Colorado Daily – USC Week

September 30th – Game Day!

… CU in a few minutes … 

“It’s college football; any given Saturday, anything can happen”

From the Daily Camera … After a 3-0 start, CU still had many doubters and those doubters have been vocal since the Buffs’ humbling defeat last week. Sanders, of course, has never been one to worry about detractors and he’s teaching his team to brush them off, as well.

“It’s about us; it’s not about them. It’s about us,” Sanders said. “Everywhere we go, even in your darn families, you are going to have detractors, you are going to have naysayers. … God would always allow somebody to be in your path that has a disdain or dislike for you. It’s up to you to keep going. I don’t stop. I keep going. I don’t have stop in me. Not whatsoever, man.”

Saturday will be a significant test to the Buffs in that regard.

History suggests there’s a low probability for victory against the Trojans. The Buffs haven’t defeated an opponent ranked in top 10 in 16 years. USC, favored by 21.5 points, hasn’t lost a game as a three-touchdown favorite in 15 years.

But, the history of sports is filled with remarkable upsets.

“It’s college football; any given Saturday, anything can happen,” linebacker Juwan Mitchell said.

Just last Saturday, in fact, USC was a 34.5-point favorite at Arizona State and had to battle to the end. ASU was within a touchdown until USC scored with 7 minutes, 17 seconds left to make it 42-28, which wound up as the final score.

“You see USC play Arizona State (last week), so they’re vulnerable,” Mitchell said. “And I’m sure (USC head coach Lincoln Riley) is telling them boys they’ve got to step it up this week, too. So it’s pretty much who is gonna come to work be the most prepared, day in and day out, leading up to Saturday. We can’t just flip the switch. We got to prepare.”

That preparation includes accepting the truth of what the film has shown to this point, but working to correct it.

“There’s always gonna be adversity,” cornerback Omarion Cooper said. “We’ve got to take that loss, run with it, fix the mistakes. That adversity can either help us or break us but this week it’s helping us. We’re working hard.”

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September 29th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Neill Woelk’s Keys to the USC game

From … The Colorado Buffaloes don’t have too many goose eggs in their record book.

But of the few that exist, none has been more of a pain in the side than CU’s record against Southern California in football: 0-16.

The two programs go their separate ways next year, with Colorado headed to the Big 12 and USC to the Big Ten. Barring a non-conference schedule change, they won’t meet anytime in the foreseeable future.

Thus, Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders’ Buffs have one last chance to put up a mark in the win column against the Trojans when the two meet in a nationally televised game Saturday at Folsom Field (10 a.m., Fox).

It’s the perfect opportunity for Coach Prime and his team — and while the oddsmakers have installed the Buffaloes as heavy underdogs, there are plenty of reasons to believe in Colorado’s chances against the No. 8 Trojans.

Our weekly Fast Five:

1. Start fast. This hasn’t been a Colorado strong point for the last several games, but it will be imperative for the Buffs to get out of the gate quickly in this one.

CU doesn’t want to fall behind early and have to play catchup against a USC offense that leads the nation in points per game (55.0) and is second in yards per game (569.2). Rather, Colorado needs to get out to a quick lead and put pressure on the Trojans to respond.

Saturday’s game time isn’t ideal for the Trojans. Kickoff is at 9 a.m. their time — early for college students — and the last time USC played in such an early game, the Trojans started slowly and needed two touchdowns in the final three minutes to beat Arizona State in 2020.

So how do the Buffs put USC in a similar position?

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CU at the Game featured in an article by Sellout Crowd 

From Jenni Carlson at … Surveying a nearly empty stadium during Colorado’s season finale last November, Stuart Whitehair had a sudden thought.

He turned to another longtime season-ticket holder sitting near him.

“Next time we’re here together,” he said, “it will be sold out.”

Whitehair knew who Colorado was playing in the 2023 home opener: Nebraska.

“We thought that half the stadium would be filled with Nebraska fans,” he said.

