It's fitting, then, that the first team in the final 50 is Colorado, which has struggled mightily under fifth-year coach Dan Hawkins and is one of the nation's biggest mystery teams this season. Hawkins looked like a great fit when he was hired away from Boise State to replace Gary Barnett, but while Boise State has climbed even higher under Chris Petersen, Colorado is scrabbling to regain a foothold. The Buffs represented the Big 12 North in the league championship game in 2001, '02, '04 and '05, but they've been to just one bowl under Hawkins and have finished under .500 each season. There are some who are surprised that Hawkins is back for another go-round, so that adds some intrigue to this season. So, too, does Colorado's recent announcement that it is bolting for the Pac-10; the Buffs could be playing a Pac-10 schedule next fall.
"About a month ago, I would've said that I'm going to UCLA," Berglund said. A phone call last week from CU offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau changed that. "It was probably the first time I talked to him since that (UCLA) visit," Berglund said. "The relationship we have is real special. I think we can do a lot of good things (at CU)." Berglund is the consensus pick as the top quarterback in the state for the 2011 class, according to recruiting services Rivals.com and Scout.com. Rivals rates him as the 13th-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
National signing date in February is way off in the distance. If Hawkins and his coaching staff are dumped, would Berglund reconsider his college choice? "The people were the No. 1 thing on my sheet when I listed what I was looking for in a school, because I don't want to be around people I don't like for five years. So if CU lost everybody and everything changed in terms of the coaching staff, I would look at it again," Berglund said. "But I don't see that happening. I see (the Buffs) winning eight or nine games this year. I see them being successful." Standing tall in the pocket at 6-feet-4 and possessing the speed of a sprinter capable of running 200 meters in less than 23 seconds, Berg- lund in no way resembles Cody Hawkins as a quarterback. And that's a good thing.
The current edition of The Sporting News ranks all 120 NCAA FBS teams and has Colorado at No. 74. Players or coaches from various schools are quoted for their reaction, among them CU running backs coach Darian Hagan. Hagan believes Colorado is underrated. "Seventy-four will prove to be too low," Hagan said. "I think when people see what we do this fall, they’re going to be surprised. "The coaches won’t be — we know what we’ve got — but those who have written us off before the season even starts I firmly believe will wind up being surprised."
Ten fresh new faces for 2010 Toney Clemons, WR, junior, Colorado: Michigan was his only recruiting trip. Then in two seasons Clemons, a four-star recruit, caught only 12 passes. Colorado needs a lot of help. Receiver doesn't seem to be one of those areas. Combining with 2009 leading receiver Scotty McKnight, Clemons can help scatter-armed quarterbacks Tyler Hansen and Cody Hawkins.
Alec Burks, 6-6 sophomore wing, Colorado: I watched Burks back in the day and thought he’d be a steal for somebody and seeing his silky-smooth handle, mid-range J, deep range, great length and versatility on the perimeter all give defenders fits, it’s easy to see why he absolutely killed the Big 12 as a freshman.
4) Nate Solder/Colorado: This is the first surprise. Solder’s verified computer numbers (6080/302lb/4.9) are outstanding. He’s also been a terrific tackle at CU the past two years. We feel he deserved a higher grade than 6.0. 2nd/3rd Round
4. Nate Solder, LT, Colorado: Based on their Halloween matchup alone, there’s no way Solder can rank ahead of Missouri’s Smith, who lined up against the Buffaloes’ left tackle almost exclusively in the Tigers’ 36-17 win. Smith finished with three sacks. As for Solder, he has otherwise been the rare standout on CU’s line, a group that was battered for a Big 12-worst 43 sacks last year. Among the Buffs’ best athletes — at 6-foot-9 and 300 pounds, he carries only 8 percent body fat — Solder led CU with seven blocks that contributed directly to touchdowns and was responsible for just three sacks.
Vegas Betting Odds to win the Big 12 Conference in 2010:
- Oklahoma +250
- Nebraska +250
- Missouri +650
- Kansas State +800
- Texas A&M +800
- Baylor +2000
- Colorado +1200
- Texas Tech +1200
- Kansas +1500
- Oklahoma State +2000
- Iowa State +3000