Two years ago, after a fairly successful first year of rebuilding, Jon Embree brought his squad into Sports Authority Field at Mile High and dropped a 22-17 decision to Colorado State.
The script is similar for Mike MacIntyre after the first game of his second campaign in Boulder.
After the Buffs jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, Colorado State outscored CU 31-7 the remaining 42:47 to claim their 22nd victory in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, by a score of 31-17.
"I thought CSU played a heck of a football game," said MacIntyre, in a terse postgame press conference. "They beat us tonight, but it's one game, and we've got 11 more to go."
The turning point came early in the second quarter. After a 54-yard Sefo Liufau touchdown toss to Nelson Spruce, Colorado was in good position to build on their 7-0 lead. The Buffs drove the ball down to the Rams' 2-yard line. CU elected to pound the ball up the middle three straight times (twice with Christian Powell, the last by Phillip Lindsay), gaining a net of one yard.
MacIntyre elected to take a delay-of-game penalty, and send Will Oliver out for a 23-yard field goal, which he converted, giving the Buffs a 10-0 lead.
CSU responded two drives later by marching down the field after a bizarre, penalty-ridden drive, capped by an 8-yard Dee Hart touchdown run.
The Rams spent most of the second half running through CU's hapless front seven. Threatening to tie things up on the first drive of the second half, CSU's drive stalled when freshman Derek McCartney (grandson of former CU coach, Bill McCartney) stripped Garrett Grayson and Josh Tupou recovered.
The Buffs' lead was put on life support when Liufau and Spruce connected again, this time on a 12-yard fade to the left corner of the end zone.
But the CU's final score of the evening simply prolonged the inevitable. The Rams' backfield, led by Hart and Treyous Jarrells, averaged an absurd 7.1 yards per carry in the second half. Hart finished with 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Jarrells racked up 121 yards and one touchdown.
Whenever any team averages 7.1 yards per carry, it's cause for concern. Colorado's atrocious performance against the run becomes even more eyebrow-raising considering CSU tallied 266 yards against the Buffs without perhaps their best player, left tackle Ty Sambrailo, who left early in the first quarter with a right MCL injury.
After the 2012 Buffs' loss to CSU, CU laid an egg at home against Sacramento State, falling 30-28, and placing Embree firmly on the hot seat.
Next up for Colorado is a road trip to Massachusetts. With the coming additions to Folsom Field, the reality is a loss against the Minutemen would place a great deal of pressure on MacIntyre.
"People are going to make a big deal out of this, and rightfully so," said Liufau. "CSU is a good team and it was a big game. But we can't just sit on this game like the season is over. There are 12 games left, hopefully more, and we just have to go back in, put in the work and get ready for next week."