Twenty four losses in three seasons.
Not what Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins had in mind when he took over the Buffaloes in 2006, but a solid core of young players is beginning to emerge in Boulder.
If the Buffaloes can improve their quarterback play and find suitable replacements for the defensive line, they have a schedule favorable enough to give them a legitimate shot at a Big XII North title, and, if not the ten wins Dan Hawkins predicted for the season, eight or nine and a spot in the Cotton Bowl.
The Buffs? Really?
Colorado is an improved football team from 2008. Junior quarterback Cody Hawkins will be better behind an experienced offensive line, and has a stable of solid running backs with Stewart, Scott, Sumler, and Lockridge. The defense boasts solid linebackers lead by Jeff Smart, and a pair of the best corners in the conference.
The Buffs have a history of playing the hardest non-conference schedule of any Big XII team. This season however, they only play one BCS team at West Virginia, basically replacing teams they have recently played like Miami, Georgia, and Florida State, with a game at Toledo.
However, it's the conference schedule that has Buff fans excited. Colorado gets Big 12 North favorites Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska at home, and they will be looking to for revenge after losses to all of them last season.
They should survive trips to Iowa State and Kansas State, beat Texas A&M at home and lose at Texas. That would leave the three Big XII North home games and a late season Thursday night trip to Oklahoma State as the games that define the 2009 Buffaloes season.
Nebraska should be the most talented team in the division, but have to face fellow North division rivals Kansas and Missouri on the road, not to mention the season finale at Colorado, looking for revenge after a 57-yard field goal ended their season last year.
Kansas boasts the best offensive weapon in the North, with Todd Reesing, but goes through a gauntlet during their last six games, and are the only North team to play Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.
The Buffs don't have a lot of stars on their roster. In fact, they don't have one player on one Big XII pre-season all-conference team. But they do have depth, especially on offense, and a lot of experience gained during an injury filled 2008 campaign.
On defense, the Buffs lost all of their 3-4 front, but they do return solid linebackers Jeff Smart, Shaun Mohler and BJ Beatty, and have one of the best cornerbacks in the country with Cha'pelle Brown.
I like Colorado in the thin mountain air. The Buffs have the tools to pound the football in 2009 and tire out opposing defenses. The offensive line suffered from inexperience and injuries in 2008, but tackle Nate Solder and guard Ryan Miller are two of the best in the Big XII. Look for sophomore's Rodney Stewart and Darrell Scott to become the best running back duo in the conference, leading Colorado and Dan Hawkins to their first winning season in four years, and a top two finish in the Big XII North.
2009 Colorado Football Schedule: