Unlucky Thirteen … Hundred

It may have slipped past the stellar research crews at ESPN, but the Homecoming contest against Oregon State was a milestone game for the University of Colorado football program.

And not just because it was yet another sellout, CU’s ninth in nine games in 2023.

No. The 26-19 loss to No. 16 Oregon was the 1,300th game in CU history, a program which dates back to 1890. Over 134 seasons of collegiate football, the Buffs have run up a record of 723-541-36. The win total is good enough for 29th on the all-time list; the winning percentage of .570 is 42nd in the nation. While positive numbers historically, they are a far cry from where the Buffs were 20 years ago.

Hate to do this to you, but … Coming off of the 2003 season, the Buffs were 635-391-36, good enough for 15th on the all-time wins list; and 21st in all-time winning percentage (.615).

Yes, Virginia, it’s been that bad, and been that bad for a long time.

An entire generation of football players and fans have grown up not knowing Colorado as a winning football program. The move to the Pac-12, which seemed to be a great choice at the time, has been a disaster for the Buffs and their fans.

Check out these historical numbers …

  • COLORADO RECORD OVERALL … 1,300 games …  723-541-36 … .570

CU in CONFERENCE GAMES … 815 games … 435-355-25 … .551

  • Colorado Football Association (1893-1908) … 48 games … 35-11-2 … .750
  • Colorado Athletic Conference (1909) … 3 games … 3-0-0 … 1.000
  • Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (1910-37) … 163 games … 104- 50-9 … .666
  • Mountain States Conference (1938-47) … 50 games … 33-13-4  … .700
  • Big Seven Conference (1948-57) … 70 games … 34-32-4 … .514
  • Big Eight Conference (1958-95) … 252 games … 138-108-6 … .560
  • Big 12 Conference (1926-2010)… 120 games … 60-60-0 … .500
  • Pac-12 Conference (2011-23) … 108 games … 28-81-0 … .256

Anything in the above list stand out to you?

Colorado had never had a losing record in conference play until the Buffs sank into the Pacific ocean. Even when the Buffs were a part of the Big Eight, when for years it was the “Big Two and the Little Six”, CU more than held its own. Even in the Big 12, which included all five years of the Dan Hawkins debacle, the Buffs walked away with a .500 conference record.

Conference championships? Colorado has 26 in its history, the 12th-highest total in the nation. Except for the 1950s, when Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma Sooners dominated the Big Seven (and the nation), the Buffs recorded at least one conference title in every decade from the 1890s to the 2010s. The 2000s were covered by the Buffs’ 2001 Big 12 championship, but it has been a 22-year drought since, by far the longest run without a title in school history.

The Buffs have not just lost games as a member of the Pac-12 … they haven’t been close to being successful. Heading into the Oregon State game, the Buffs were trailing in the all-time series against the Beavers, 7-6. Since joining the conference, the Buffs have held their own against the Beavers as well as they have against anyone, and even that is now a 4-5 record over the past dozen years.

Against everyone else in the conference? Well, don’t even ask.

Which was why, when the 2024 Big 12 schedules were announced this past week, I did a little happy dance. The Pac-12 has been an unmitigated disaster for the program … some of that is on the coaches hired; some of that is on the administration which turned a blind eye to the evolution of the college football landscape; and some of it was just poor timing, with CU joining the league at the absolute low point in the program’s history.

Which begs the question: How quickly can Colorado turn the page and return to the Big 12? 

Against the Pac-12, Colorado has a losing record against pretty much everybody.

Against the Big 12, as it will be constituted in 2024, Colorado has a winning record against pretty much everybody.

When the Buffs joined the Pac-12, CU had winning records against several of its new conference foes, but, as the Buffs have been mired in something well short of mediocrity over the past decade-plus, all-time winning records have turned into all-time losing records.

Coach Prime, who fell below .500 with the Oregon State loss, will have his work cut out for him this off-season if his team limps home with a 4-8 record … and a record of losing eight of its last nine games of the season. The loss to the Beavers was not wholly unexpected, but the 26-19 final score was not indicative of how poorly the CU offense played (minus-seven yards of rushing offense for a team which was supposed to emphasis the run this week; 75 yards of total offense before two consolation touchdowns allowed CU to make the final score respectable).

