Any Given Saturday

It has been a frustrating year for Colorado fans.

At times the Buffs have played well, but at other times – too many other times – the Buffs have looked out-of-sync, unprepared, even indifferent.

Colorado entered the game against California with a 4-4 record … a record which would have been heaven on earth for the Buff Nation a few years ago, but, after a 10-4 campaign in 2016, a real disappointment.

“We still have a lot left to accomplish,” said Phillip Lindsay in the Tuesday press conference leading up to the 44-28 win over the Bears. “For a lot of us, it is the last four or five games left in our college careers, so the sense of urgency is we’ll never play another down in black and gold after these five games. We want to go out with a bang. We want to leave everything out there.”

All well and good, but the Buffs had been promising improvement for weeks, with little to show for it in Pac-12 play.

The Buffs came into the game against Cal off of a 28-0 whipping by No. 15 Washington State. The Buff offense was not only shutout, but were embarrassed, posting only 174 yards. Starting quarterback Steven Montez, who was supposed to have a banner year in 2017, was benched at halftime.

There was some question as to whether Montez would even be the starting quarterback against Cal. Montez not only started against the Bears, he led the Buffs to a convincing 44-28 victory. For the game, Montez had a career best quarterback rating (227.1), completing 20-of-26 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. For good measure, Montez added a seven yard scoring run.

“I was really upset all week,” Montez said. “I just really wanted to get back to the drawing board. I felt like I had let my team down against Washington State. … I felt like I needed to get back and make a statement.”

Overall, the Buffs put forth arguably their best game of the season. The offense posted 553 yards, including 200 on the ground. The defense surrendered 435 yards to the Bears, but 210 of those yards came in the fourth quarter after CU had built a 34-14 lead. Even special teams – James Stefanou was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts; Alex Kinney averaged 49.3 yards on three punts; and the return game was solid – contributed to the victory.

Steven Montez has had good games and lousy games this fall.

Colorado has had good games and lousy games this fall.

And, as much as Buff fans would like to believe that the 44-28 win is a sign of how Colorado will finish out the season, it’s equally likely (if not more so) that the Buffs will have at least one more poor effort.

Here’s the thing … Colorado is not alone in this roller coaster ride of a season.

The Pac-12 as a league has had good teams play poorly, and lousy teams play well.

Any given Saturday, the Buffs could be considered one of the teams in the top half of the Pac-12 … or in the bottom half.

And that’s true for most of the teams in the league.

The website, thespun.com, took the time earlier this week to work through ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) to project how the Pac-12 would play out based upon ESPN’s rating of each team.

The results were telling …

ESPN’s FPI projects every game, based on each team’s percentage chance to win.

  • Arizona, 5-2, is projected to finish 7-5, with wins over Washington State and Oregon State, and losses to USC, Oregon and ASU.
  • Arizona State, 4-3, is projected to finish 7-5, with wins over Colorado, Oregon State and Arizona, and losses to USC and UCLA.
  • Cal, 4-4, is projected to finish 5-7, with the lone win coming against Oregon State.
  • Colorado, 4-4, is projected to finish 5-7, with the lone win coming against Cal.
  • Oregon, 4-4, is projected to finish 7-5, winning three of their last four versus Utah, Arizona and Oregon State.
  • Oregon State, 1-7, is projected to finish 1-11, losing out the rest of the season to Cal, Arizona, ASU and Oregon.
  • Stanford, 6-2, is projected to finish 8-4, with wins over WSU and Cal, but with losses to Notre Dame and Washington.
  • UCLA, 4-3, is projected to finish 7-5, with wins over Utah, ASU and Cal, but with losses to Washington and USC.
  • USC, 6-2, is projected to finish 10-2, winning out the rest of the season versus ASU, Arizona, Colorado and UCLA.
  • Utah, 4-3, is projected to finish 5-7, with the lone win coming against Colorado.
  • Washington, 6-1, is projected to finish 11-1, winning out the rest of the season versus UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Washington State and Utah.
  • Washington State, 7-1, is projected to finish 8-4, with the lone win coming against Utah and losses to Arizona, Stanford and Washington.

So, for those scoring at home, the FPI projections went 6-0 this weekend.

If the projections hold, the Pac-12 will finish the season with seven teams with either a 7-5 record or a 5-7 record.

That’s a whole lot of mediocrity.

That’s also a whole lot of guesswork as to which teams will have the ball bounce their way, and qualify for a bowl, and as to which teams will have the ball bounce against them, and finish with a losing record.

