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Previewing the Buffaloes non-conference schedule

Northern Colorado, Texas A&M and Minnesota comprise the Buffs non-conference slate

NCAA Football: Northern Colorado at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes face an in-state rival and two top-tier Power 5 programs in their 2021 non-conference schedule. Here is what to expect:

Sept. 3 vs Northern Colorado

There are plenty of unknowns for the 2021 Northern Colorado Bears after their entire 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. Former Denver Broncos’ star Ed McCaffrey will finally get his chance to coach his first game at UNC in what should be a lopsided victory for the Buffs. Northern Colorado was picked to finish last in the Big Sky preseason coaches poll but do possess a few intriguing transfers. McCaffrey’s son, Dylan, left Michigan after throwing for 116 yards and a touchdown in 2019. He will likely be the frontrunner to start at quarterback and will enjoy Washington State transfer wide receiver Kassidy Woods. The Buffs and Bears last met in 2017, a game in which CU won 41-21.

Sept. 11 vs Texas A&M

After opening their season at Folsom Field, the Buffs will require an even larger stage for a matchup against the SEC’s Texas A&M Aggies. Empower Field at Mile High will play host as Colorado takes on its former Big 12 rival. The Buffs last played and beat the Aggies in 2009 with a Dan Hawkins-led team. But a lot has changed since then. The Aggies are coming off a stellar 9-1 campaign which included a win over No. 13 North Carolina in the Orange Bowl. Leading the ground attack for Texas A&M will likely be a mix of sophomore Devon Achane and junior Isaiah Spiller, who ran for over 1,000 yards last season. Sophomore Zach Calzada and freshman Haynes King will battle for the quarterback role in preseason camp. A win against the national title hopeful Aggies would obviously bode well for CU in terms of an early season ranking.

Sept. 18 vs Minnesota

Colorado’s final non-conference matchup will come back at Folsom against the Big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers. Last season, the Gophers were unable to reproduce 2019’s stellar 11-2 record and limped to 3-4 (still beating Nebraska, however). Senior quarterback Tanner Morgan still holds the experience of 2019 but like many Gophers, fell off in 2020. On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt senior DB Coney Durr has played in 42 career games at Minnesota with over 100 total tackles. There’s not much history between these squads: Colorado has seen Minnesota just twice and swept a home-and-home in 1991 and 1992.