“Games that matter are played in November” …

… Remember when that was true in Boulder?

Wasn’t is just two weeks ago, on the heels of an upset win over Kansas, that the Buffs, with a 1-1 Big 12 record, were seen as a player in the Big 12 North race? A winnable road game against a “pretender” Kansas State team, followed by home games against a Missouri team on a three-game conference losing streak and a Texas A&M team picked to finish last in the Big 12 South …


Yeah, so do I.

Now we are two games later, and the Buffs have had two offensive touchdown drives in two games. Colorado has held the lead for all of seven minutes of game time, while trailing for over seven full quarters of play. The Buffs have turned the ball over eight times the past two weeks, and Tyler Hansen has been sacked 12 times. Etc., etc., etc. …

You don’t need me to remind you.

So, other than going out to enjoy a perfect fall afternoon in Boulder, and checking out how many “blue” fans are in the stands, is there any reason to anticipate this weekend’s game against Texas A&M?

You bet.

It’s the last best chance for a victory in 2009.

Let’s see why …

T – Talent

There are two names on the Texas A&M roster which, if you haven’t heard them yet, you will by Saturday. The first is Von Miller. Miller, a junior defensive lineman,  just happens to be leading the nation in sacks. Buff fans know about sacks – Colorado is giving up an average of three per game, 115th in the nation in that category. Miller has 15 sacks all by himself, with the Aggies as a team ranking 14th nationally. Real simple equation for Saturday: If Colorado can’t stop Miller; Colorado can’t win.

The second name Colorado fans may tire of hearing Saturday is that of Jerrod Johnson. The Texas A&M junior quarterback is second in the nation in total offense, generating over 325 yards per game (Cody Hawkins was generating around 180 yards per game; Tyler Hansen is posting even less). Johnson has already generated over 2,500 yards in total offense, with 20 passing touchdowns and only three interceptions (Let’s try that one again – 20 touchdowns; three interceptions!). Oddly enough, all three of Johnson’s interceptions were in the same game, a 62-14 thumping by Kansas State. Second key to success against Texas A&M – get the ball away from Jerrod Johnson.

Overall, Texas A&M is third in the nation in total offense, averaging almost 500 yards per game, and 8th in scoring, coming in at 35.75 ppg.

For Colorado to win, the Buffs will have to out-score the potent Aggie offense.

(As soon as you stop laughing, we’ll move on … )

I – Intangibles

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” … perhaps Janis Joplin has given the Buffs a formula for victory. The 2009 season is over; the talk of controlling their own destiny are forgotten; reality has set in. And just when it appeared as if the clouds hanging over the Dal Ward Center could not get any darker, Darrell Scott announces he is leaving. The number one running back recruit of the 2008 high school class is leaving Colorado. Adding insult to injury, Scott might head to UCLA, to join center Kai Maiava and wide receiver/uncle Josh Smith, previous defections from the Hawkins’ locker room (though an article in the L.A. Times discounts the idea. The Bruins have plenty of depth at tailback).

The rumblings about firing the coaching staff have become a full-fledged roar.

What’s left for the Buffs to do?

How’s about having some fun, and letting it all hang out?

“Now are backs are against the wall,” said defensive back Benjamin Burney. “That’s what happens when you put a buffalo against the wall. It’s got to charge out.”

Players know that they may be putting together auditioning tapes for their new coaches. Coaches know that their ability to get production out of their units will factor into their future employment.

When the offense can’t make consisent plays, and the defense gets worn down playing conservatively, why not take chances? Why not give your playmakers the opportunity to make plays? Why not blitz the quarterback?

What’s the worst that can happen? The Buffs get blown out? Been there, done that.

Go out and have some fun. You never know what might happen.

P – Preparation / Schedule

Colorado is going to win – the schedule says so.

Colorado opened up with two losses; followed by a win. Colorado then lost its next two games; followed by a win. Colorado then lost its next two games …

The pattern is even more consistent than that. Colorado, in each of the first games of their three-game series, played poorly against a team which a victory was a realistic opportunity (Colorado State; West Virginia; Kansas State), followed by a loss in which one half of play doomed the Buffs’ chances (Toledo; Texas; Missouri), followed by a win (Wyoming; Kansas; … Texas A&M?).

Okay, other than by way of a Ouija board, what does the schedule show us? Well, Texas A&M is 5-3 on the season, 2-2 in Big 12 play. While catching Texas may not be a reasonable prospect in 2009, the Aggies are certainly in a position to re-establish themselves in the pecking order in the conference. No Big 12 North team has reached bowl-eligibility, and the champion of the North may well have four or five losses. This leaves some good bowl games out there for the second and third place teams in the South. Considering the Aggies sat home last season after a disasterous 4-8 season, and having been picked to finish behind Baylor in the South’s basement, going to a premiere bowl in 2009 must sound pretty good.

There is a chance, a small one, but a chance, that the Texas A&M players may be looking past the Buffs. The Aggies read the internet; they know what has been going on in Boulder. Up next for Texas A&M on the schedule is the final road game of the season – a trip to Norman to face Oklahoma. A win over the Sooners would mean much more to the Aggies than a win over the Buffs.

It’s not much, but it’s all Colorado fans have left …

S – Statistics

… and you thought the Halloween statistics were scary.

Well, it’s another week into the season, and another loss put the Buffs all the further down the statistical charts. Colorado is now 100th or worse in no fewer than seven statistical categories, including rushing offense (114th), total offense (113th), turnover margin (102nd), sacks allowed (115th), and passing efficiency (115th).  Amongst BCS schools, only 1-7 Washington State and 3-5 Virigina are ranked lower in total offense than Colorado. In rushing offense, only Washington State, Texas Tech, and Duke are ranked lower.

So, are there any statistics which favor the Buffs this Saturday? Only in the matchup of the Buffs’ passing offense (such as it is) against the Aggies’ pass defense. Texas A&M is ranked 98th in the nation in pass defense, and is ranked 91st in total defense and 96th in scoring defense. Until Texas A&M held Iowa State to ten points last weekend, the Aggies were giving up an average of 43 points/game in the month of October. Texas A&M has not ridden its defense to a 5-3 record – the Aggies have been out-scoring their opponents.

Two weeks ago, as the Buffs and their fans were basking in the glow of the upset win over Kansas, Texas A&M fans were preparing to burn Mike Sherman in effigy. The Aggies had just been torched by Kansas State, 62-14, and were on a three game losing streak. Texas A&M had three wins, but all were against lesser opponents (New Mexico, UAB, and Utah State). A repeat of the 4-8 record from 2008 seemed likely.

Now, two weeks later, Dan Hawkins is on the roaster, and things are looking up in College Station. Texas A&M shocked rival Texas Tech – in Lubbock – 52-30, and followed up that win with a solid effort against Iowa State. The 5-3 Aggies are in good position to go bowling, and the future again looks bright.

Colorado didn’t get that much worse in the past two weeks, and Texas A&M didn’t get that much better in the past two weeks.

Two months ago, this was a game which Colorado fans circled as a “W” on the schedule. That can still happen …

If the Buff players and coaches can get past the distractions of the past week and play the way they did against Kansas.

Unfortunately, Colorado fans know that, at this point of the season, that is a very big “if” …

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