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Pac-12 Parity – Just Not for Colorado

It’s been a season of parity for the Pac-12 Conference, and this weekend was a glaring example …

The bottom-feeder of the Pac-12 conference, UCLA (1-5), went on the road to face Stanford. The Cardinal had opened the season ranked No. 24 in the country, and were 10-point home favorites against the Bruins.

Result … UCLA 34, Stanford 16

The No. 11 team in the Pac-12 conference, Oregon State (2-4), went on the road to face Cal. The Bears had risen as high as No. 15 in the country, and were 10.5-point home favorites against the Beavers.

Result … Oregon State 21, California 17

The No. 10 team in the Pac-12 conference, Colorado (3-3), went on the road to face Washington State. The Cougars had risen as high as No. 19 in the country, and were 12.5-point home favorites against the Buffs.

Result … Washington State 41, Colorado 10.

One of these things is not like the others …

We are into Year Nine of the Pac-12 Conference, and one truism appears clear: The Buff Nation is not entitled to nice things.

In a season in which any team in the league can seemingly beat any other team, the Buffs are staying true to form – not only losing, but losing badly. Through nine seasons and three coaches, the Buffs – with one season which is appearing to the rest of the nation as more and more anomalous – have been written down as an easy win for the rest of the conference.

Taking out the 2016 season, in which the Buffs went 8-1 in Pac-12 play, Colorado has posted conference records of: 2-7; 2-7; 1-8; 0-9; 1-8; 2-7; and 2-7.

The Buffs are now 3-4, 1-3 in Pac-12 play, and the 2019 season is smelling more and more like another 1-8 or 2-7 finish in Pac-12 play … and another last place finish.

With the 41-10 loss to Washington State, the Buffs not only fell to 1-3 in Pac-12 play, they did against a reeling Cougar squad which had lost three games in a row, and had fired its defensive coordinator. Washington State had given up 143 points in three Pac-12 games, giving up 67 to UCLA before surrendering 38 to both Utah and Arizona.

The Buff offense, though, made the Cougar defense look like the ’85 Chicago Bears.

After posting all of 299 yards of total offense against Oregon, the Buffs were only able to post 320 total yards against a defense which was 115th in the country in total defense and 98th in scoring defense, giving up 459 yards and 31.8 points per game.

With a defensive line and secondary decimated by injuries, the only hope the Buffs had to win was to play error-free ball, and try to out-score the Cougars. Three interceptions, two missed field goals, and missed opportunities (five drives into Washington State territory, with only ten points to show for it) doomed Colorado to yet another disgraceful performance in Pullman.

Perhaps once the kickoff time and weather forecast were announced, though, we should have seen it coming.

Colorado has played in Pullman four times in its history. The most recent three have been night games …

November 21, 2015 … Temperature at kickoff: 31-degrees; 8-15 mph winds … Result: Washington State 27, Colorado 3

October 21, 2017 … Temperature at kickoff: 41-degrees; 22-32 mph winds; rain … Result: Washington State 28, Colorado 0

October 19, 2019 … Temperature at kickoff: 38-degrees; 10 mph wins; rain … Result: Washington State 41, Colorado 10

That’s three straight games played in Pullman at night, with all three games played in adverse conditions. Colorado has used three quarterbacks in each of the past two games, with only one touchdown to show for it (and that was on a run by Laviska Shenault out of a wildcat formation … no quarterback required).

Cade Apsay, Sam Noyer, Steven Montez, Casey Marksberry, Steven Montez (again), Tyler Lytle, Blake Stenstrom .. all have taken snaps against Washington State in the last three games played in Pullman, and none of them produced a touchdown.

The only time Colorado has played Washington State in Pullman during the daylight hours came back in 2012, coming in what would prove to the last of two seasons under Jon Embree. The 2012 season was a disaster, with the Buffs finishing 1-11. The lone victory, however, came on the afternoon of September 22nd, when the Buffs defeated the Cougars, 35-34. The 0-3 Buffs (who had lost to Fresno State the weekend before, 69-14) scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, with the final touchdown coming on a fourth-and-goal four yard run by quarterback Jordan Webb with nine seconds remaining.

September 22, 2012 … Temperature at kickoff: 74-degrees; 5-10 mph winds; hazy … Result: Colorado 35, Washington State 34

Small consolation, but the Buffs won’t play again in Pullman until 2023 or 2024 … hopefully on a sunny afternoon in late September or early October.

So, where does the most recent debacle in the Palouse leave the Buffs?

Colorado has played back-to-back road games in each of its nine seasons as a member of the Pac-12. The Buffs have gone 0-7-2 in those series, with seven sweeps and only two splits. I’ll do the math for you, that’s a combined record of 2-16 in those games.

In that sense, losing to both Oregon and Washington State on the road is not a surprise. What is a surprise is how thoroughly dominating the defeats were in both games. The Buffs under Mel Tucker had posted a “September to Remember“, with halftime adjustments clearly favoring Colorado over its opponents. That factor alone gave Buff fans optimism about the future of the program. There were known deficiencies in the lineup – particularly on defense – but the resiliency of the Buff players was refreshing. Even in the losses to Air Force and Arizona, the team had continued to fight.

Against Oregon and Washington State, the games were both over by halftime (24-3 in both games), with hardly a flicker of fight in the second half.

There are good reasons to remain optimistic about the future of the program under Mel Tucker, but the present remains cloudy at best.

Steven Montez will finish his career atop many of the CU career charts (he already owns 37 school records), and his start against USC next Friday will be his 32nd consecutive, the most in school history (Gale Weidner had 31 consecutive starts at quarterback between 1959-61).

