Monday, September 10, 2018

Colorado's Rivalry Games are Over - Now What?

Nothing creates a rivalry quite like time and repetition. Colorado opened the season with big wins over the two rival teams their fans care about most.

The first time Colorado played Nebraska was in 1898. Since then they have played 70 times. From 1948 - 2010, the Buffs and Huskers played every single year as members of the same conference (Big 8 and Big 12). Even though Nebraska leads the series 49-19-2, the rivalry had many years where both teams were upper echelon schools and the game had national or conference title implications.

The rivalry against Colorado State goes back even farther. The Buffs first played the Rams in 1893. Since then, they have played a total of 90 times. The Buffaloes own a commanding 66-22-2 edge in the series, but there have been numerous years where high expectations in Boulder were dashed by the upstart Rams.

In 1986, often called the turnaround year for Bill McCartney's Buffs, the season started with a 23-7 thrashing by Colorado State at Folsom Field. 

The Buffs went on to start the season 0-4 as grumblings about the direction of the Buffaloes were starting to grow ever stronger. Then the Buffs went on the road and beat Missouri. It was the first of five straight wins for Colorado. One of those was games was against #3 Nebraska. It was a shocking win and changed the program for a long time. 

After 1986, Colorado reeled off 8 straight wins against the CSU Rams and went 2-2-1 against the Cornhuskers. That was shocking because the Buffs only beat Nebraska once between 1962 and 1985. 

Winning three out of five against NU helped make Colorado a national powerhouse that would play for two national championships. They lost their first attempt to win the national title in 1989 but won the following year. In 1994, the only thing between another national title for the Buffs was a lone loss against... Nebraska, who did win the national championship. That's how fierce rivalries are made.

The next game is against New Hampshire. Yawn.

New Hampshire comes to Colorado with an 0-2 record. They lost to Maine and Colgate in their opening games. Safe to say that Colorado SHOULD win this one even if they let all their starters 
have the day off.

However, "should" does not always mean "will" in college football. In 2009, Colorado went on the road and played Toledo and got shellacked 54-38.

In 2011, the Buffs were roasted on the road by Hawaii 34-17.

In 2012, the worst year in the history of CU Buffs football, the teams started the season with a loss to Colorado State in Denver. They followed that with a 30-28 loss to FCS Sacramento State in Boulder. They next week they gave up 69 points to Fresno State in a 55 point loss.

What's the moral of the story here?

The Golden Buffs need to run roughshod over New Hampshire. Rest the guys who are dinged up after two big emotional wins. And, most importantly, let the backups get some real time playing. Let the backup QB's throw some passes. Let some freshman who they want to redshirt find out what it's like to play in a college game.

Most of all, get the win and get the team ready. Pac-12 play starts the following week and Colorado needs to start beating THOSE teams once in a while. That's the only way they will start building some rivalries in their new conference.

CU won only three conference games in their first three years in the Pac-12. All against the worst teams in the league. In 1986, the Buffaloes finally beat some good teams on their way to the Pac-12 South crown. They finally beat Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford, Arizona and UCLA for the first time since joining the Pac-12.

Last year, the Buffs fell backwards. They only won two conference games. Both against the worst teams in the league. This year the Buffaloes need to be a team worthy of building rivalries in the Pac-12. They've still never beaten USC. 

For the Buffs to be taken seriously in the Pac-12, they have to start winning conference games more often. Doing so builds rivalries. And rivalries are what makes college football so much fun.
 







 

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