“The reason it’s so hard is because you know you’re capable of doing better, playing better, performing better, calling better games, coaching better on my behalf and you are coming up short when you have enough to get the job done,” Coach Prime said. “It’s painful. It hurts myself, the team and all the coaches, the fans”.

CU fans have seen this script before … way too many times before. There is still plenty of reason for optimism about CU’s near future … There is plenty of talent on the roster – far more than in recent years, and Coach Prime will be able to at least try to shore up his deficient lines through the Transfer Portal this off-season.

Plus, when Coach Prime and the Buffs get to 2024, the path to success won’t be as hard.

Compare CU’s 2023 Pac-12 conference schedule to CU’s 2024 Big 12 conference schedule, and you can see why there is reason for optimism moving forward:

CU’s 2023 Pac-12 conference schedule ….

  • at No. 10 Oregon … Oregon has a 8-1 record in 2023 … CU has a 9-16 all-time record v. Ducks
  • No. 8 USC … 8-2 … 0-17 all-time
  • at Arizona State … 2-7 … 4-10 all-time
  • Stanford … 3-6 … 6-7 all-time
  • at No. 23 UCLA … 6-3 … 5-14 all-time
  • No. 16 Oregon State … 7-2 … 6-8 all-time
  • Arizona … 6-3 … 16-9 all-time
  • at Washington State … 4-5 … 6-7 all-time
  • at No. 18 Utah … 7-2 … 32-34-3 all-time

Nine conference games … five of the nine against ranked teams (unranked Washington State was ranked as high as 14th earlier this season; Arizona might well be ranked when the Buffs play them next weekend … and that doesn’t include the non-conference game against No. 17 TCU) … six of the nine opponents with winning records this season … eight of the nine with all-time series advantages against Colorado.

Now, compare …: 

CU’s 2024 Big 12 opponents (dates to be announced; four road games; five home games) …

  • at Arizona … 6-3 record in 2023 … 16-9 all-time record v. Wildcats
  • at Texas Tech … 4-5 … 5-5 all-time
  • at Central Florida … 4-5 … never played
  • at No. 21 Kansas … 7-2 … 42-25-3 all-time
  • No. 18 Utah … 7-2 … 32-34-3 all-time
  • Baylor … 3-6 … 9-7 all-time
  • No. 23 Kansas State … 6-3 … 45-20-1 all-time
  • No. 22 Oklahoma State … 7-2 … 26-20-1 all-time
  • Cincinnati … 2-7 … 1-0 all-time

Nine conference games … four of the nine against ranked teams (with Kansas State likely dropping out after its loss to Texas on Saturday) … five of the nine with winning records this season … all-time series advantages against six of seven, with CU tied with Texas Tech and playing Central Florida for the first time. CU’s only losing record against a team they will play in the Big 12 next year is fellow transferee, Utah, and that’s only but a 32-34-3 count, a series CU led until the Pac-12 years.

The difference in all-time games between the teams CU is leaving, and the one CU is joining, could not be more stark:

  • Against teams in the 2023 Pac-12, Colorado has an all-time record of 96-142-4 … .404 winning percentage
  • Against teams in the 2024 Big 12, Colorado has an all-time record of 188-87-7 … .679 winning percentage

That’s a pretty significant gap, my friends.

True enough, past results are not indicative of future performance.

But the Colorado football program has been mired in a rut for almost two decades. The Buffs went into the Pac-12 with Jon Embree as its head coach, was immediately sent to the basement, and had the door locked behind them (another stat worth noting … In CU’s history in the Big Seven, the Big Eight, and the Big 12, the Buffs never finished alone at the bottom of the conference standings. NEVER. As a member of the Pac-12, the Buffs set up shop in the cellar and never really left).

Sometimes, a change of scenery can be a good thing. A new job, a new town, a new significant other, can bring about a fresh perspective and renewed optimism.

So too it will be with the CU football program as the Buffs begin play on games 1,300 to 1,400. A season-salvaging win would bring about less criticism from the national media this off-season, but that may not be forthcoming.

There had been hopes that the Buffs’ Homecoming game against Oregon State, No. 1,300 in the CU record book, would bring about an upset. Instead, the the 26-19 loss to No. 16 Oregon State was just another frustrating loss.

Another frustrating Pac-12 loss.

Bring on the Big 12!

