Saturday, September 1, 2018

Colorado 45, Colorado State 13... Let's Not Get Too Excited

The 2018 Rocky Mountain Showdown (RMS) is over, and the Buffs are on their way back to Boulder with a 45-13 win. Good win. Big win. After last year's abysmal 5-7 record (including a 17-3 win over CSU), a win over Colorado State is good but not unexpected. Let's not make it bigger than it really is. 

Colorado has better athletes than CSU, and they play in a Power Five Conference. The Buffs are supposed to beat teams like Colorado State. Remember please that CSU lost at home last week to a Hawaii team they were favored to beat by 17 points.

Colorado was only favored over CSU by 7.5 points. That number, more than anything, shows that Colorado has not proved anything yet to the football betting community. Last year was a big disappointment and the bettors have not forgotten.

An important point to remember is that CU has won the last three RMS's by a combine score of 106-23. One of those years was the magical ten-win 2016 season. The other was the horrible 2017 season that featured only five wins. A big win this year was not out of the ordinary.

All that is guaranteed about the 2018 season is that the Buffs will win at least two of their games. The other non-conference game, on the road in Lincoln, Nebraska, presents a completely different issue.

Many fans are harping loudly on fan sites like this one that Colorado is sure to win because Nebraska is also down. They like to point out that Nebraska only won four games last year... but forget to mention that Colorado only won five. 

More important than the comparative won-lost records of last year is that fact that the game is being played in Lincoln, not Boulder. That means that the Buffs will be playing in front of around 90,000 fans, only a smattering of which will be rooting for Colorado.

Can the Buffs beat Nebraska in Lincoln? Sure they can. They've done it before. But they will need to be a whole lot better than they were against Colorado State.


Lest anyone think that I am just being negative, here are some positives. Remember though, that some of them could have been written before the game.

Steven Montez is a stud of a quarterback. His line against CSU was one of the best in the history of Colorado football. Now that Montez has a real QB coach, take advantage of his talent.

If I hear or read another comment about how great Sefo Liufau was, I will want to puke. Some of us are old enough to remember the great Colorado quarterbacks of the glory years. Darian Hagan, Kordell Stewart, Koy Detmer,  and Sal Aunese bring back such fond memories. I have no such memories of Liufau. Watching him have tizzy fits on the sideline so that he could stay in games against lesser teams to run up his stats made me sick.

Those other young men were devoted to their teams and winning. They only stat they were interested in was wins and losses. Sadly, Liufau was saddled with a QB coach and offensive coordinator (Brian Lindgren) that was obsessed with lesser stats than wins and losses.

Lindgren is gone now (thankfully), and the Buffs have Darrin Chiaverini calling the plays. I'll give Darrin this, I was happy with the variety of Buff plays... until they got way ahead. Then it reminded me of Lindgren.

Note to Darrin, when you finally let the backup QB's play, let them play the position. Handing off 20 straight times to run out the clock will not help if Montez gets hurt in Lincoln and you need Noyer or Lytle to lead the Buffs to a comeback victory.

When the dominant Colorado teams under Kordell Stewart got ahead, they didn't expect Koy Detmer to just hand off. They let him run the whole offense. Let the backups now do the same thing. The backups will be much happier and the Buffs will be in a much better position if they have to play with a game on the line.

The real test for the Buffs starts in Lincoln next weekend. A win would be stupendous. A loss would be hard but understandable if the Buffs play well. A beat down would be horrendous in the long term. The Pac-12 is one of the strongest conferences top to bottom in the country. If the Buffs want to earn a bowl game, they have to up their game immensely.

A win over CSU is expected. A win over Nebraska would be startling. A win over half their opponents in the Pac-12 would be amazing.

One step at a time, Buffs, one step at a time.


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