Gold Games

In the CU meeting room, the schedule for the season is posted.

At the outset of the 2016 campaign, head coach Mike MacIntyre highlighted the games the Buffs were to play in November, labeling them “Gold Games”.

Now, it’s an old football cliche that “the games they remember are played in November”.

In 2016, however, the Buffs were coming off of ten straight losing seasons. In recent memory there had been little for Buff players (or their fans) to get excited about when the calendar turned to November.

Indeed, from 2012-15 – Mike MacIntyre’s first three years at Colorado – the Buffs were 1-13 in November games.

Not much shine to CU’s November “Gold Games”.

In 2016, however, that all changed. The Buffs entered November with a 6-2 record, and proceeded to go 4-0 in the “Gold Games”. Along the way, CU picked up its first-ever win over UCLA as a member of the Pac-12, together with the Buffs’ first wins over ranked teams since 2009, taking down No. 20 Washington State and No. 21 Utah.

While played on October 28th, last week’s 44-28 win over Cal – as one of CU’s last four games of the regular season – was labeled a “Gold Game” in the CU meeting room. The victory gave the Buffs five straight wins in “Gold Games”.

Make that 5-1.

In falling to Arizona State, 41-30, history will reflect a two-score victory for the Sun Devils. The Buffs fell to 0-5 against ASU in games played in Tempe … situation normal.

The Buff Nation, however, knows different.

We know that the Buffs were in the lead for most of the game, and had multiple opportunities not only to come out with a victory, but to do so comfortably.

The “Gold Game” against Arizona State could have had some “Golden Moments”:

— Golden Moment No. 1 – Colorado 0, Arizona State 0 – 9:47 remaining in the first quarter – CU ball, second-and-ten at the ASU 18-yard line … Phillip Lindsay takes off out of the backfield, and is wide open at the ASU five yard line, but Steven Montez misses him. Two plays later, the Buffs settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead;

— Golden Moment No. 2 – Colorado 3, Arizona State 0 – 6:17 remaining in the first quarter – CU ball, first-and-ten at the CU 26-yard line. The Buffs run a flea flicker to perfection. Phillip Lindsay laterals the ball back to Steven Montez, who lofts the ball to a wide open Shay Fields. The senior receiver is so open that it looks like he is fielding a punt. Instead of an easy touchdown, however, Fields drops the ball. Instead of a 14-0 lead, the first two series netted only a field goal, with the Buffs punting the ball away three plays later, the score left at 3-0;

— Golden Moment No. 3 – Colorado 10, Arizona State 0 – 8:24 remaining in the first half – CU ball, fourth-and-one at the ASU 28-yard line. The Buffs had just stopped the Sun Devils on a fourth-and-one play near midfield, and were primed to go in for the kill. A yard short of a first down, Mike MacIntyre opted to go for a first down instead of a 45-yard field goal (James Stefanou kicked a 53-yarder later in the game, so he had the range). Having to take a time out as the play clock was running out, the Buffs allowed ASU to bring in their goal line defense. Phillip Lindsay was stopped for a one-yard loss, giving the ball back to Arizona State. Six plays later, it was a 10-7 game, and the Buffs’ chances for a rout were lost.

— Golden Moment No. 4 – Colorado 10, Arizona State 7 – 1:21 remaining in the first half – CU ball, first-and-goal at the ASU one-yard line. Bryce Bobo had just made a spectacular catch to put the Buffs in prime position for a touchdown. It was first-and-goal, and the Buffs still had a time out left. No reason to rush, but the Buffs did anyway, snaping the ball with 19 seconds remaining on the play clock. Steven Montez didn’t score on the play, but ASU called time out. Phillip Lindsay scored on the next play, but 1:07 remained in the half. Arizona State went on to score with seven seconds remaining to make it a 17-14 game. Had the Buffs used better clock management a minute earlier, the Sun Devils may have had to settle for a field goal … or not had enough time to score at all.

— Golden Moment No. 5 – Colorado 17, Arizona State 14 – 12:34 remaining in the third quarter – CU ball, first-and-ten at the ASU 39-yard line. The teams traded three-and-outs to begin the second half, but Alex Kinney’s 67-yard punt to the ASU one yard line gave CU the advantage. After a 33-yard punt by the Sun Devils’ punter, CU set up shop at the ASU 39 … but the Buffs couldn’t muster a first down. James Stefanou hit from 53 yards out to salvage a field goal for the Buffs, but a chance to build back a two-score lead had been wasted.

