The Quest for Six Wins and a Bowl Bid – Part II

The first half of the season lays out in a pattern upon which many in the Buff Nation can agree.

There are games Colorado should win (must win to have any chance at a bowl bid) against Colorado State, Idaho State, and Oregon State.

Then there are three road games which most would agree that the Buffs are going to lose – at Michigan; at Oregon; and at USC.

That leaves Colorado with a 3-3 (1-2) record at the midway point of the season, looking to go at least 3-3 the remainder of the way in order to secure a bowl bid and a potential winning season.

The discussion of the first half of the season can be found here.

As to the second half …


October 15th – Arizona State

Sun Devils in 2015 … 6-7 (4-5)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 6-6, 4-5 (4th in Pac-12 South), ranked No. 45 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 45 nationally (4th in Pac-12 South); Phil Steele: No. 37 nationally (4th in the Pac-12 South); ESPN: Projected wins: 5.7 (5th in Pac-12 South)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 4th in Pac-12 South

Here’s where the debate over CU’s 2016 season really begins.

Colorado is 0-7 all-time against Arizona State (making the Buffs 0-17 all-time against back-to-back opponents USC and Arizona State), and haven’t looked particularly good in some of those games. Last October, the Buffs traveled to Tempe and were trampled by the Sun Devils, 48-23.

After the game against Colorado, however, Arizona State’s 2015 season went south. The Sun Devils lost their next three games, and five of their final seven, to finish with a losing season both overall and in Pac-12 play. Other than a 27-17 win over Washington, Arizona State gave up at least 34 points to every opponent in the second half of the campaign (giving up an average of 39.7 points per game over the final seven contests).

Under head coach Todd Graham, the Sun Devils have made a living out of trying to out-score opponents. This season, however, Arizona State (and I love this stat) is the only FBS school in the country without a quarterback who has thrown a pass at the D-1 level. The Sun Devils will also have to start the season without four starters from last year’s offensive line.

On defense, the Sun Devils allowed 337.8 yards passing per game … the worst in school history and the worst in the country.

So, what’s not to like about facing Arizona State? Well, there is that 0-7 all-time record, and the 48-23 score from last season.

If Colorado is going to go bowling in 2016, though, some streaks need to be broken.

The first one is here.

Prediction: Win. 4-3 (2-2).


October 22nd – at Stanford

Cardinal in 2015 … 12-2 (8-1)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 9-3, 6-3 (2nd in Pac-12 North), ranked No. 12 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 10 nationally (1st in Pac-12 North); Phil Steele: No. 7 nationally (1st in Pac-12 North); ESPN: Projected wins: 7.8 (2nd in Pac-12 North)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 1st in Pac-12 North; Pac-12 champion

Not much to be said about this one. Stanford took care of business against Colorado in Boulder last season, humbling the Buffs, 42-10.

While Colorado could be riding some momentum heading into the game in Palo Alto in late October, but it’s not going to be enough. Christian McCaffrey will likely have another big game against the flagship school from his home state.

The best chance for CU keeping this one close?

The game for Stanford is sandwiched between road games at Notre Dame and at Arizona. If the Cardinal is looking past the Buffs …


Prediction: Loss. 4-4 (2-3).


November 3rd (Thursday) – UCLA

Bruins in 2015 … 8-5 (5-4)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 9-4, 7-2 (1st in Pac-12 South); ranked No. 15 nationally; Lindy’s No. 23 nationally (2nd in Pac-12 South); Phil Steele’s: No. 16 nationally (2nd in Pac-12 South); ESPN: Projected wins: 8.2 (2nd in Pac-12 South)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 1st in Pac-12 South.

This one has “signature win” written all over it …

– The game will be played on a Thursday night, before a national television audience on Fox Sports. What better time to reintroduce the CU football program to the nation?

– Colorado has come painfully close to defeating UCLA the last two seasons, falling at home in overtime in 2014, 40-37, and then on the road last fall, 35-31. The Buffs are due.

– UCLA is, once again, a highly rated team in the preseason (see above), but has a tendency to underachieve once the season begins.