P.S. When looking back at CU’s 1,300 games, I noted in the CU record book that game 800 in Buff history was the 11th game of the 1981 season, my sophomore year in Boulder. Taking into account the other ten games of 1981, and the 11 games of the 1980 season, that means that I have been a Buff fan now for 521 of CU’s 1,300 all-time games. That works out to just over 40% of every game Colorado has played in its history.

I don’t know what is more astonishing to me about that number … that I have been a part of over 40% of the games played in CU’s 134-year history … Or that I have been in on 40% of CU’s history, and wasn’t even a fan of the Buffs until I was 18 years old!


10 Replies to “Unlucky Thirteen … Hundred”

  1. I have been thinking about how to give QB Sanders time to throw.
    So, I am watching today’s Saints-Bears game, and the Saints need 2 yards for a really important first down. They run a play with a Defensive lineman (a monster) in motion, as he runs by the QB the ball is napped and the QB follows the monster who easily takes out the defensive end and the QB gets the first down.
    For the Buffs, take out a receiver and a running back, and put in 2 of the most nimble and athletic big guys from offense or defense. Have them stand on each side of QB Sanders. They can stop the rushers who get by the turn-style O-Line. It might save the QB from eventual injury.
    When it’s short of the goal line and the QB is going to run for it, start from the shot gun and have the 2 big boys get a running start to blow up the D-Line with the QB to follow.

  2. Congratulations you publicly humiliated your rising star OC in favor of… That. About Fifty yards at half with negative rushing yards. On the game there was like ten total RB hand-offs, of which five were Dylan Edwards not knowing how to follow his blocks. You left LT GeraldLichtenhan on an island all day, in a game plan that must have been specifically designed so showcase him getting destroyed over and over as a way to, uhm, punish him or something?

    Truly awful coaching.

    When they scored in the fourth I was asking myself “who is calling the plays right now?” hoping it was back to Lewis.

    Assume Lewis leaves in the next few weeks for a better job. Wish him well.

  3. 20 years of fecal matter, although it does not smell as bad. Build from the inside out! Cannot bring in a new oline coach again. Go get some HS recruits and build them up. The transfer portal of MAC and JC transfers is not the answer. And please Prime spend more time coaching and cut down the commercials.

  4. Stuart, thanks for your dedication to capturing the heart of CU football, win or lose.

    At this point in the season looking back more than forward, it seems to me we have a head coach who has been squarely focused on getting his quarterback son into a position to hopefully win the Heisman. One way or another, Coach Sanders has said the “Heisman” word every week at his post-game press conferences and, quite frankly, I honestly believe he’s completely lost his direction, if he ever had it to begin with. This can be the only reason he is not willing to run the football when it’s obvious he must. And now, changing play callers produced even less yards rushing! Why? Because Coach Sanders is committed to getting passing numbers for his son…numbers that point toward Heisman trophies. Too bad, for it’s actually backfiring on his son and hurting the team. Agree or disagree?

    1. IMO, Coach Prime’s number one (unspoken and perhaps even subconscious) priority appears to be to get his sons into the NFL with an emphasis on Shedeur. So, pass virtually all the time. Get those stats up for Shedeur. Looking at Sean Lewis’ past experience, he had balanced offense with slight emphasis on rushing. Now a change to Shurmur? Tim Brewster move? What is going on behind the scenes with coaches? And CP is not going to be transparent about it? Whether my questions are getting “warm” or not doesn’t matter. When many start wondering, perception becomes reality and CP starts losing credibility and respect. Longer- term fans remember the Dan and Cody Hawkins nepotism dynamics. Let’s hope we are not seeing the second coming of those issues. Team first.

      1. Considering they have a commit from the top QB prospect in the country I’d say you’re overreacting. HWSRN couldn’t recruit a decent QB because of Cody’s presence – everyone knew he’d paly come hell or high water. Cody was an OK QB and put up a lot of numbers, but was never considered a pro prospect or a Heisman candidate. Sheduer is both. The commenters on this site have to be some of the shortest sighted folks with the shortest memories of all time.

        Coach Prime, his coaches and his players are in the process of overcoming not only an historically bad 1-11 2022 season, but 20 years of incompetent coaching and probably more importantly, incompetence bordering on malfeasance by DiStefano and his ilk.

        1. Hear hear. And probably longer. We benefited significantly from a very weak big 12 north that hid some of the festering problems.

