Colorado Still Alive in a Strong Big 12 Stampede

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IOctober 22, 2008

The Colorado Buffaloes knew they were up against it coming into this season. Looking at the season with the young Buffs at times showed some cracks in Coach Hawkins.  He really didn’t need to look at the schedule—it was the fortress on the hill his team was going to attempt to scale anyway.

The best part about Boulder is that it’s right at the base of the Rocky Mountains and climbers often test their climbing wares on the local Flatirons rock formations.  With that as a solid reminder of the task the University of Colorado football team was about to embark on, Coach Hawkins looked for the vein, the path climbers seek on their ascent up a rock surface. 

Hearing Hawk speak before the season got going, you could tell he might just be happy enough with a season that would put the Buffs at 6-6, hoping for another Bowl berth.

Dan stated an old adage in August that deserves another mention.  On saying what he’s said to his team, Coach Hawk said, "You know life asks to be your best every day, but our schedule demands it."

Hawk knew his team was up against it, and he knew they had a great deal of work to do to remain competitive this year while trying to grow the program for years to come.   

At the official midway point, the Buffs were 3-3, and they are currently 4-3.  Being in the Big 12 Conference these days means you are playing not just some of the best teams in your conference, but some of the best teams in the entire nation.

Shortly after the Buffs were manhandled by Texas, the Horns went out the next week and dumped No. 1 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  Now the Longhorns are ranked No. 1 in the nation

But that isn’t the amazing thing.  What stands out is the number of top teams from the Big 12 in the Top 25 listing.  Besides Texas, there is Oklahoma (No. 4), Oklahoma State (No. 7), Texas Tech (No. 8), Missouri (No. 16), and Kansas (No. 19).  That is a total of six teams in the Big 12 in the AP Top 25 list that came out this week.

The SEC only has four in the Top 25 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and LSU), and CU was the second team to knock off preseason darling West Virginia, a team many picked to finish first in the nation.  These rankings will change soon because of head to head matchups on the horizon, but this is still a vital acknowledgement.

In addition to the rankings, the Big 12 also boasts some of the best quarterback play on the national scene as well.

Currently David Johnson from Tulsa is the top-rated passer in the nation, but immediately on his coattails are Sam Bradford (OU), Zac Robinson (OSU), Colt McCoy (UT), and Chase Daniel (UM) at positions two through five, followed by Graham Harrell (TTU) at the eight spot.  Factor in total offense, and Todd Reesing from KU makes the list. 

Without a doubt, Coach Hawk in all his wisdom was on the money in looking at the Colorado schedule.  That is just the balance it takes in being a head coach.  Coaches have to make their team believe and execute, yet they also have to be realistic that there are other highly talented programs that want to win just as desperately.

In Colorado’s case, many of those other programs are more experienced than this young Buffaloes team is.  At this point it’s important to keep that in mind.

While QB Hawkins has had a disappointing season thus far, he’s shown he is a team player and that he can still bounce back as a player.  This time next year it’s very possible the Buffs may have Tyler Hansen or even Cody Hawkins as one of the top passers in the nation.

Three of the five remaining games the Buffs have are against nationally ranked conference opponents.  If the Buffs win out, that would certainly exceed any expectations at this point.

Should the Buffs win one or two from the ranked teams and still be able to beat Iowa State in Boulder and Nebraska in Lincoln, this could still be looked at as a highly successful season given the season schedule.

Say the Buffs go 6-6—Coach Hawkins had a pretty realistic outlook on the season. Less than that, however, is probably inexcusable. 

For now, the Buffs are still looking strong enough and very much in the stampede of becoming one of the perennial national powers coming out of the Big 12 conference—if not this season, then very soon.

The remaining regular season games for CU are as follows.

Sat, Oct. 25:  Missouri at Columbia, Mo.

Sat, Nov. 1:  Texas A&M at College Station, Texas  



Fri, Nov. 28:  Nebraska at Lincoln, Neb.