CU’s Revised 2020 Schedule – Thoughts

August 1st

The Athletic: Winners and Losers from revised Pac-12 schedule

Note … While The Athletic has excellent college football in general, it doesn’t have a writer covering five schools from the Pac-12: Cal; Stanford; Colorado; Oregon State and UCLA … which tends to skew some of its coverage … 

From The Athletic … Who are the winners and losers from this new schedule?

Haller (Arizona State): Fans are the biggest winners. To this point, most of what they’ve had to digest has been negative. The cancellation of nonconference games. The uncertainty of having a season at all. The schedule doesn’t guarantee anything, but at least it provides a starting point. Biggest loser: Washington State’s Nick Rolovich. Originally, the Cougars were scheduled to open Pac-12 play against Oregon State and California. Now they’re opening against the 2019 division champs, Utah and Oregon. At least both are in Pullman, but man, that’s a rough start for a new coach.

Morales (USC): Oregon and USC stand out as winners to me. Oregon opens against Colorado and Washington State, two of the conference’s three programs with first-year head coaches. In a year in which there will be less practice time than ever, that’s beneficial. And it will be much easier for the Ducks to ease in whoever their new quarterback is than it would have been against North Dakota State and Ohio State.

I think USC benefited from the move to a conference-only schedule the most because Alabama and Notre Dame were the most talented teams on its initial slate. Now the Trojans will be more talented and experienced than every team on the schedule. That won’t guarantee a conference title, but the first six games set up well for USC.

I think Utah is the loser of the schedule reveal. The Utes’ game against Oregon is the toughest one that any conference school had to add, coming at the conclusion of a five-game stretch to end the season that includes games at Arizona State, at home against Washington, at Cal and at home against USC. Those might be the five best Pac-12 teams outside of Utah.

Kamrani (Utah): Winners: Oregon, Washington in the North. In the South, I’ll say Utah. Despite a legit gauntlet in the second half of the year, the youngest Utah team in Kyle Whittingham’s four decades at the school gets five very winnable first outings the first five weeks of this new season. That being said, the last five (at ASU, vs. Washington, at Cal, vs. USC, vs. Oregon) is probably the hardest stretch any team has. Oregon gets an added trip to Salt Lake in the final week of the season, but it gets an off week before Washington, which will piss off Huskies fans. But as my friend Christian Caple tweeted Friday, if we even get to that point on Halloween night and those two bitter rivals are actually playing, will anyone really care? (Answer: If they do, they have issues.)

Alger (Oregon): With 10 games, it means every team will miss just one opponent this year. In the Pac-12 North, Oregon, Washington and Cal are the likely favorites. Oregon (UCLA) and Cal (Colorado) both miss out on bottom-rung Pac-12 South opponents. Washington misses out on Arizona State. Washington wins this round.

Caple (Washington): Winners: teams with veteran, proven defenses. More than ever, those groups will have a chance to dominate, especially early, as young or inexperienced opposing offenses suffer from the loss of spring practices and on-field install time. Losers: California, Stanford and Utah, the three teams that begin the season with back-to-back road games. (And yes, Cal may well fit into both of those categories.)

Read full story here (subscription required) …

July 31st – Essay: My Thoughts on CU’s Revised Schedule

Well, it’s here.

The Colorado 2020 schedule was to open in Ft. Collins on September 5th. Now, with non-conference games canceled and a ten-game conference-only schedule in place, the Buffs will still be opening its season on the road … but now it will be against defending Pac-12 champion Oregon.

Trading a home conference opener against the Ducks for a road conference opener against the Ducks is just one of the alterations the Buffs will face.

The schedule …

Old schedule … Oregon (Sept. 26th) … bye … at Arizona (Fri., Oct. 9th) … UCLA (Oct. 17th) … Arizona State (Oct. 24th) … at USC (Oct. 31st) … Washington State (Nov. 7th) … at Stanford (Nov. 14th) … at Washington (Nov. 21st) … Utah (Nov. 28th)

New schedule … at Oregon (Sept. 26th)… Utah (Oct. 3rd) … at Arizona (Oct. 10th) … at USC (Oct. 17th) … bye (Oct. 24th) … Arizona State (31st) … at Washington (Fri, Nov. 6th) … UCLA (Nov 14th) … at Stanford (Nov. 21st) … Oregon State (Nov. 28th) … Washington State (Dec. 5th)

Just the facts … 

The bare bones of the new schedule ... Oregon State has been added to the schedule, and will be a home game on November 28th. The Oregon game will still be played on September 26th, but will now be played in Eugene instead of Boulder. With the alterations, the Buffs, who had five home games and four road games in Pac-12 play, will now have five home games and five road games.

