The Quest for “Six”

Colorado fans aren’t asking for a trip to the College Football Playoffs in 2016.

They aren’t talking about possible opponents for the Pac-12 championship game.

They just want six wins and a bowl bid … any bowl bid.

Las Vegas Bowl? Great. Cactus Bowl? Sign us up.

Head coach Mike MacIntyre, his coaching staff and players, indeed the entire Buff Nation is just looking for six wins and a bowl invitation … any invitation. Hell, at this point the Buffs would take the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (yes, that’s a real thing). Anything to end the bowl drought at eight straight, and the losing season skid at ten.

Unfortunately, the schedule calls for ten games against teams which did go bowling last fall.

The Buffs are improving. There seems to be general consensus upon that point. But can the Buffs find their way to six wins in 2016?

Let’s break down the quest for six …

September 2nd (Friday) … Colorado State

Rams in 2015 … 7-6 (5-3)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 6-6, 4-4; No. 89 nationally (4th in Mountain West Mountain Division); Lindy’s: No. 87 nationally (4th in Mountain Division); Phil Steele: No. 97 nationally (4th in Mountain Division); ESPN: Projected wins: 5.5 (5th in Mountain Division)

Mountain West preseason media poll … 4th in the Mountain West Mountain Division

How important is the 2016 Rocky Mountain Showdown to the Buffs’ chances at a bowl bid?

Try “the countdown to the end of the Mike MacIntyre era has begun” if the Buffs lose.

One of the three games the Buffs are currently favored to win this fall, the matchup in Denver is vital. Colorado is listed as a nine-point favorite, and the signs are positive for a Buff victory.

Colorado State does have its starting quarterback, Nick Stevens, returning, but also lost its all-time leading receiver in Rashard Higgins. Most of the offensive line is back, as is Dalyn Dawkins, a former Purdue transfer who led the team in rushing with 867 yards last season.

The real question marks for the Rams come on defense, where the linebackers return … but that’s about it. The entire defensive line must be replaced, along with three quarters of the defensive backfield. “On paper, I would say it’s a rebuilding year because of the experience we lost up front and in the secondary, but I don’t like to use that word,” said CSU head coach Mike Bobo. “We’ve got what we’ve got”.

The problem, of course, remains the same as always … playing the Rams the first game of the season. Giving “little brother” a full month to prepare for the game is asinine, and makes for games which are closer than they might otherwise be.

And this September there will be an additional chip on little brother’s shoulders. The Big 12 is expected to make its announcement concerning expansion before the start of the season, and the outcome will affect the Rams’ psyche. Should the Rams be left out the Power Five club yet again, the Rams will want to beat the Buffs to show they belong with the big boys. If the Rams do receive an invitation, the CSU fans – intolerable in most years – will be flush with pride (and will likely sell an extra 5,000 tickets to the game).

The Buffs need to tune out the noise and get the job done. With a lineup filled with upperclassmen, there are no more excuses.

Prediction: Win. 1-0.


September 10th … Idaho State

Bengals in 2015 … 2-9 (1-7)

Big Sky Conference preseason media poll … 11th (out of 13 teams); Bengals were picked 12th in the coaches’ poll.

Idaho State is not only an FCS team, its a lousy FCS team.

The Bengals won two games in 2015 … over Black Hills State and North Dakota.

Idaho State will come to Boulder in September with a 1-0 record, but only because the Bengals open the 2016 season against the Clansmen of Simon Fraser.

We could go through the deficiencies on the Bengals’ roster, but if the Buffs need to spend too much time analyzing this game, there will be no chance of defeating another team the remainder of the season.

Prediction: Win. 2-0.


September 17th – at Michigan

Wolverines in 2015 … 10-3 (6-2)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 11-1, 8-1 (2nd in Big Ten East) Ranked No. 5 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 7 nationally (2nd in Big Ten East); Phil Steele: No. 13 nationally (2nd in Big Ten East); ESPN: Projected wins: 10.0 (1st in Big Ten East); ranked No. 20 nationally

Big Ten preseason media poll … 2nd in Big Ten East Division

Oh, if we could only trade the 2017 non-conference schedule for this one. Next fall, the Buffs, after opening against Colorado State, host Texas State and Northern Colorado. A 3-0 start (not to mention no Stanford or Oregon on the conference slate) would give the Buffs a great leg up on getting to six wins.

Instead of facing the UNC Bears in Week Three of the season, the Buffs will travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan. The Wolverines are ranked in most preseason polls, and are in little danger of losing either of their first two games (against Hawai’i and Central Florida).

Michigan will be breaking in a new quarterback, but there are few other question marks in the roster. The defense (6th in nation in scoring defense; 4th in the nation in total defense last season) will be a force. It will be tough for the Colorado offense to score enough to keep up in the Big House.

Prediction: Loss. 2-1.


September 24th – at Oregon

Ducks in 2015 … 9-4 (7-2)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 8-4, 5-4 (3rd in Pac-12 North), ranked No. 24 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 24 nationally (3rd in Pac-12 North); Phil Steele: No. 21 nationally (3rd in Pac-12 North); ESPN: Projected wins: 7.3 (3rd in Pac-12 North); ranked No. 20 nationally

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

I do not make my living judging collegiate talent, but I can say this after watching Dakota Prokup play for my hometown Montana State Bobcats the past few seasons.

