Somewhere in all the A-block segments and Wall Street Journal articles this week, there’s probably a cringy metaphor waiting to be made about how far over its skis the CU football conversation is.
There’s a real LendingTree Bowl vibe at TCU this year and they probably weren’t the most prepared for guys like Travis Hunter and Dylan Edwards. It’s not like the Buffs will be sneaking up on their future opponents, or even that they want to sneak up on anyone, judging off Deion’s press conferences.
It’s only been one game. The incongruity on the roster made them difficult to gameplan for, sure, but show me a coach that won’t take a competitive advantage and I’ll show you one doing halftime intermission hits for SEC Network+. Maybe it was a fluke, or maybe these new guys are pretty good at football.
We would become prisoners of the moment to squeeze out any sort of overarching angle after four quarters of football, but whatever. We can jump the gun just a little, as a treat. It’s been a long time of losing and we deserve to ask fun questions like: what exactly did Saturday’s win do besides guarantee that student ticket discounts are a thing of the past?
Considering how everything has gone for the Pac-12 as of late, there’s something charming about how many ranked teams are on CU’s schedule right now. After playing Nebraska and Colorado State, the Buffs close out September with back-to-back matchups against Oregon and USC. Then come a couple cool-down laps with Arizona State and Stanford, a couple winnable road games against UCLA and Washington State, and another friendly home game against Arizona. At the tail end awaits (potentially) high-profile games against Oregon State and Utah, both currently ranked and run-heavy.
It’s a deep conference and the schedule is loaded. There might be some blowout wins, and probably loss or two as well, but they’ll all be fun. Though a couple surely won’t be on Big Noon Saturday, there’s undeniable depth to this year’s conference that hasn’t always existed. Maybe they deserved $50 million per school after all.
It’s why – or part of why, at least – Saturday’s win was so exciting. If CU had come out and laid an egg, it would have been even easier, and awfully tempting, to point to the supposed Multi-Year Plan in place and start the process of chalking this season up to a learning experience. Think pieces about roster turnover and NIL excess would flow. Coach Prime’s viral pre-game speech probably wouldn’t have hit the same way. There would almost certainly be more focus on the touchdown(s) Shedeur Sanders and Hunter left on the table.
Worst of all, they’d still be home dogs to Nebraska. Would that be fair? Nope! But Losing Discourse is the steamed vegetables of Punditry: just inedible, insufferable junk shoved down our throats. (Steamed carrots specifically.)
But they won. They won, and Sanders threw for 500+ yards. They won, and Hunter played 500+ snaps. Jimmy Horn Jr. and Xavier Weaver were terrific in an offense that looked, at least for one game, beautifully and cleverly designed. Dylan Edwards even jump-started the inevitable midseason running back snap count controversy.
Did almost every concern about the defense play out how most expected? I mean yeah, but this is Big 12 football, baby. Defense is just a social construct. Granted, their real prove-it games are all still in front of them – eeking out a three-point win over TCU doesn’t exactly make you a world-beater.
But the Buffs proved they’re undeniably up to the task, and there won’t be too many teams coming into Folsom with grand expectations of a leisurely afternoon with killer views anymore. Given how the last two decades have gone, ‘up to the task’ feels like a pretty damn exciting place to be.