Turns out, he was right about Folsom Field being sold out for Colorado’s Sept. 9 opener. The place was packed. But it wasn’t because of the Cornhusker crazies.

It was because of Coach Prime.

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What Deion Sanders means to Colorado fans. ‘At least we have something to believe’

Travis Hunter/Henry Blackburn video

From Travis Hunter’s YouTube channel …


September 28th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Former Buff Nate Landman starting at linebacker for Atlanta Falcons

From … Nate Landman, who came to Atlanta as an undrafted free agent, suddenly is the Falcons starting inside linebacker for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville in London.

Landman’s opportunity could continue through the season. The second-year player is being asked to move up after Troy Andersen was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder/pec injury on Tuesday that could end his season.

“I just want to be there for my teammates and hopefully build that trust where they can trust me to go out there and make plays,” Landman said after Wednesday’s practice. “I definitely trust them. I’m not alone out there. There’s 10 other guys playing beside me.”

Andersen was injured in last week’s 20-6 loss at Detroit and will miss at least four weeks.

Coach Arthur Smith said Wednesday that Andersen’s surgery will determine if he has a chance to return this season.

Landman, in his second season from Colorado, played in four games in 2022.

“He’s an instinctive football player,” Smith said. “He’s smart. All of the things you look for.”

Andersen, a 2022 second-round pick from Montana State, had eight tackles against the Lions after being inactive in Week 2 against Green Bay because of a concussion. Landman filled in for Andersen with four tackles against the Packers, so he won’t be a first-time starter against the Jaguars.

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Rick George asks CU fans not to storm the field

From … Dear Buffalo Fans:

What an incredible start to our football season! Coach Prime, the team and our Department of Athletics staff are appreciative of your incredible support at our first two homes games, and for the sellouts for the rest of our home slate.
We want to remind you of our expectations of fan conduct during games. We expect all our fans to refrain from vulgar language, verbal or physical abuse, underage drinking, and overall intoxication. This type of conduct will not be tolerated at our home sporting events, and I have instructed our gameday staff and members of law enforcement to enhance their monitoring efforts of our fans’ conduct. Consequences for such behavior can include expulsion from the game, bans on attending future contests, student conduct investigations and, of course, legal action. Please act responsibly during our games, not only so others can enjoy the experience, but also so the world can see our passion and character.
In addition, I ask you to refrain from entering the field after games. Although “rushing the field” has long been a college football tradition, in recent years, many schools and conferences are cracking down on the practice, as it greatly jeopardizes the safety of players, coaches, staff and other fans. Rushing the field is in violation of University and Pac-12 regulations.
Unfortunately, after both of our first two home games, we received an inordinate number of complaints regarding fan conduct (especially student conduct), and after both of our home game victories, students and fans “rushed the field.”  Such conduct is unacceptable, and I ask you to please refrain from such behavior for any future events.
Thank you again for your incredible support of the Buffs and for your respectful adherence to our fan conduct policies. It’s a great time to be a Colorado Buffalo, and I look forward to seeing you at Folsom Field on Saturday as we take on USC.
Go Buffs!
Rick George

Well-traveled linebacker Juwan Mitchell having an immediate impact: “It was just the right place to come in with a chip on my shoulder”

From the Daily Camera … The transfer portal has made the oft-traveled college football player a part of the modern lexicon.

And then there is the long, winding journey undertaken by linebacker Juwan Mitchell that, eventually, landed him at Colorado.

Mitchell has been a bright spot for a beleaguered Colorado defense in recent weeks, providing a sure tackler amid a group that is struggling to get stops. Now part of this fifth collegiate program since graduating from high school in 2018, the Buffaloes likely will need another big game from Mitchell in order to slow the high-octane attack of USC led by reining Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams when the eighth-ranked Trojans visit Folsom Field on Saturday (10 a.m., Fox).

“It was kind of just the belief. They believed in me, believed in my situation,” Mitchell said about landing at CU. “And I also believed in them and what they had going and what they had building. Just the whole culture. There’s a lot of underdogs, things of that sort. It was just the right place to come in with a chip on our shoulder. Every single person has got something to prove.”