Dakota Prokup, the latest quarterback for hire who has found his way to Eugene, is no Marcus Mariota.

From my perspective, Prokup is no Vernon Adams, either.

While Prokup may not be as good as the former Eastern Washington quarterback who took over the reins last year, he does not have to be for the Ducks to be successful.

Oregon has a legitimate Heisman trophy candidate in running back Royce Freeman, and will have former Michigan coach Brady Hoke trying to return the defense to respectability.

Colorado has improved the past few seasons, and Oregon has stepped back the past few seasons … but the gap is still significant.

Prediction: Loss. 2-2 (0-1)


October 1st – Oregon State

Beavers in 2015 … 2-10 (0-9)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 2-10, 1-8 (6th in Pac-12 North), ranked No. 90 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 76 nationally (6th in Pac-12 North); Phil Steele: No. 94 nationally (6th in Pac-12 North); ESPN: Projected wins: 3.8 (6th in Pac-12 North)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 6th in Pac-12 North

Colorado has won exactly one Pac-12 game in the past two seasons, a 17-13 road victory over Oregon State last fall.

For the Buffs to get to six wins and a bowl game in 2016, the Buffs have to pick up four Pac-12 wins.

No game on the conference schedule sets up as well as the Family Weekend home game against the Beavers. Oregon State opens on the road against Minnesota, then gets an unusual sixteen day break before taking on Idaho State (the week after the Bengals take on the Buffs). The Beavers then get another tough opponent, Boise State, before taking on Colorado.

Oregon State could well be 1-2 coming to Boulder, staring up at another winless Pac-12 conference slate.

The Buffs, coming off games on the road against Michigan and Oregon, will be desperate for a win to open the month of October. To get to six wins, this is a must.

Prediction: Win. 3-2 (1-1).


October 8th – at USC

Trojans in 2015 … 8-6 (6-3)

Projections for 2016 … Athlon: 8-4, 6-3 (2nd in Pac-12 South), No. 23 nationally; Lindy’s: No. 17 nationally (1st in Pac-12 South); Phil Steele: No. 15 nationally (1st in Pac-12 South); ESPN: Projected wins: 8.8 (1st in Pac-12 South)

Pac-12 preseason media poll … 2nd in Pac-12 South

Colorado is 0-10 all-time against USC, and faces a road trip to the Coliseum in its quest for its first-ever win over the Trojans.

The Buffs have had their chances in the series, none better than last year. Colorado held a 17-3 late in the first half, only to fall in the end, 27-24.

There are many opinions about the 2016 Trojans, with questions as to whether head coach Clay Helton was the right choice to stay on as the USC coach. The talent is always there … but will the roster produce victories?

We’ll know much more about the Trojans by the time they get to Boulder. By early October, they will have faced Alabama, Stanford, and Utah … all on the road.

If the Trojans are undefeated when comes calling October 8th, they will be a top five team nationally.

If the Trojans have three losses already in the books come October 8th, the Buffs might have a chance.

Prediction: Loss. 3-3 (1-2).

If all holds according to form, Colorado will reach the midway point of the 2016 season with a 3-3 record … halfway to six wins. The Buffs will have four home games remaining – Arizona State, UCLA, Washington State and Utah – with at least one winnable road game (against Arizona … the other road game will be against Stanford).

Can the Buffs complete their Quest for “Six”?

A preview of the second half of the season will be posted on Tuesday …



6 Replies to “The Quest for “Six””

  1. I agree with these predictions completely. Excited for the upcoming season but I gotta say. No offense to Manuel up there but as someone who has been to every single home game since birth with the exception of one or two due to high school sports, I am really bothered by all these people that have given up on the buffs. The minute there is even the slightest spark, here they all come running back to Folsom acting like they have been there all along. Regardless, Go Buffs.

  2. I believe in this year’s squad (again barring Sefo injury) and therefore have been thinking this is the year we get our STATEMENT (i.e. cu/nu) win for the next phase of CU football.

    For years we were not big or fast enough to compete. One of the biggest differences in last year’s team was defensively we look to be closing the speed gap, hence a good effort vs. traditional ‘spread’ teams i.e. Oregon, Utah, UCLA.

    The top recruits/teams have speed AND size, our guys are getting bigger but are not quite ready to compete vs. the traditional ‘power’ teams i.e. Stanford, USC and therefore I agree with the loss at Michigan.

    So I’m looking for the statement win in Eugene for all the reasons Stuart outlined (I actually like it more since he provides 1st hand look on QB), plus they are the one team that is cocky enough to overlook us purely based on history alone. 4-2 going into the 2nd half!

    Shoulder to Shoulder

  3. I am getting excited about this season for the first time in a long while. I had season tickets and let them go several years ago. I recently met a parent of a player and she told me about the new facilities and the coaches. She was so sincere in her love of the team and for the program. It had me pumped up. I am getting a group together for the Rocky Mountain Showdown and making plans to travel to a game. It is the time for this team to explode. GO BUFFS

  4. Its all on the O and only part of it is on the O line. Will Chev have any real input in Lindgren’s play calling? Leavitt’s D will be up to the task.

  5. Nice write up. I agree with these predictions and 3-3 at midpoint. Look forward to your second half analysis. Go Buffs!!!

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