“We needed to win bad, especially at home,” said Mike MacIntyre of the Buffs’ win over Cal. “That was our first gold game and now we’ve got three more. We’re going to play a really good Arizona State team. I think Todd Graham is a heck of a coach and they found their way. That’s the next one we’ve got to go to. We want to win them all and we’re going to try to win them all, but you just have a better chance at home. That’s just a fact. We needed to take care of that and we did today. I think that’s big for all those kids’ confidence.”

Can the Buffs find at least one more win in the final three – at Arizona State; USC; at Utah?

Sure.

They could also lose all three.

It’s been that kind of season.

A kind of season where Florida State opened the year as the No. 3 team in the nation, and a pick by some to win the national championship. The Seminoles are currently 2-5, and are in last place in the Atlantic division of the ACC.

There are other examples of teams across the nation which have disappointed this fall … Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska, Louisville, and North Carolina are just some of the teams on the list.

The Pac-12, as a conference, has been the definition of mediocrity.

As October turns into November, every team in the Pac-12 South has at least four wins, and is in the running for a bowl bid.

Every team in the Pac-12 South also has at least two losses, and is out of contention for the College Football playoffs.

The current Pac-12 standings:

  • USC – 7-2 … 5-1
  • Arizona – 6-2 … 4-1
  • Arizona State – 4-4 … 3-2
  • UCLA – 4-4 … 2-3
  • Colorado – 5-4 … 2-4
  • Utah – 4-4 … 1-4

On any given Saturday, every team in the division can look good – or awful:

– USC was mauled by Notre Dame, 49-14 … before mauling Arizona State, 48-17 Saturday night;

– Arizona was picked in the Pac-12 preseason media poll to finish last, but has been undefeated ever since the Buffs unwittingly unleashed Kahlil Tate upon the college football world;

– Arizona State handed Washington it’s only loss, and manhandled Utah … before getting embarrassed by USC;

– UCLA had a good time against Oregon (31-14) … before being out-classed by Washington (44-23);

– Utah handed Arizona its only conference loss, was undefeated and ranked No. 20 in the nation … before losing four straight to fall into the Pac-12 South basement.

And you already know about your Buffs season of ups and downs.

If the ESPN Football Power Index numbers hold true, Colorado will go winless in November, finishing the season with a 5-7 record.

“One at a time,” Lindsay said. “It’s one game at a time and we can’t worry about what anyone else is saying. The offense really came together today and the defense played lights out. We put it all together, now we just have to go do it again next week. One at a time.”

On any given Saturday …

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21 Replies to “Any Given Saturday”

  1. Now AZstate becomes the ‘step up and be counted game’, we still have a outside shot @ a 8-4 season and 5-4 Conference record, both of which seemed like a ‘Winning the Lottery’ dream after last weeks WSU debacle.

    So, Buff’s time to WIN in Tempe insure a bowl berth and set the stage for a USC game where we can be focused, not tight, with game planning equal to the occasion. Then a week off to prepare and beat the Ute’s.

    Most importantly what I saw Saturday was a “TEAM” remembering that it is FUN to play college football and WIN !!!

  2. Muing about some stuff and the AZ windmill.

    Now ol Howell from the BZ constantly writes nice things about the coaches. To be fair, on his chat, if you ask the question, his true feelings do come out when referencing the coaches. Tough but fair.

    Now this appeared in his article CU coaches came through in Buffs’ win vs. Cal

    In it was this line.

    The offensive coaching staff, led by Chiaverini and Lindgren, put together a game plan that had the Buffs moving the ball — and scoring points — throughout the day.

    Just thought the order was interesting. Cause it sure as hell looked like a Chev offense rather than a lindy offense.

    Buffs

  3. Ok I don’t mind the uni combos

    But for the remaining 3 I want

    AZU. h- gold, s-white,p-black

    USC. ALL BLACK

    UTE h-black s-white, p-black.

    Gott do it

  4. ASU got a lot of hype last year. CU proved that it was not deserved. This year, ASU received a lot of hype. I wasn’t sure it was deserved after taking a look at who they had played and the margins in those games. USC exposed them. With that being said, I am certainly happy with yesterday’s CU game but not giddy by any means. Buffs have been inconsistent but I am hopeful that yesterday’s performance will give them more confidence and momentum. Prior to last year, CU had never beaten ASU. Buffs now know they can be beaten. As long as they play their own game, keep miscues down, and screen out any chatter about previous road record at ASU, Buffs have a good shot. I feel the key is to start off fast, leverage new found confidence, have some good drives, and scores. It would be awesome to get bowl eligibility next Saturday!