The conference didn’t do Karl Dorell any favors … Welcome to the Pac-12, coach! Instead of opening with two Mountain West teams to start his career as CU’s head coach (at CSU; Fresno State), Dorrell must now face the two teams which played for the Pac-12 title last December, taking on Oregon on the road (September 26th) before returning to face Utah in Dorrell’s home debut (October 3rd).

The conference didn’t do Karl Dorrell any favors, Part II … CU opens with three of its first four games on the road, taking on Oregon in Eugene, Arizona in Tucson (October 10th) and USC in Los Angeles (October 17th). The only home game in that stretch will be against defending Pac-12 South champion Utah, with the November 28th home game being moved up to October 3rd. With three of the first four games on the road, it will mark the first time the Buffs open away from home three times out of four to open a season since 2016. (But one of those games was in Denver: you have to go back to the 1973 and 1974 campaigns to find three road affairs among the first four contests).

Snow Bowl, anyone? … The December 5th home finale against Washington State will be the latest game to end the regular schedule since Dec. 7, 1963, when a game against Air Force was delayed two weeks due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Last weekend a potential make up week … Bye weeks are built in if the pandemic forces the postponement of games to allow for make-up dates.  All teams have a bye at some point in weeks four-through-six (Oct. 17th-31st – CU’s bye week is October 24th), with Saturday, Dec. 12th now available as well.  The conference’s championship game, originally set for Dec. 4, is now penciled in for Dec. 19.

Starting late … This will be Colorado’s latest season opener in 59 years, or since Sept. 30 in 1961; that year, CU defeated Oklahoma State in Boulder, 24-0.  That is also the last time that a conference opponent was the foe in a season opener for the Buffs.  The last times Colorado opened a season with a true road game came in 2011 and 2015, when CU played at the University of Hawai’i (losing both times).

Television times still to be determined … At this time, selections for most television broadcasts have not been determined, thus no game times have been established.  CU will have one night game, as the Buffaloes will travel to Seattle to face Washington on Friday, Nov. 6, in a game set to be televised by ESPN.

Fall Camp opening set … With the season opener now set for Sept. 26th, CU’s fall camp will begin on Monday, Aug. 17th, with the first day of classes is on Monday, Aug. 24th.

What it means … 

The Buff Nation, already asked to be patient with the new coaching staff, is going to have its patience tested. It was bad enough that the Buffs were slated to open the Karl Dorrell era against the defending Pac-12 champions, but now, instead of playing the Ducks at home, they must face Oregon in Eugene.

Not bad enough? How’s about playing the top three teams in the conference – Oregon, Utah and Utah – in the first four weeks of the season? How’s about opening with three of the first four games of the season on the road?

How does heading into CU’s bye week with an 0-4 record sound?

Now, that may be a bit overly pessimistic, but … is it really? CU at Oregon? An “L” … CU at USC? Always at “L” (CU is 0-14 all-time against the Trojans) … CU v. Utah? Most likely an “L”, though playing at home against a Utah team which replaces many of its starters from last year might not be an automatic loss, though the Utes have certainly had their way with the Buffs in recent years.

That leaves the road game against Arizona as CU’s best chance at a win before the bye week. The Wildcats are coming off of a 4-8 season, and enter the 2020 campaign on a seven-game losing streak. Arizona will now open the season against rival Arizona State, before taking to the road to take on Washington. After playing CU, the Wildcats get a bye week before taking on USC and Utah.

The October 10th matchup between CU and Arizona in Tucson will be a game between two teams very desperate to pick up an early season victory.

Now … if the Buffs can get to the bye week with their goals in tact (no worse than 1-3, perhaps even 2-2), then the second half of the season gives CU some opportunities.

CU gets a bye week before taking on Arizona State at home on Halloween. There are many preseason magazines picking the Sun Devils to challenge in the Pac-12 South this year, but the Buffs so far have had Herm Edwards’ number, going 2-0 against ASU since Edwards took over coaching the Sun Devils. Plus, while CU is resting up for the game, ASU will be playing UCLA (oddly enough, no team this year has a bye week before facing the Buffs … that’s not usually the case).