— Golden Moment No. 6 – Colorado 27, Arizona State 17 – 3:41 remaining in the third quarter – CU ball, first-and-ten, at the CU 30-yard line. After ASU answered Stefanou’s field goal with one of their own, Steven Montez hit Shay Fields for a 54-yard touchdown to give the Buffs their third ten-point lead of the game. The Buff defense forced a quick three-and-out from the Sun Devil offense, giving the Buffs the ball, with a ten-point lead, late in the third quarter. A scoring drive here would have, in all likelihood, ended the game in favor of the Buffs. On first down, Steven Montez hit Devin Ross for an apparent 15-yard gain to midfield … but Ross couldn’t hold on. Instead, it was second-and-ten, which became fourth-and-11 a few moments later.

The Buffs had other chances, of course, later in the game, but that first-and-ten play marked the zenith of CU’s chances at a victory, with the game quickly getting out of hand thereafter. Arizona State went on to out-score Colorado, 24-3, in the fourth quarter, turning a 27-17 deficit into a resounding 41-30 victory.

“Golden Moments” … Golden opportunities to make the Arizona State game a “Gold Game”, to get the Buffs to bowl eligibility and keep CU from the specter of going from worst-to-first … and then back to worst.

“We made some mistakes and Arizona State played better than we did,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We hurt ourselves too many times.”

“Missed throws, dropped balls, missed assignments,” was Steven Montez’s terse assessment. “It all caught up to us.”

Sadly, all too true statements.

“The gold games are where you want to win all of them,” senior receiver Shay Fields said in the days before the Arizona State game. “Like coach Mac says, ‘The last four is what they remember.’ They don’t remember the first eight, the first seven. The last four is where you make that statement in the Pac-12.”

Unfortunately for the fans of Colorado football, the 2017 Arizona State game was a statement game. A statement that the Buffs will be hard-pressed to make a bowl game. A statement that the CU football program is not in position for sustained excellence.

It will also resonate for the next ten months.

With the unexpected rise of the Arizona schools, Buff fans can look forward to prognostications this off-season which will place CU at the bottom of the Pac-12 South in 2018 (yes, UCLA, and perhaps even Utah, could finish behind the Buffs in the standings, but those programs will be given the benefit of the doubt moving forward … CU will not).

“The last four is what they remember” … perhaps the Buffs will turn things around, and may still qualify for a bowl game this fall.

Or … the Buff Nation will be left to remember what might have been had Colorado found a way to produce some “Golden Moments” in Tempe.

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20 Replies to “Gold Games”

  1. Honest but tactfully done, Stuart. Hey, you surveyed your followers a few weeks back, but I haven’t noticed anything different about the site since that time. Am I missing something(s)? Also, are you at liberty to share your opinion regarding the top two coaching issues that need addressed in the off-season?

    1. You are correct. Nothing has changed on the site. It will take time (read: off-season) and $$$ to implement changes.
      I’m looking into some sort of “GoFundMe” type of fund-raiser to see if the regulars want to chip in to make the site more user friendly (I’ll never make CU at the Game into a subscription site). Otherwise, there will be some cosmetic changes which I can do (swap out the pictures, for example) which I can do when the season is over and I have more time to fuss with those types of upgrades.

      1. Got it. I would encourage to move forward with the “GoFundMe” idea, making sure to let we your readers know how much you need to raise in order to make your necessary changes. There are many of us who enjoy your site, so I’m sure we could help with the related costs as well.

    2. As to coaching issues, the top two issues have to do with the co-offensive coordinator positions and the coaching along both lines.

      How the Lindgren/Chiaverini marriage will shake out is to be determined, but there has to be some adjustment there. Perhaps one (or both) will move on, but there needs to be an honest review of the results of the co-coordinator system.

      As to the line coaches … The defensive line is a mess, and Buff fans will have to hope that there are some junior college transfers still out there to bring in come January who will work out better than what we have seen so far from Javier Edwards and Chris Mulumba. I am not qualified to judge how well the offensive and defensive line coaches are doing their jobs, but the results are undeniable. If it is the “same old, same old” along the lines next fall, Buff fans will suffer through another difficult season.

