The year is 2018 and the Colorado Buffaloes are fifth place in the Pac-12 South. We thought we would have moved further from the basement by now, and we did for just one year, but the universe is pulling us back down, perhaps where we belong.
At 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the Pac-12, this disaster has been much better than the lost seasons of year’s past, but potentially missing a bowl game after starting 5-0 would certainly qualify as a collapse. However, there is some optimism if you really want it! Just as CU has been a disaster of late, so has everyone else in the Pac-12 South.
Utah (4-3), the overall best team in the division, was riding high and hitting their stride, but things may have fallen apart in their Saturday loss at Arizona State. We dare not disrespect Utah fans — they will find this article and rub it in my face two weeks from now — but injuries have depleted an otherwise sterling team. Tyler Huntley broke his collarbone in the third quarter against ASU and they predictably collapsed without him. Utah is still the favorite in the South, but have Oregon and Colorado left. We don’t even know who’s going to be healthy for CU in that game, but freshman Jason Shelley is one of the few QBs who shouldn’t easily pick apart the Buffs’ defense.
In second place somehow, USC (4-3) is still growing through a difficult season. They have an easy schedule the rest of the way — Cal, at UCLA, and also Notre Dame, lol — so they could rise if Utah falls. But they’re injury-marred and contemplating firing their head coach (ha ha). They have serious issues that urgently need to be fixed before they can hope for stability. Maybe they find it. Maybe they fall apart.
Arizona (4-3) climbed up to third place after beating Colorado, but they should come back down on their way home from Washington State after their upcoming bye week. Arizona State (3-3) is at fourth and climbing after scoring 17 unanswered to upset Utah. They’re not as good as they are fortunate — they lost to CU after all — and they visit Oregon and Arizona, plus hosting UCLA.
UCLA (2-4) is definitely the worst team in the division, but they’ve actually been competitive as of late. It started with a close game at Washington, then they blew out Cal and beat a good Arizona team. They’re probably the second worst team in the Pac-12, but they could cause mischief.
The dream for Colorado is that they win out, but that’s not really realistic. Weird things happen in college football, but beating Washington State with that defense looks impossible. Otherwise, they need to beat Utah at home and Cal on the road to reach 7-5 and 4-5 in conference. USC having four wins in the bag and the tiebreak means CU can’t win the South unless they knock off Wazzu.
Now as CU fans impartial to the South standings, we can root for CHAOS. The dream is that everyone finishes with a 4-5 Pac-12 record and there becomes a six-way tie for first place. We need Utah to lose to Oregon and Colorado (possible!), USC to lose to Cal and UCLA (lol), Arizona to beat ASU and lose to Wazzu (probable), ASU to beat Oregon and lose to Arizona and UCLA (very unlikely), UCLA to beat USC and ASU and lose to Stanford (maximum chaos), and for CU to beat Utah and Cal (realistic). Should that happen, I don’t even know the tiebreakers in line, but it would be marvelous to see the Pac-12 sort through that pile of garbage to crown its division champ.