While Colorado Buffaloes coaches and players certainly dreamed of division and conference titles and maybe even an appearance in the College Football Playoff, most fans were on the record as simply hoping for a bowl berth prior to this season beginning. However, with the performance on the road against Michigan and the win over the Ducks in Oregon a bowl berth is no longer the ceiling for this program. All of a sudden, the only game that truly looks like a likely loss is the trip to take on Stanford in Palo Alto.
The Pac-12 South is struggling at the same time that Buffaloes are making their move. USC is falling apart right in front of us. UCLA can't seem to get over the hump. Arizona hasn't impressed outside of a close home loss and Arizona State's 4-0 start looks like smoke and mirrors. It's still a ways away and there are a lot of games to play, but that 11/26 regular season finale against Utah is looking bigger and bigger by the day...
With CU likely to be a heavy favorite at home next week against Oregon State, competing for a bowl spot now feels like a foregone conclusion. A run at the Pac-12 South Division crown hardly seems out of the question. The next road date for the Buffs is against a USC squad that's already 0-2 in the league and facing the ire of its frustrated fans.
With starting outside linebacker Derek McCartney out for the season, the Buffs switched up and threw Ryan Moeller into the mix at the position throughout Saturday's game. The 215-pound Moeller wouldn't seem to be a good fit to fill the shoes of the 250-pound McCartney, but against Oregon's speedy running backs, he did exactly what was necessary — helped keep the Ducks from getting outside on a regular basis. Moeller technically started the game lined up at safety, but played OLB at a variety of junctures and was credited with three tackles. A tough, hard-nosed player, he had no trouble mixing it up with much bigger players in the trenches and used his speed and quickness to make plays.
It was a heck of a lot of fun watching an emotional fourth-year Buffs coach Mike MacIntyre running around hugging various players after his long-suffering program’s landmark win at Oregon on Saturday. At 3-1, CU, which last finished above .500 in 2005, suddenly has a whole new outlook on the season. Would you put it past the Buffs to beat 1-2 Oregon State and 1-3 USC the next two weeks?
And on that night, MacIntyre would not ask his players to act relaxed or composed. He would not tell them to watch their mouths. There would be no keeping it cool, and MacIntyre -- who had started crying with 40 seconds left in the game -- certainly wasn’t going to be the one to try and impose it. "It’s hard to act like you’ve been there," MacIntyre said, "when you haven’t been there."
The Buffs are now 3-1, and it's clear that they're pretty good. It won't be surprising if they tick off a lot of teams this season, and Oregon was just their first big-name victim.
"I just told him, 'Take it one play at a time,'" said Liufau, who was injured during the third quarter at Michigan on Sept. 17. "I think it's easy to be hung up on mistakes that you made. It's a tough second pick. It was kind of 50-50 on the ball. I just told him to battle back and keep playing because there's going to be another opportunity."
Also: Welcome to the bowl projections, Colorado. That 41-38 win at Oregon puts the Buffs back into this picture, and it's been a long time coming.
Who wants to go to Vegas? Las Vegas Dec. 17 Boise State Colorado MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6
5. Colorado 3-1, 1-0 (No. 8 last week) Autzen Stadium isn’t typically a place for quarterbacks to grow up on the job. But Steven Montez was fantastic in his first career start (333 yards, three touchdowns) and the defense -- which we’ve documented -- came up clutch in the 41-38 win over Oregon. This wasn’t just a signature win for the program. It was Mike MacIntyre’s John Hancock.
Fans are taking notice, and it should be evident in the stands when the Buffs return to Folsom Field on Saturday to host Oregon State. The Buffs still have five home games to play, and the timing of the win against Oregon could not have been better.
A key to Montez’ successful day was how fast he started. Finding his receivers for efficient gains early on, and using his legs to gain ground. The native of El Paso, TX. had an exceptional first half, going 17-for-20, throwing for 217 yards. It’s not every day you hear about a redshirt freshman achieving these numbers in an entire game, let alone in his first half of his first start. Montez’ ability to perform that exceptionally in the first half was due to him settling into the game quickly.