The past two weeks, Mitchell has been a force, recording 15 tackles in the double-overtime win against Colorado State and 10 more last week at Oregon. Asked this week how he has been able to assimilate himself so quickly with the Buffs’ scheme, Mitchell said the multiple stops have made him a quick study.

… CU managed to put together its 3-0 start despite the struggles of the defense, which allowed an average of 460.3 yards in those three wins but balanced that total with 10 takeaways. It was a different story against Oregon, which moved the ball at will and finished with 522 total yards.

The Buffs will face a similar attack this week against USC (4-0). Mitchell believes the CU defense is primed for a rebound.

“Everybody’s waiting for us to respond. We don’t got time for a pity party, things of that sort,” Mitchell said. “So we’re right back to work. Right back where we started. Nobody expected us to be 3-0. People didn’t expect us to win. So we gave people what they wanted this game (against Oregon). It’s time to get back to work and just focus on what’s in the locker room.”

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September 27th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Black viewers 23% of audience for CU games; 15% for non-Colorado games

From ESPN … Black creators are posting about Colorado football online. Black people all over the country are wearing Buffaloes gear and rooting for the team despite having no connection to Colorado other than pride and support for what Sanders is doing. Kids have tried to peek over the gates near the Buffaloes’ practice facility for a glimpse at it all.

Over 7 million people watched the Buffaloes upset national championship runner-up TCU in their season opener Sept. 2, the most-watched college football game that day.

Colorado’s first three games of the season rated 77% higher among Black viewers, according to data provided by ESPN research. Black viewers made up 23% of the audience for those games, compared to 15% for non-Colorado games.

Ninth-ranked Oregon handed Colorado its first loss in a 42-6 rout Saturday that knocked the Buffaloes out of the AP Top 25. Looking at their schedule, more setbacks are likely, but Black support for Sanders and Colorado is as much about culture and representation as it is wins and losses. That game was the most-watched of the 2023 season, drawing 10.4 million viewers on ABC, and the Buffaloes have a highly anticipated matchup against No. 8 USC coming up Saturday.

Former athletes and celebrities have made appearances at Colorado’s Folsom Field, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens and NBA stars Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Before the rivalry game against Colorado State, Sanders walked out with the Grammy-winning rapper Lil Wayne.

“We don’t really have very much of a Black community,” said Reiland Rabaka, the director of the Center for African and African American Studies at Colorado. Boulder has a Black population of 1.1%. “I’ve been here for nearly 20 years. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

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Wilner: “The Buffs are not frauds; nor are they contenders. They are a vastly improved team”

From the San Jose Mercury News … So what if Colorado was run off the field by a better, faster, deeper team?

So what if CU is no longer unbeaten, ranked in the AP poll or deserving of lofty status in the best conference in the country?

That was always a bar too high for Year One of Sanders’ reclamation project.

Despite the unprecedented roster overhaul and the coaching staff’s acumen and the skills of quarterback Shedeur Sanders and the spotlight generated by an American sports icon, the Buffaloes were never going to challenge for the conference title.

Not in this conference this year. The Buffaloes simply aren’t good enough where it counts most — on the lines of scrimmage — to deal with the barrage of heavyweight opponents.

But a non-conference schedule created years ago served as fuel for the hype train to blast out of the station.

The Buffs opened with a victory at TCU, the 2022 national runners-up, and drew a massive audience on the Fox ‘Big Noon’ broadcast. Then came another Fox appearance in the home opener against Nebraska, a big name with a small game.

Had the schedule been more in line with the program’s pre-Sanders trajectory — had it featured an FCS opponent in Week 1, followed by a Group of Five foe and an appearance or two on the Pac-12 Networks — the hype would have been limited.

Instead, the eyes of the sport were on the Buffaloes instantly, and they remained transfixed as CU headed into an ambush Saturday afternoon in Autzen Stadium.

The Buffaloes are not frauds; nor are they contenders. They are a vastly improved team that’s one or two recruiting cycles from stocking the lines of scrimmage with enough size, depth and talent to contend for a conference title.

