Buffs at the Quarter Poll
Colorado is 3-0 for the first time since 2004, and on the verge of being ranked for the first time since November, 2005. So what’s not to like?
First, there is the issue of consistency
The Buffs almost lost to Eastern Washington of the FCS. The Eagles are a good team, but still a FCS team, and it took two touchdowns in the last three minutes to pull out a 31-24 win.
Against a much better West Virginia team, the Buffs went scoreless for the final 55 minutes of regulation before securing a 17-14 overtime win. The Mountaineers have finished in the top 10 the last three seasons, but will not this season. Colorado had three chances for scores in the second quarter with the opportunity to pull away, but failed in each attempt.
Second, there is the parallel issue of youth
The starting quarterback for Colorado is a sophomore. The leading rushers are freshmen. The leading receivers are sophomores. The offensive line has one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen starting.
Young players make youthful mistakes, and, as conference play begins, teams familiar with Colorado will look to exploit the Buffs and their weaknesses.
Finally, there is the schedule
The West Virginia game is the start of a gauntlet few teams would envy. Up next is a road trip to Jacksonville to play Florida State. Big 12 conference play begins with a home game against Texas, then a trip to Kansas. A home game against Kansas State offers the Buffs the only October game against a team which has not been ranked this season, as the game against the Wildcats is followed by a road trip to Columbia to face national title contending Missouri Tigers.
So, where is the optimism?
Mostly, it is being withheld for 2009. Colorado will be more experienced next season, and the schedule is more conducive for a title run. For now, Buff fans will have to savor the big win over West Virginia, and prepare for the next challenge.
With three wins in the bank, a bowl opportunity seems, at least now as the leaves begin to fall, a strong likelihood. Still, with the quality of opponents that lay ahead, and the youth and inexperience the Buffs still put on the field of play, a winning season and a bowl bid are still realistic and positive goals for 2008.
For more on Colorado football, including a complete recap of the Buffs' 17-14 overtime win over West Virgnina, log on to http://www.cuatthegame.com