If the weather is right on November 3rd (that is to say, not cold enough to keep the fans away, but cold enough to have the Bruins complaining about the temperature), this could be the upset win CU fans have been waiting for since Mike MacIntyre came to Boulder.

That being said, quarterback Josh Rosen is back, and he has plenty of talented skill position players with which to work. The Bruins also have eight starters back on defense, with seven seniors and four juniors in the projected starting lineup.

If my predictions for the first eight games hold, and CU is 4-4 come November, I like the Buffs’ chances in this one. In August, though, this still seems like to hard a win to project.

Prediction: Loss. 4-5 (2-4).


November 12th – at Arizona

Wildcats in 2015 … 7-6, 3-5

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 6-6, 4-5 (5th in Pac-12 South), ranked No. 50 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 47 nationally (5th in Pac-12 South); Phil Steele’s: No. 52 nationally (6th in Pac-12 South); ESPN: Projected wins: 7.3 (3rd in Pac-12 South)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 4th in the Pac-12 South

It’s hard to get a handle on the Arizona Wildcats.

Last season, the Wildcats fell to 7-6, just a season removed from winning the Pac-12 South.

This summer, the Wildcats are projected to finish anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the division, and with their schedule, it’s easy to see why there is reason for both optimism and consternation.

Arizona starts the season with four – count ’em, four – home games (okay, so the opener against BYU is in Glendale … I’m calling that a home game). If Arizona can start strong – which would include wins over BYU and Washington – the real test begins. Back-to-back road games against UCLA and Utah followed by back-to-back home games against USC and Stanford will decide Arizona’s fate. Either the Wildcats will take on Boulder as Pac-12 contenders … or exposed pretenders.

Colorado will have a few extra days (after the Thursday night game against UCLA) to prepare for this game. If Colorado is going to win a road game in 2016, it’s going to be this one.

What the hell …

Prediction: Win. 5-5 (3-4).


November 19th – Washington State

Cougars in 2015 … 9-4, 6-3

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 8-4, 5-4 (4th in Pac-12 North) ranked No. 30 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 26 nationally (4th in the Pac-12 North); Phil Steele’s: No. 48 nationally (4th in Pac-12 North); ESPN: Projected wins: 6.6 (4th in the Pac-12 North)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 4th in the Pac-12 North

Colorado has only three Pac-12 wins in the past three seasons, with one of them coming against Washington State in 2012. After a two-year hiatus, the teams met up again in Pullman last November, with Washington State making the Buffs look bad in a 27-3 victory.

The Cougars finished the 2015 season with a 9-4 record, including wins on the road against Oregon and UCLA and a bowl win over Miami.

Much is expected of Washington State this season, with the Luke Falk to Gabe Marks connection returning to set new passing records.

As will be the case with Arizona, much will be known about the Cougars by the time Washington State comes to Boulder in mid-November. An October trifecta of Oregon, Stanford and UCLA will either set the Cougars up for a title run, or put them in the same boat as the Buffs … maneuvering for a bowl bid with only a pair of games remaining.

If the location of the Arizona and Washington State games were reversed (as they will be in 2017, with CU getting Arizona at home and traveling to play Washington State), the games would be an easier call, as Washington State is a better team than is Arizona. It would be easier to forecast the Buffs defeating the Wildcats, and then falling to the Cougars

I can’t see Colorado beating both Arizona and Washington State this November … but I don’t see them losing both games, either. Since I picked the Buffs over the Wildcats …

Prediction: Loss. 5-6 (3-5).


November 26th – Utah 

Utes in 2015 … 10-3, 6-3

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 8-4, 5-4 (3rd in Pac-12 South), ranked No. 32 nationally; Lindy’s No. 32 nationally (3rd in Pac-12 South); Phil Steele’s: No. 33 nationally (3rd in Pac-12 South); ESPN: Projected wins: 6.7 (4th in Pac-12 South)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 3rd in Pac-12 South

It almost has to come down to this … a home game against Utah, with a win necessary to secure a sixth win and a bowl bid.