And that’s fine. The reality doesn’t diminish their entertainment value. It doesn’t lower their eventual ceiling. It doesn’t make Sanders any less of a coach. (The first and brightest indicator that Sanders should be taken seriously: He surrounded himself with a top-flight staff, especially offensive coordinator Sean Lewis.)

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September 26th

… CU in a few minutes … 

*Video: Coach Prime Weekly Press Conference*

From Brian Howell …

CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano announces retirement

Press release from CU … Dear Buffs Family,

During his annual State of the Campus address today, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano announced that after nearly 15 years as chancellor and 50 years as a dedicated CU faculty member, he has decided to retire as chancellor and transition to a faculty role in the School of Education.

His primary duties starting in fall 2024 will include serving as the Senior Executive Director at the Center for Leadership and the Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership, and he will continue to work with major donors and engaged alumni across the university landscape while supporting the transition of our new chancellor.

He plans to remain in his current post until the successful conclusion of a national search for a new chancellor. CU system President Todd Saliman will share more information about the search process in the coming weeks.

Chancellor DiStefano has dedicated his career to making CU Boulder a nationally recognized research institution that shapes tomorrow’s leaders and positively impacts humanity. In recent years, he has helped to foster a holistic focus on student success, support for CU Boulder athletics, and the role of education in sustaining a strong democracy.

Your contributions and enthusiasm have also been key to CU Boulder’s success. When you donate, you support student success, innovative research, athletics and creative works — fueling the university’s forward momentum.

It is truly an exciting and rewarding time to be a part of the University of Colorado Boulder — something I am confident will be sustained by our next leader.

Thank you for your ongoing support of CU Boulder and Go Buffs!

Katy Herbert Kotlarczyk
Vice Chancellor for Advancement


September 25th 

… CU in a few minutes … 

Coach Prime: “You know why” opposing coaches are taking shots

From USA Today … For two weeks in a row, the head coach of the opposing team has taken a personal verbal shot at Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders.

“Three weeks in a row,” Sanders said Monday in an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “We’re not counting.”

OK, three weeks in a row, if you include the actions or words of Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule.

But why? It’s not like it’s necessary for these coaches to motivate their teams with criticism of Sanders, whose Buffaloes (3-1) face No. 6 Southern California (4-0) at home on Saturday. Actually, it only seems to provide more motivation for Sanders and his players, as they said it did during before and after they beat Colorado State and Nebraska, respectively.

“I wonder why that is,” a reporter said to him Monday on a Zoom call.

“You know why that is,” Sanders said. “Just say it. Don’t try to get me and provoke me to say it. Just say it, man. I mean, some of ya’ll gotta have some balls sooner or later to just say what it is. You can’t provoke me to say it. I’m not built like that.”

What else did Deion Sanders say about it?

Sanders discussed this topic in an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Monday morning, when his team was off from practice but Sanders still had work to do, particularly for his sponsor Aflac, the insurance company. Aflac has helped amplify the chronic television exposure of Sanders this season with its frequent commercials featuring him and Alabama coach Nick Saban. His contract with the company also requires him to do a certain amount of interviews like this, in which he discussed why he never returns the verbal volleys from opposing coaches.

“Even when I played, everybody thought I talked,” said Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. “I never talked (negatively about opponents). I just really had a good time with the media, and I talked about me. I never spoke of my opponent. You can’t find one clip of me ever speaking negatively or about my opponent, period. I don’t believe in that. I don’t condone that.”

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Kickoff time set for CU at Arizona State (4:30 p.m., MT) 

From … The Colorado Buffaloes football game at Arizona State on Saturday, October 7, 2023, will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. MT/3:30 p.m. local time and be televised by Pac-12 Networks, the conference announced Monday morning.

