According to ESPN’s football power index (FPI), the Colorado Buffaloes will only be favored in one game the rest of the season. If the Buffs played each game as the projections foretell, they would finish just 6-6. They’re 5-0 right now.
So, yeah, let’s talk about that.
The Buffs have been consistently docked for their undefeated start because their competition has been weak. But undefeated is undefeated and the Buffs have done with that schedule what a good team should. Nebraska was better before CU laid out the blueprint on how to stop Adrian Martinez and they did fine in their comeback victory in a tough environment. Colorado State, New Hampshire and UCLA are all bad, but Colorado beat the hell out of them as they should have. Arizona State is a “good team” and the Buffs dominated them in the second half and would’ve built upon that 7-point difference if they hadn’t been content to run out the clock.
Colorado’s schedule has been easy, fine, but they still had to be good to come out with five decisive wins. Sometimes I wonder if CU would be respected more if they had lost at home to BYU to compliment their cupcake wins, like Wisconsin has. Or maybe they could have been blown out by LSU before beating up on FCS teams and the dregs of the ACC, as Miami has. It seems that to national viewers, playing someone good and losing is better than scheduling a team you think is going to be good, beating them, then seeing them quiver in the aftermath of their defeat.
FPI projects the Buffs to finish the season with one more win, a home game against the woeful Oregon State Beavers. They have road games left against Arizona and California, both of which have alternated between awful and mediocre, but CU is still the supposed underdog. They have home games against Utah and Washington State, too, but CU is a significant home underdog against one-dimensional teams. Road games at USC and Washington are very difficult, but does CU really have a 26% of beating USC, as FPI projects? It’s a long season yet to come, but this is frustrating.
Even beyond the projections, national writers have assumed Colorado to be the biggest pretender in college football. Just take a look at the content previewing CU’s game at USC. The Trojans, who have disappointed thus far but have tight victories over Washington State and Arizona, are touchdown favorites. Bud Elliott wrote for SB Nation that USC at -6.5 (the line is 7.0 now) was one of the easiest bets this week. “This is a perfect spot to bet the Trojans,” Elliott wrote. “Colorado is incredibly overrated due to the zero in its loss column. USC is off a bye and improving with its young skill talent.”
If there’s any reason I’m scared of USC, it is the bye week. It could be the ideal situation for their young talent to finally gel as a team. But even our friends at SB Nation are ignoring Colorado as an actually good team. (Spencer Hall is the exception; he always believes in us and we always believe in him.) It’s strange to read a sentence with “incredibly overrated” and “USC” and it not refer to the Trojans. This game is one USC should win, but we don’t even know if USC is good.
The overwhelming narrative is that Colorado, currently No. 19 in the nation, can’t possibly be good enough to have earned that ranking, that they would be an also-ran had they played good teams. Everyone in the industry is waiting for the bubble to burst. They waited in 2016, too, but the bubble never burst. Even if CU loses at USC and Washington — which is likely, in fact — that shouldn’t take away from what this team has done and will continue to do.
The 2016 team may have been divinely focused on a mission from god, but this 2018 team knows how to stay focused while playing loose. They’re talented, they’re passionate and they have fun playing this game. They know how to win and don’t care about anything else. Colorado is good, actually, and they’re here to stay.