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Colorado Buffaloes Football: A difficult road ahead in 2020

With preseason college football rankings comes the first evaluation of CU’s 2020 schedule

NCAA Basketball: Northern Iowa at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason ranking for the 2020 college football season were announced Thursday. Three Pac-12 teams made the cut in the top 25 with the Colorado Buffaloes’ week one opponent Oregon ranked the highest at No. 9., followed by USC at No. 17 and Utah at No. 20.

A big takeaway from the release is those three schools are scheduled to play CU in the first four weeks of the season. As previously mentioned, the Buffs head to Eugene, Ore. to open the season vs. the Ducks on Saturday, Sept. 26, before coming back to Boulder for an early-season Rumble in the Rockies meeting with Utah the following week on Oct. 3. The Buffs catch a break by going to Arizona on Oct. 10, en route to Southern California to play USC on Saturday, Oct. 17. This will be Colorado’s latest season opener in 59 years, or since Sept. 30, 1961, when CU blanked Oklahoma State, 24-0.

The Buffs have faced three ranked opponents in the first month of the season three times in recent history. Most recently in the 2000 season. Colorado suffered a 17-14 road loss in Los Angeles at the hands of then-No. 11 USC on Sept. 9. That before dropping back-to-back home games vs. then-No. 9 Washington by a similar score on Sept. 16 and a 44-21 meltdown vs. then-No. 5 Kansas State on Sept. 30. The other two instances were in 1994 and 1997, respectfully.

Colorado has opened the season against a top ten opponent four times since 1960. The most recent was a “Disney deadlock” during their 1990 national championship run against No. 8 Tennessee, a 31-31 tie at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. on August 26. The Buffaloes also played the 9th ranked LSU Tigers in both the 1974 and 1971 contests. Before the Bayou Tigers, Colorado took on top-ranked USC to open the 1963 season with a 14-0 loss at Folsom Field.

The remainder of CU’s 2020 schedule sees them at home in four of the final six games. A Halloween affair in Boulder with Arizona State. The Buffs then make a lone trip to the State of Washington for a Friday Night Lights: Pac-12 edition with Washington on Nov. 6. They will have an extra day of rest before welcoming in UCLA on Nov. 14.

Colorado’s last road game of the season is scheduled on Nov. 21 against Stanford, before a back-to-back home finale vs. Oregon State on Nov. 28 and Washington State on Dec. 5. The December meeting with the Cougars will be the latest game to end the regular season schedule since Dec. 7, 1963, a game against Air Force that was delayed two weeks due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Colorado, under Mel Tucker, posted a 5-7 (3-6, Pac-12) record last year. Tucker vacated for Michigan State on Feb. 12 after the one-and-done year. No less than 11 days later, Karl Dorrell was named the Buffaloes new head coach on Feb. 23. All athletic events shut down two weeks later due to the Coronavirus pandemic on March 12.

A new date for CU’s fall camp beginning on Monday, Aug. 17, with the first day of classes on a week later on Monday, Aug. 24.