The full schedule of Pac-12 games is below:

Week 6 lineup: Saturday, October 7, 2023 

12:00pm PT – Washington State at UCLA (Pac-12 Network)

3:30pm PT / 4:30pm MT – Colorado at Arizona State (Pac-12 Network)

7:00pm PT – Oregon State at Cal (Pac-12 Network)

7:30pm PT – Arizona at USC (ESPN)


Neill Woelk’s Takeaways from Oregon game

From … Back to work.

With a 42-6 loss to Oregon in the rearview mirror and a matchup with another top-10 team on the immediate horizon, Colorado’s Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders didn’t give his Buffaloes time to wallow in their misery after Saturday’s beatdown.

The message in the locker room was succinct.

“Get your butt up and let’s go,” Sanders told his players. “We ain’t got no time for a pity party. There’s nobody walking around the locker room with napkins and tissues. Get your butt up, get on that plane and let’s go. We got work to do.”

Indeed. Along with knocking the Buffaloes out of the top 25 polls, Saturday’s loss in Oregon identified a number of areas that need work — especially with No. 8 Southern California headed to Boulder on Saturday for a 10 a.m. national television matchup (Fox).

Our weekly takeaways:

1. Buffs must reduce the pressure on QB Shedeur Sanders. Colorado’s quarterback has been sacked 22 times this year — 5.5 per game. That’s an unsustainable number, at least if the Buffs want to keep Sanders healthy for the season.

Not all the blame can be placed on the offensive line. Sanders stepped up and said after the game that he is holding the ball too long on occasion.

But that wasn’t the case for all seven sacks recorded by the Ducks. While Sanders refused to place any of the blame on the big fellas in charge of protecting him, there’s no doubt CU’s offensive line had some issues with Oregon’s pass rush.

The Ducks provided a blueprint for how to disrupt CU’s offense. It will be up to the Buffs to figure out a way to make sure that blueprint isn’t executed on a weekly basis.

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Coach Prime: “You get your butt up and let’s go. We ain’t got time to have no pity party”

From the Daily Camera … Following the worst loss of his career as a college head coach, Colorado’s Deion Sanders said the message to his team would be simple.

“You get your butt up and let’s go,” Sanders said after the Buffaloes’ 42-6 loss at Oregon on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. “We ain’t got time to have no pity party. Ain’t nobody walking around the locker room with napkins and tissues. Get your butt up, let’s get on that plane and let’s go. We got work to do.”

As head coach at Jackson State the previous two years, Sanders and his Tigers rolled through SWAC competition, going 16-0. Facing Oregon was a much different animal, ending his personal conference winning streak, but Sanders insists it wasn’t because of a gap in talent.

“No definitely not,” he said. “If we had a talent gap, we wouldn’t be 3-1 right now. It’s not a talent gap. We just got our butt kicked. It just happens sometimes. It’s just like a fighter. You just got caught; it happens. It’s not a huge talent gap. I just think they played a really concise game.”

Now, Sanders has to balance using some tough love with the players, while also trying to build up their confidence.

“I think the film is gonna speak for itself when they watch the film with their position coaches and as an offense and a defense,” Sanders said. “But singularly you’re able to pull some guys aside and pick them up and highlight some of the good things that …  everyone didn’t play bad. Everyone didn’t do bad. Every coach didn’t coach bad. That’s not the case, but we got some work to do and you’d better get us right now. Because I like what I see. I love it. I know I have on shades, but I can see the future. It looks really good. So I’m excited about it, I really am.”

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Coach Prime’s honesty refreshing in the world of coach-speak: “Our confidence offends your insecurity. That’s a problem with you, it’s not us”

From The Athletic … For many reasons not worth digging into for this column, college football has slowly devolved into a sport of sanitization built upon cliched rhetoric and empty words devoid of emotion in a game that’s deeply emotional for everyone involved.

This season, we’ve seen example after example of coaches no longer embracing that ethos. Is it a fluke? Or are we witnessing a sea change?

I’m rooting for the latter.

We ought to encourage a little more honesty in college football, rather than shame the coaches who dare to speak their true feelings into a microphone. (Many applauded Day’s impassioned reaction. Many derided it.) Until this season, it had become a lost art.