After the Arizona State game, the Buffs travel to Seattle for a Friday night game against Washington. The game will be a sandwich game for the Huskies, coming between road games against Oregon and Utah. Not that the Buffs are going to win that game, but, if they were ever to get the chance to catch the Huskies napping, this would be the year …

The Buffs, who open with three of four games on the road, will then finish with three of four games at home … and all four are winnable:

  • November 14th – UCLA
  • November 21st – at Stanford
  • November 28th – Oregon State
  • December 5th – Washington State

UCLA’s schedule is the opposite of CU’s, with the Bruins opening with three of four at home; finishing with three of four on the road. If Chip Kelly hasn’t quieted the critics by mid-November, there could be a Chip Kelly watch on by the time the Bruins hit Boulder.

Stanford, lest we forget, finished 4-8 last season (as did UCLA and Arizona). The Cardinal open the 2020 season on the road against Washington and Arizona State, before taking on USC in their home opener. Stanford will also be looking forward to a road game against Oregon after facing CU … the Cardinal could be another team struggling by mid-November.

Getting Oregon State at home is a break. Trading out Oregon at home (likely a loss in either venue) for a winnable game against the Beavers is a benefit.

Washington State is another unknown with a new coach, and will be facing CU on the road after an emotional Apple Cup game at home against rival Washington. Will the Cougars have anything left in the tank for a game against the Buffs?

Who Knows … 

… if any of the above games will even be played? And, if they are, will there be any fans in the stands? Will there be more fans allowed to be in the stands later in the year, when CU has more home games? Will the uniqueness of playing in Autzen without fans (or, at the very least, fewer fans) give the Buffs a better chance in their opener than they might have otherwise?

If nothing else, the setting of the schedule … camp opening August 17th; first game September 26th … gives college football fans something to think about; something to talk about.

With three of CU’s first four games on the road, and three of CU’s first four games likely losses (the Buffs will be double-digit underdogs against Oregon, Utah and USC), Buff fans will – again – have their patience tested.

Well, at least the 2020 season hasn’t changed that reality …


7 Replies to “CU’s Revised 2020 Schedule – Thoughts”

  1. Yo Stuart,
    Much better to have the big tough games early. Everybody is rusty and no one has ever gone through a crazy Covid-19 training camp before. It’s going to level the playing field an awful lot. Also, lack of crowd noise could make a huge difference as well.

    They are all conference games… so they are all equally important. Whining ahead of time is useless and setting the table for making excuses. We want none of that.

    The real key for Colorado this year is for KD to keep his guys healthy. Having a full squad to play with is a BIG advantage. The Buffs need to be smart and take care of their health. For the first time ever, it’s not injuries that will be deciding factors in most cases. The deciding factor for a lot of games will be what percentage of the players (and coaches) who test negative for Covid-19 and are allowed to play each week. Not only that, positive tests will take players out for several weeks at least.

    I hope the Buffs will be going to visors on the helmets to help protect the guys. It will take some getting used to but will be a lot safer.

    Go BUFFS! Be SAFE! Get WINS… and KNOW that WE ARE BEHIND YOU 100% no matter what happens even if we can’t be in the stands.

    Mark / Boulderdevil

  2. defense should be good on, Question is the early KD offense. If the qb can run the Chevy plays from a few years ago, but execute better, we might be a better team than people think. If not we will deserve or low results. hope for great tings for the kids, go buffs

  3. One positive thing about hitting Oregon in the first game is that in first games neither team has their feet completely on the ground and its kind of a “shakedown cruise.” IMO that levels the playing field somewhat.
    It will also be surprising if the Oregon stadium is full lessening the impact of a road game.
    Another thing in the Buff’s favor is that Oregon has yet to see KD’s offense schemes yet.
    So if you have to play Oregon maybe doing it the first game of the season may be best.
    Utah? They lost a lot of production last year. Will they be down a little this year?

  4. Quit whining and play the game. What happened to the CU that went into Ohio State,Okl., Neb., and won
    It’s time to decide who we are. I think we can be as good as as we believe. It’s time to step up and prove it .

  5. This is par for the course for the year 2020. If we survive it, will we hit an “all positive” year in 2021? Boy I hope so. No pandemic, no protests and the Buffs win the national championship. I’m trying to be an optimist in a time when it is hard to do!

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