The Colorado Buffaloes might go undefeated and not even win their own division. This would be impossible in a normal year, of course, and it’s only happening because the Buffs have come out of nowhere to have an outstanding team.
To even begin the discussion, Buffs will have to be entirely focused on the Utah Utes on Friday. That is not an opponent to play unfocused against; even in a transition year, they’re a disciplined team that requires four good quarters of football to beat. Colorado can’t sputter on offense like they did against San Diego State, nor can they start as slowly as they did against Arizona. It will be a great game of physical football that will test the fortitude of this team.
If the Buffs pull off the win on Friday, they will nervously watch USC-UCLA on Saturday. Colorado needs the Trojans to lose because they have one more conference win and would make the Pac-12 Championship in case of a tie. (Arizona State canceling meant CU had one fewer conference game, but USC would still win the tie-breaker by virtue of having a higher CFP ranking.)
It’s unfair that this is only on the table because USC canceled their game against CU. Just because it’s unfair, however, doesn’t mean Colorado is getting jobbed. This isn’t 2016, when the Buffs lost in the Pac-12 Championship and the conference opted to send USC to the Rose Bowl instead. Yes, USC-Penn State was the best game of the year, and yes Colorado would have given up 600 yards to Saquon Barkley, but that was a decision about brand and money more than it was about who deserved to be there.
If anything, all this rambling could be pointless. I may be burying the lede, but there’s a possibility that Colorado plays USC in the Pac-12 Championship. As Brian Howell pointed out, there might be few enough conference games played that the Pac-12 Championship would take the two teams with the highest winning percentages, which would be Colorado and USC.
For that to happen, not only would Washington-Oregon have to be canceled — and the game is currently up in the air with Washington pausing football activities — but two other Pac-12 games would have to be canceled this weekend. Obviously no one wants virus outbreaks to cancel those games, but it’s definitely interesting to watch play out in this twisted, virus-riddled season.
Even if Colorado doesn’t play in the title game — and that looks likely — they would still host the North runner-up with a chance to go undefeated in conference play. The Buffs haven’t gone into bowl season undefeated since 1989 and they haven’t finished undefeated since 1923. If we beat Utah, and the loser of Washington-Oregon, and whomever we play in the bowl game, we can do what we always expected: stake a claim to the 2020 National Championship.