After upsetting TCU in the season opener, Colorado coach Deion Sanders went after the people who thought he was more a sideshow and less a person serious about coaching college football.

“I deflect a lot of things, but I’m human, so I feel some things,” Sanders said then. “What we accomplished out there today, ain’t none of y’all believed that. Maybe a couple of y’all that knew me and knew how I got down. They know I’m a winner. I’m going to end up winning. Ain’t none of y’all thought you were going to be sitting up here. You thought you were supposed to be on the other side, interviewing them. Or coming and asking me, ‘What happened? You said this and you said that.’ Yeah, now what? Now what? Everybody quiet now.”

There are a lot of reasons why Sanders’ team has gotten an outsized amount of attention to this point, and some of it is because he’s honest about how he’s feeling. He does it over and over again and with eloquence and flair. He has a way with words. He’s the only college football coach in history to nearly sign with Death Row Records.

But even when he’s at his most bombastic, his words are almost always based (mostly) in truth and self-confidence, infuriating some while delighting others.

“People around the country will say, ‘This is what they needed to humble themselves,’” Sanders said after his team took a thorough beating from Oregon on Saturday. “We wasn’t arrogant or whatever. We’re confident people. Our confidence offends your insecurity. That’s a problem with you, it’s not us. We expect to do well. We expect to play well. We expect to win every game.”

His pragmatically provocative program is reaping the dividends. Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” might be served with a restraining order by season’s end after announcing plans to set up shop at a fourth Colorado game in five weeks. He amplified a personal attack from Colorado State coach Jay Norvell and turned a 10 p.m. ET kickoff against a rival that hasn’t reached a bowl game since 2017 into the most-watched game of the season to date.

It’s a playbook straight from boxing’s heyday or professional wrestling. Storylines drive attention. Yes, college football is a sport. But it’s supposed to be entertainment. And those who build storylines attract eyeballs from those not personally invested in your success or failure. Suddenly, they care.

Are coaches feeling a bit more emboldened seeing Sanders’ approach pay off with unprecedented attention? It behooves them to lean in.

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17 Replies to “Colorado Daily – USC Week”

  1. I’m hoping all of you saw in the news that Travis Hunter invited the CSU player Henry Blackburn for a night out of bowling. A public display of putting things in the past. In our time of internet anger and angst, that is a refreshing display of character and class.

  2. LOL I like the confidence there Rick! But I don’t think you need to worry too much this week. And if by some miracle of a chance they pull off the grand daddy of all upsets- lighten up Francis

  3. Nice to see Landman in the NFL, he didn’t have the measurables to get drafted, but you really can’t measure desire and instinct.

    1. I agree. The guy was always in the right spot and it was hard for the opposing team to stop him from doing what he intended to do.

  4. Is it only the sec that imposed the $100k fee, paid to the visiting team/school, for storming the field?

    Must be, or Rick would have included that?

    Having said that, if the Buffs win against usc, storming the field would seem appropriate.

    Go Buffs

  5. Honestly, on fans rushing the field, I have’t ever heard of a player getting seriously injured or even a minor one; sure they get upset when they are surrounded by celebrating fans for the home team but I can’t go with RG on this at all.

  6. So Stuart, question, since CU is breaking ratings records all over the place, what limitations are there on ESPN/ABC/FOX on taking all the CU games? I mean its a HUGE windfall for broadcaster who gets the game. I imagine there has to be some kind of limitation similar to the NFL games.

    1. Each team is required to have at least two games on the Pac-12 Network. This is not usually a problem for CU, which has been the standard bearer for the Pac-12 for years.
      A good example: USC’s first two games this season (San Jose State, Nevada), were on the Pac-12 Networks. This frees up the Trojans to have the rest of their games this season up for selection by the networks each week.
      The CU/ASU game is set for the Pac-12 Networks, so CU will have one more game, perhaps Arizona, relegated to the Pac-12 Networks (Stanford is a Friday night game, so it’s already spoken for). Otherwise, plan on seeing CU as a featured game as long as the interest holds.

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