Utah is yet another hard-to-figure team this fall. The Utes won ten games last season, and tied USC for first in the Pac-12 South. Yet no one is really talking about Utah being a contender for the division crown in 2016.

Perhaps it is because quarterback Travis Wilson has finally used up his seven years of eligibility.

Perhaps it is because the Utes do not return a single receiver with more than 18 catches.

Perhaps it is because Utah is woefully inexperienced and thin at linebacker.

The thing is … the season sets up well for Utah to have another successful season.

If the Utes can handle BYU in the Holy War in Week Two, Utah could be bowl-eligible by mid-October. The Utes’ first three road games are against San Jose State, Cal, and Oregon State … all likely wins. Utah also gets USC, Washington, and Oregon at home.

Both teams could have a great deal to play for Thanksgiving weekend. Utah could even be playing for the Pac-12 South title.

But the Buffs will be playing for so much more. If Colorado has five wins heading into the finale, the Buff Nation will show up in full voice to carry the team to its sixth win and a bowl bid.

The win will propel the Buffs to a top 30 recruiting Class, and an eight-win season in a 2017 season with a likely 3-0 non-conference schedule (CSU, Texas State, Northern Colorado) and a Pac-12 slate with no Stanford and no Oregon.

Prediction: Win 6-6 (4-5).

So let it be written.

So let it be done.




5 Replies to “Quest for Six – Part II”

  1. Just wanted to revisit this prediction to ground myself and get some reflection a few games into the 2017 season. First world problems indeed. Thanks for archiving.

  2. Buffs are due against UCLA, they will find a way. Same with AZ. At least 7-5. Washington State is a toss-up IMO. They have a great QB but Leach, other than the last game against CU, has struggled against the Buffs. Leavitt and the secondary will be ready for this one. OK, I won’t be on the fence, I will chug the Koolaid and move from 7-5 to 8-4. I will be fine with 6-6, too, just bowl, baby, bowl and lock in a great recruiting class.

  3. Whoa there Big Buffalo.

    Let me recap this:

    Non-con……………. 2 and 1
    Conference…………..4 and 5

    Can the Buffs win a road game in the Pac? Arizona is the one they MUST win. And Play USC tough. Real tough. They have to and it has to start this year. Next year they have 5 road games.

    The Mighty Buffs will not lose to WSU. Leavitt will make sure of that. And it won’t be an offense run by Lindgren. Calling the plays and announcing the plays are two different things. He will be announcing the plays. It will be the pirate who will have to keep up with the Chiv.

    UCLA is ripe for a Mighty Buff picking. In fact the Buffs could slaughter them Bruins. Tide is turning. Write it down.

    I’m saying it will be

    Non con……………….2-1

    Now start slurping

  4. Stuart, I imagine they would expect a CSU win (though they never come easy), and certainly an easy win over Idaho State. I hope CU has the Michigan game red lettered on their schedule, it ought to be treated like the superbowl. Push all the chips to the middle of the table, CU will not get a bigger chance at a turn around game. Those players should have the same distain for the maze and blue that they used to for the red N, because a win in that game might be one of the biggest in its history.

  5. Rosen has the Sophmore slump with the new offense and CU picks up a win there. I actually like that scenario better than CU beating Arizona on the road. That or Washington State at home. CU is just a much better team at home. I have a theory.

    If CU beats CSU by 21picks up wins against 4 of the 5 middle of the Pac12 teams (Arizone, ASU, Washington State, Utah, and UCLA). I include UCLA as I think They are going to have issues this year. And they pick up 1 surprise win to win 7 before blowing their bowl opponent out.

    If Cu beats CSU by 10 – 20 picks up 3 wins agianst the middle of the pack, go to a bowl and win solidly.

    If CU beat CSU by 4-9 points, it all goes into the Utah game and the Buffs finally make it over the hump win 6 and get to a bowl. Who cares if they win.

    If Cu squeaks by CSU then we are in for another loosing season, miss a bowl and Leavitt is announced as head coach shortly after the loss to Utah.

    If CSU actually beats CU Leavitt is the interim head coach by the 6th game. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes to see if he keeps it.

    As for me, I am saving vacation time to head to the bowl this year.

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