Now that the Colorado Buffaloes have gotten to the top of the Pac-12, the big question is can they stay there. The Buffs had a breakout season in 2016 winning 10 games and coming four victories shy of matching their entire win total since joining the conference in 2011. Yep, there were some lean years along the way, but Mike McIntyre has proven to be a program builder, he just didn’t get the chance to sustain his success at San Jose State before moving to Boulder. McIntyre isn’t going anywhere and neither are the Buffs, but overtaking USC in the South will be a chore.
2016 Record: 10-4 SU, 10-4 ATS, 5-9 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 7
National Championship Odds: +20000
Odds To Win Pac-12: +4000
A little over two decades ago the Buffs were a constant on the national stage. From 1989 to 1996 they won at least eight games and reached double figures five times. They were ranked in the top-20 in every final AP poll over that stretch, cracked the top-5 four times and were No. 1 in 1990.
Colorado returned to prominence last season winning 10 games for the first time since 2001 and ending an eight-year bowl drought. It was a season in the making since injuries ravaged the 2015 club. That season turned out to be a blessing for the Buffs, who turned that youth and inexperience into a veteran two-deep that won the Pac-12 South and played for the conference title.
The Buffs opened the season with four wins in their first six games, losing close battles to two of the top teams in the country in Michigan and USC. The loss to SC was Colorado’s only blemish on its league slate and they responded by winning six straight to win the division. The end of the season was rough with a 31-point loss to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship and a 38-8 setback to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl, but before that was the most fun in Boulder in a long time.
Success is often the product of a veteran roster and when those players leave the program, maintaining a high level of play is not always easy. The Buffs will have to deal with plenty of turnover as they try to become the first team to repeat as South Division champions. For the first time in four years the Buffs will have a new starting quarterback as Sefo Liufau is finally done.
But don’t worry there are plenty of weapons remaining on the offensive side. Liufau was one of those players who dealt with injuries the past few seasons and that gave Steven Montez a chance to run the offense. He put up big numbers in a win over Oregon and was steady in a loss to USC when filling in. Overall, he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,078 yards with nine touchdowns. Philip Lindsay proved to be one of the better backs in the conference last season running for 1,252 yards while adding another 493 on 53 receptions.
Colorado might not be as stingy on defense following the loss of eight starters and coordinator Jim Leavitt from a group that ranked 19th nationally in total defense and 20th in points allowed. Linebacker Rick Gamboa is a good one and will anchor the unit for new coordinator D.J. Eliot. A soft non-conference slate will allow the Buffs to iron out the wrinkles before league play begins against defending champ Washington. Another division title appears to be out of reach considering USC is in the same half, but the Buffs have arrived and a bowl game is a given.
Week 1: Colorado vs. Colorado State, Friday, September 1 (in Denver)
Week 2: Colorado vs. Texas State, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Colorado vs. Northern Colorado, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Colorado vs. Washington, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: Colorado at UCLA, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: Colorado vs. Arizona, Saturday, October 7
Week 7: Colorado at Oregon State, Saturday, October 14
Week 8: Colorado at Washington State, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Colorado vs. Cal, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: Colorado at Arizona State, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: Colorado vs. USC, Saturday, November 11
Week 12: OFF
Week 13: Colorado at Utah, Saturday, November 25
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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