washington State on the road, to push his 1982 record to 1-1. McCartney, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this December, would not see the positive side of .500 in his career … until the middle of the 1989 season.
We were so spoiled in the 1990′s. It’s hard to remember sometimes what we had to go through before getting to the glory days.
Colorado won by 33 points against Charleston-Southern … and I wasn’t satisfied.
I look forward to being similarly spoiled in the not to distant future …