For the 76 college football teams mediocre enough to play in a bowl game, the postseason is a celebration of good times had and good times to come.
No matter how a team got those 6+ wins, no matter how little success they had leading up to the season, no matter the promise of success thereafter, bowl season is time to celebrate their respective accomplishments.
Miami (Ohio) started 0-6, won 6 games in a row and then came within a blocked field goal of beating an SEC team, Mississippi State, in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Eastern Michigan hadn’t bowled in over 20 years, but they reached the Bahamas Bowl before losing to Old Dominion in the Monarchs first ever FBS bowl game. Idaho is about to self-demote to the FCS, but they stuck around long enough to light up the scoreboard against Colorado State.
Win or lose, all those teams partied like they should never have been there, because they shouldn’t have. They celebrated their defiance of expectations. They celebrated believing in the impossible. They celebrated believing in themselves and in each other.
Whether or not the Colorado Buffaloes win the Alamo Bowl, they will celebrate the impossible, and we will celebrate with them.
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Colorado hasn’t played in a bowl game since December 30, 2007, when they lost to Alabama in the Independence Bowl. Leading the Buffs was Dan Hawkins in his second year on campus, back when we thought he would bring Colorado back to the glory days of the ‘90s. How wrong we were.
No matter how many talented players and coaches Colorado had, no matter how hard they worked for victory, they were bound to come up short. No one expected Colorado to do anything other than fail again and again; no one had any reason to expect differently. For the optimistic few, it was only a matter of time before whatever hope they nurtured withered away in the darkness.
The Buffaloes found the basement, dug through the cement floor and through the house’s foundation, and kept on digging deeper and deeper. We were there for everything and along we went, lower and lower. It got harder and harder to imagine when we would see the light of day again. But here we are on the other side of the world, enlightened by the Rise, ready to celebrate once again.
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When Mike MacIntyre took over as Colorado’s head coach in 2013, we were allowed to dream again. If MacIntyre could take San Jose State from 1-12 to 10-2 in three seasons, maybe he could bring Colorado back. If he failed at Colorado, oh well, we were getting used to the darkness anyway.
MacIntyre didn’t have much success initially, but no one expected him to. In those trying first seasons, the Buffaloes learned and developed. As the losses piled up, Colorado’s young players gained experience invaluable to their development. The Rise has only been possible through the lessons of failure and through the internal development fostered henceforth.
As the opposition ran up the score, baby-faced defenders like Chidobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson flashed their potential. They offered hope that the defense could grow into an exceptional collection of playmakers that would wreck havoc all over the field. They’ve done just that as they’ve grown together into an elite unit capable of dominating anyone.
As the offensive line and veteran quarterbacks collapsed in a heap of injured limbs, we saw the promise of a capable offense underneath its futility. We saw teenaged Sefo Liufau thrown into the fire, burnt to a crisp and emerge from the ashes an unstoppable warrior. Fearless he is, he now leads an efficient offense determined to find the end zone at any cost.
MacIntyre has delivered on the promise of hope. As deserving as he is of praise, even MacIntyre would deflect and say, "Players make plays. Players win games."
These players have made the plays and they’ve won the games. They’re 10-3 on the season and No. 10 in the nation. They’re in the Alamo Bowl and can knock off No. 12 Oklahoma State. All Colorado needs is for those same players — those who battled the belligerence of failure, those who deserve nothing more than victory — to step up and win their final game.
Even if the Buffaloes fail to win, they have succeeded in overcoming the impossible to return to the light. That we can celebrate.