And yet, for all of his accomplishments and records, Montez – midway through his senior season – is still very much a work in progress. He still throws off of his back foot, he still retreats at the first sign of pressure (instead of stepping up into the pocket), and continues to miss open receivers. In the Washington State rout, the overthrow of a wide open Laviska Shenault in the end zone immediately comes to mind, but there was another throw which to me symbolizes the frustration the Buff Nation (and surely, the Buff coaches and players) have with Montez.

It was a simple out pattern to K.D. Nixon in the third quarter, when the Buffs still had some modicum of hope. The pass play was only about an eight yard pattern, and Nixon was open. The Montez pass, however, bounced at Nixon’s feet. Nixon looked over towards Montez, palms of both hands out, in a “WTF?” pose. No words were spoken. None were necessary.

Sadly, the CU coaching staff does not appear to have many alternatives. One backup, Sam Noyer, was moved over to safety, in an attempt to help bolster the depleted secondary. Tyler Lytle came in for one play against Washington State, and was promptly injured. Blake Stenstrom then came in, and on the very next play, threw an interception.

Class of 2020 recruit Brendon Lewis (if the Buffs don’t lose his commitment) may be the answer next fall. Arizona State is playing a true freshman this year, Jayden Daniels, with good results. Or, the CU coaching staff may find a senior transfer quarterback willing to come in and take over until Lewis is ready to play.

For the 2019 season, however, it’s likely Steven Montez. For better … or for worse …

To date in the 2019 season, the Pac-12 conference has played 25 intra-conference games. In only three of those games have there been blowouts of 28 points or more.

Colorado has been the victim of two of the three blowouts (Utah 52, Oregon State 7 being the other), both of those deflating games coming in the past few weeks.

Up next is USC, on a short week, with the Trojans looking to make it three straight routs.

In case you haven’t heard it before, be prepared, as you will hear “CU is 0-13 all-time against USC” all week … and very few of those games have been close.

In 2011, CU’s first season as a member of the Pac-12, the Buffs hosted USC on a Friday night. Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley set a school-record in that game, throwing for six touchdowns in a 42-17 rout of the Buffs. In 2012, Barkley threw another six touchdown passes in a 50-6 pummeling. In the 2014 game, USC quarterback Cody Kessler did Barkley one better, setting a new school record by throwing seven touchdown passes in a 56-28 domination.

In eight games since joining the Pac-12, the Buffs have not only not defeated the Trojans, they have only been within a touchdown at the final gun in two of those eight contests.

Less than a month ago, Buff fans were excited about the matchup against the Trojans. USC was reeling, and the Buffs were 3-1, coming off of an impressive 34-31 road win over a ranked Arizona State team. Outside of Utah, there didn’t seem to be a team in the South the Buffs couldn’t beat.

Parity was CU’s ally, and it helped foster dreams of a winning season and a bowl bid for the Buffs.

Now, a month later, USC has righted its ship, and Colorado has fallen back on an all too familiar pattern … getting blown out, and settling back in the bottom of the Pac-12 South standings.

For most of the Pac-12, including teams like Oregon State and UCLA – who were afterthoughts a month ago – parity in the Pac-12 equals opportunity. Anybody can beat anybody.

Pac-12 parity … just not for CU.

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11 Replies to “Pac-12 Parity – Just Not for Colorado”

  1. I’m sorry…watching this team is GOD AWFUL. They won’t win another game. 3-9????? Wow, McIntyre has to be silently smiling inside. How bad is this University going to get??? I’m sick…really just disappointed beyond belief.

  2. I fully realize this is the least of CU football’s issues right now, but that uniform combination was wretched. Looked like something that belongs in Laramie.

  3. Eh. Teams get blown out all the time, even decent teams. The same Oregon state that won yesterday for blasted last week. And Washington state might have lost three in a row, but there’s no way they should have lost to ucla and the Arizona state game was a toss up. They weren’t really the #10 team in the conference.

    CU can still beat Stanford and ucla and make the season look “ok”. Washington doesn’t scare me as much as they have in previous years. Usc is a complete wildcard. As for Utah… Anything can happen in a rivalry game!

  4. So are the buffs doomed to join terminal doormats like Kansas and Rutgers? doormats worn thin by continuous stomping?
    I’m not a baseball fan but didnt even the Cubs win a world series after the better part of a century in the desert? Do we have to wait for the better part of a century? Its Getting closer. Its been almost 30 years since the NC

    1. Don’t look now, but Kansas just took a pretty good tx team to the wire.

      I was glad they didn’t hire les, but maybe they wanted to and he declined?

      Eh. Lots of football left. Hopefully Mel can turn the tide this year, where our last few coaches could not.

      Go Buffs

      1. Kansas has zero conference wins.

        Expect that to remain stable.

        Buffs

        note: les was not offered. But you didn’t know that did ya. Course not

    2. Yo ep.

      If Mickey was still here and had a lifetime contract you would be right and an earache would be happy and ranting one more year, no 5 more years, he will figure it out blah blooey.

      Welp HCMT is here gonna try and fill the cupboard which is bare (See above Stu discussion on quarterbacks……………………..which as you know is a pretty important piece of the team eh) Which some don’t believe it is bare cause they are sure Mickey was a great recruiter blah blah blooey.

      Yup right yup Mickeys deep state is still here……………(Smile Stu??) I mean some say he was a DB guru. Well maybe he was. All them db’s left after he did………………..I don’t recall him picking up any of them.

      So ep ya gotta give him 3 years.
      He may have to up the OC talent and I am convinced he will do what is right.4

      AND A FRESHMAN QB WILL LEAD THEM

      bUFFS

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