      1. Okay now you say 4 coaches. I would say 5 (not counting the HC)

        One and only one of the Co-Co twins. But maybe both is the right answer. Is Chev an offensive Genius? Don’t know, not enough data. Is Lindy an offensive Genius? No. Plenty of data. Lindy must go and unless Chev can accept only Wide receiver/passing game coordinator then perhaps he needs to be sliding out as well. A REAL/experienced OC IS NEEDED….NO MORE OJT….5 YEARS IS ENOUGH..THANK YOU

        Whatever that TE/FB coaches name needs to get the hell outta here. Football isn’t played they way it use to be played back in his era. That is such a wasted position.

        The Oline coach. Man I like Adams. Time for a change? Probably even though he has been in that role 2 years. Yup move on.

        The Dline coach. Jeffcoat. An enigma. Great player. But can he coach? Can he recruit? Well the answer is there. ( Note-anator Wow watching M and M and greeny says the jets should use Davis Webb…….puke up my coffee) He probably needs to move on as well.

        Wow Wholesale changes………….Yup

        Buffs.

        Note: All those coaches mentioned, other than chev, have one thing in common. Therein lies the problem……

        All MWC that have not been able to take the next step….after 5 years no less (including the HC by the way)

      2. Agree totally. Jeffcoat is a great guy, but as far as recruiting goes, I’m not seeing him get the job done. We’re also greatly undersized to run a 3-4 scheme. “The Buffs held a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter against Arizona State where a win would have meant a bowl berth. Instead, they lost by 11.” –ESPN That quote sums up our d-line. They’re okay for a while but get too worn down over the course of a game. And as far as the offense, can anyone really tell me what our identity is? A running team that passes (Wisconsin, Arizona)? A passing team that runs (Washington State, Texas Tech)? Use the Tight End for one game per season? If a senior wide-receiver drops one more catchable ball they should be benched!

  2. Without the blocked punt the Buffs probably would have pulled this one out. It is absolutely imperative that that the Co-OCs are reduced by one. I don’t understand the abandonment of the run in the 4th quarter. The D line was gassed and throwing incomplete passes just helped ASU. A missed opportunity that is the coaches fault.

  3. I’ve heard this saying over the years, think first it was from Tom Landery which goes something like this: The Pros/Colleges are littered with coaches in one of two buckets – Builders OR Sustainers, the good/great coaches can do both.

    My continued reticence toward Mac2.0 was based broadly on the above and I think the team this year has proven that we have a Builder, not a great coach.

    1. I’m not sure that quote is true. Sorry Tom Landry. See Chip Kelly and Bob Stoops as examples. They both did both. I think we owe MM one more year before we can label him as only a builder. He will have to make some very difficult decisions regarding his coaches in the off-season, however.

      1. Still think Landry is right…Chip did not build Oregon, Bellotti did. Stoops was a great coach, would be the greatest in CU history?!?!

  4. Good article. Except for the homecoming game, this season has been filled with mistakes, poor play calling, bad decision making, inconsistency, lack of capitalizing on opportunities, missed assignments, and uninspired players. Except for the game against Cal, this entire team does not appear focused on the task at hand. 4 TD pass drops by 4 different receivers in two key games (UCLA, ASU) is only one example of this. Whose responsibility is to be focused? Players certainly own part of this but the coaches own preparing the team for the games and getting, and keeping, the players focused. Putting up Gold Games helps with focus as does the one game at a time approach but there is something else amiss. Players need to have their heads in the game but it often seems that the entire team does not have their collective head in the game. The latter is a coaching responsibility.

  5. SIMPLE, the WINNER of CU v. UT will go bowling, no matter what happens next week for CU or the next 2 weeks for Utah.

    Then again, they could both take care of the post-season option before they meet, but from here not likely.

    Best guess here, the loser of that game will be home for the Holidays. And to think I had the Buff’s @ 9-3 on the season and no worse than 7-5 !!

  6. There is only one way to feel any solace this November Sunday. After watching the Buffs yesterday and the first half of the Bronco game today, I found the answer.

    Go to and read the Lincoln Star Journal and read about all the pulling of hair, wearing of sackcloth, and tearing of garments at Husker U.

  7. “With the unexpected rise of the Arizona schools…….”
    Good coaches can have a bad year once in a while. Bad coaches can have a good year once in a while. Maybe it was one good coach that helped the Buffs last year.

  8. It is the coaching. They had the lead, they lost it. There were mistakes to be sure by the players, but even if you take those mistakes away, the game was lost by the coaching. I thought they were going bowling for sure.

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