          Go Buffs

        2. Good morning, 83BUFF. I read your reply and became confused because I agree with your comments regarding Shedeur’s talent, Cody, and certainly your last paragraph. Shedeur is the real deal and deserves the job. So I reflected and realized that it was probably my choice of the word “nepotism”. In looking at the definition of the word, that is not what I was searching for. My concern is that when a father has a son on the team, he is obviously going to have a deep emotional connection with him. He wants to see his son succeed and not get hurt, both of which are now at risk for this particular season. The O coordinator is in the sandwich between Coach Prime and Shedeur. Not an enviable place to be for any O coordinator. So I am unsure what the word is rather than nepotism. What I really want to see, for next year, is recruiting in both trenches, perhaps new line coaches, and a balanced offense with a strong rushing attack. The inability, and even the attempt, to run the ball and the incredible bungling at the end of the first half where multiple passes where attempted in a clear rushing situation may have gotten the best of me after going to yet another game at 8 pm and getting home in the morning.

          1. I think we all want to see some big, fast, smart linemen. Deion does, for sure. He focused on the outside in approach because he knew he’d have more success there. And, it’s worked. You don’t get the four wins we got without those guys.

            For the big fellas who are dudes? Prime’s said, they’re not easy to get. Heck, CU’s had maybe a sprinkling of them over the last 20yrs; Solder, Bahktiari, maybe Miller, maybe one or two other on offense? Defense?

            I think that now at least they can say “hey, we got a QB. We got stud receivers. We got pretty good backs. Come pave the way.”

            It was either Nigel Burton or Shane Vereen saying something like “look, Prime and those coaches aren’t dumb. They’ve tried some max protect, and still get beat by 3 or 4 rushers, so? Just go spread and hope Shedeur doesn’t get killed, cause at least they can move the ball doing that.”

            We’ll see how it goes these next three weeks. I like our odds in Pullman!

            Here’s to hoping for a nice upset with AZ this weekend.

            Go Buffs

  5. I dont need to be reminded how the Buffs have the 29th winning record in history. It isnt that good and its fading fast. Mostly because that was the corn cobbs schtick for quite a while. Funny I haven’t heard much about from them about that it lately.
    For 3 quarters and 5 minutes the O was even worse than it has been. Its down to a 3 play play book.
    1. The redundant pass play out to the flat that was immediately tackled until we weren’t even completing them
    2. The hand off to mostly Edwards again standing right beside Shedeur into the line. No motion no ball fakes….no nothing.
    3. The sack or run for your life until you are sacked or throw it away. I can remember when Shedeur used to be able to make great throws on the run but now it appears he is so rattled and bet up his accuracy is suffering.
    Thats it folks the 3 play game. The announcers kept asking why there wasnt anything different. they kept saying why the O line wasn’t getting any help and even made suggestions maybe hoping the Buff’s coaching would hear them. At one point they asked why they bothered changing OCs.
    At the end of the half it was 2 pass to the flat plays incomplete and then at 3 and l0 on your own 5 yard line you hand the ball off to Edwards straight into the middle. Bada bing Beave TD in the next 30 seconds.
    I almost went to bed at that point. I had some chores to do first. Came back to the game when it looked like Staub might come in. He didnt and Shedeur actually guided the team to a TD, Why?
    BECAUE THEY ACTULLY TRIED SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Three pass routes across the middle an area they have considered radioactive all season. First a drag route, second a slant. A slant?” are you kidding me? and then a sir down squarely in the middle where Travis was able to get YAC for the score.
    It was like the beaves had grown so numb to the 3 play offense the got caught with their pants down. Too little too late so I went to bed anyway. Looks like they actually managed another score.
    I think they call that garbage time. 90 percent of our game on O was garbage time. The beaves could have been beat last night by an average offense.
    After watching the WA USC game which was 2 beautiful y designed offenses, watching the Buff’s O was like a nightmare. Both teams are heavy passing Os but their run games were nicely designed as well. Lots of misdirection and excellent ball fakes for USC. Great pulling and cross blocking techniques for WA.
    If I was RG the entire coaching staff on O jobs would be hanging by a thread. We get a repeat of this game, minus garbage time of course, and they would all be gone including Sanders. He brought his kid, the only really bright spot on this team, but its like he is also making him a human sacrifice.
    You could bring in most any coach in who could draw things up on the sideline on the clip board during the game and during a game and it would not only be better but the poor O players, tired of banging their head against the wall would be thrilled too.
    mike drop

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