    1. With the exception of the Washington game, regarding the competition. That was certainly a big win against a top team. But with the wacky Pac 12, stuff can happen.

  5. Stats are our friends:

    Looking through our PAC 12 opponents I believe the best correlation for our scoring is the opponents pass defense. Looking at our next three opponents ASU is the worst at 97 in the country while Utah is the best at 40 th. We use this to predict the buffs score.

    On the other side it is generally straight points per game with a lean up or down based on their rushing yards per game.

    Based on these I predict the following:

    Win! Vs ASU. Buffs 32. ASU 26
    Loss vs. USC. Buffs 28 USC 34
    Loss vs. Utah Buffs 24 Utah 26

    But in the spirit of your original post none of these are low outs. It is a bunch of mediocrity here. Even versus USC. A good game, an extra fumble, a big blown assignment and the game shifts.

    Just to warn everyone the stats show that Our offense did not have some awakening during this game. We played a very poor pass defense and whenever we have done that we throw up very big numbers: Cal, Arizona, OSU. are all in the 100’s and we scored over 36 points in each game. Lindsey is awesome but the facts show our ability to score is predicted by our ability to pass. We need to run like we do but we need to be able to pass to make them leave the box so we can run. Make sense?

    Our defense is our defense. We are average. All sorts of average. Our opponents tend to score close to their average with a shift towards their ability to run the ball. The outliers there can be explained by the PAC 12 mediocrity bug and extrernal factors: weplayed UCLA very well but that is a team that swings big so having the, score less against us then they should is understandable. OSU scored a bunch more than they should. I think they were fired up and playing loose for the new coach.

    So the Buffs need to play consistent football and they should win 1 more game. When they beat ASU next week though I warn everyone about getting too excited. I will still be psyched to make a bowl though. And in the mediocrity of the PAC 12 sneaking in another win will be possible. Man I would love to crack the Trojans here on senior night.

    1. Good stuff, Rob. I still think they find a way to win two more. To your point though, if the spread is 4 for asu, that is basically a pick em. I pick CU.

      Go Buffs!

  6. Yo Stuart,

    I like to feel it’s the season of parity in the Pac-12. No one is head and shoulders above the other teams in the conference. But I feel the Pac-12 will do just fine in the post season, except none will make the final four.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  7. ESPN SportsCenter…………

    Feature…………The Buffalo Experience………make sure you catch it……….Nice

    Buffs

  8. The Buffs kicker is Money. Montez throwing dimes. The defense playing acceptable. The Oline actually blocking for more thatn 1.2 seconds. The recivers catching the ball. The offensive game plan and play calling (They must have made a change in who is calling the plays) was pretty good. Coach Mickey is still a bit of a Butt.

    Sooooooo happy for the Mighty Buffs. The players, the coaches and the fans.

    And this is a rebuild not a reload when you consider the players and coaches that moved on. I believe that, I really do (One of my favorite Coach Mac’s constantly used quote)

    So as I predicted they got the win. Now where is the one more.

    Utah looks vulnerable. ASU will not be an easy road game. Man if the mighty
    Buffs can pull this off it would give them the freedom to take a mighty aggressive run at USC….If Mac lets them………..

    So I am putting the Utah game as a win so they will have 6.

    ASU this weekend is a toss up cause they are pretty good. Same as the Buffs.

    And and upset of USC would just be a capper.

    Counting on a great finish. The oline plays like they did and Montez can burn anybody.

    Buffs.

    Uh Oh Buffalo

    1. I’d like to think that they could beat ASU but the only decent game this team has ever played in Tempe was the 94 Fiesta Bowl, maybe the 92 Fiesta Bowl aside from Kirby Dar Dar’s moment of glory. That stadium jut seems to be poison to this team. But maybe this first-of-the-season complete game can be the antidote.

          1. Little known fact Stuart about that game. It hadn’t rained in Tucson for close to 100 straight days leading up to that day. It rained on us that day in Arizona Stadium, but didn’t bother the Buffs.

    2. Yo Victor,

      Did you notice Chiaverini carrying a play chart during the game? It’s the first time I’ve noticed it and I always rewatch the games. He seemed much more involved this week. He was also much more animated and firing the guys up.

      I don’t know who called the plays this. It doesn’t matter really. They finally played like they were having fun and it showed. So proud of the guys.

      ASU certainly looks beatable now, even at home. Buffs need to keep the bit MO going.

      Mark
      Boulderdevil

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