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CU@Game CU At The Game: Making a Statement

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

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    Making A Statement




    Just so we are clear, the 40-16 win over Arizona State was, in my opinion, not a “statement game”. It was not a “signature win”. It did not merit a Gatorade bath for coach MacIntyre, nor should the fans have stormed the field after the game.

    “I thought tonight was a break-through win”, said Mike MacIntyre. “Sefo [Liufau] getting to come back and get his start tonight, and this team he played four years ago was the first time he ever played and it didn’t go great. I kept telling them they built the water up in the dam and the dam had cracks in it. I said you got to go punch it one more time, and now the water’s going to flow”.

    A break-through game? Okay. I’ll give you that.

    But it wasn’t a statement game.

    What the Buffs did, however, in taking down Arizona State in dominating fashion, was to make a statement.

    They made a statement to their fans, to the national media, and, most importantly, to the rest of the Pac-12.

    The fans

    The Buffs’ mantra for the year has been “Welcome to the Fight”. For the Buff Nation, however, it has been more a “Field of Dreams” theme when it comes to supporting the team: “Build it, and we will come”.

    The attendance numbers at Folsom Field have been in decline over the past few years. That’s not exactly headline news. When your team has gone 5-40 since joining its new conference, there is not a great of enthusiasm for the program.

    Colorado averaged over 50,000 in home games in 2011, the Buffs’ first season in the Pac-12. Average attendance, though, has not been over 40,000 the past three seasons. The numbers (average attendance for home games):

    2011 – 50,355 … 2012 – 45,372 … 2013 – 38,296 … 2014 – 37,778 … 2015 – 39,388.

    The Buffs opened its 2016 home slate with a crowd of 39,505 for the Idaho State Bengals. That number jumped – after a good showing against No. 4 Michigan and a road win over Oregon – to 46,839 for the Oregon State game.

    For the Homecoming game against Arizona State, the CU athletic department not only made a push to get more black-and-gold fannies in the seats, but made a push for the fans to show up early. The “CU in 60” campaign asked the Buff Nation to come early and get loud.

    And, for the most part, it worked.

    Aided in part by the 6:00 p.m. start and pleasant weather, 48,588 found their way into the stands, the highest total of the Mike MacIntyre era. Most were in their seats before kickoff, with even the student section having a better-than-usual early turnout.

    The national media

    Someone with more tech savvy than I should figure out a way to take that old Verizon commercial, with the “Can you hear me now?” guy, and get it to Jerry Palm at CBS Sports with a copy of CU’s record so far this season.

    Palm, the CBS “expert” on predicting the future, should stick to projecting the brackets for the NCAA tournament. This past week, he did not have the 4-2 Buffs in his bowl projections.

    Adding insult to injury, Palm projected that the Pac-12 would not fill all of its bowl tie-ins. According to Palm, the Cactus Bowl, last in the pecking order in conference bowl selections, would offer its Pac-12 slot to … Colorado State.

    Translation: Colorado was not only looking at being kept out of the bowl selection process … the Buffs, according to Palm, were destined to go 1-5 the remainder of the season, failing to qualify for a bowl.

    The win over Arizona State does not get the Buffs to bowl eligibility, but it is a huge step forward.

    The victory not only keeps Colorado in the hunt for the Pac-12 South title in 2016, it helps to eliminate the argument that CU “doesn’t belong” in the Pac-12. There will no longer be any intimations that, in the inevitable move to a four-conference, 64-team alignment, that CU doesn’t merit inclusion.

    True enough, there was only a remote possibility that Colorado would be on the outside looking in when the next round of conference realignment came along. Colorado as a university is, all things considered, a good fit for the Pac-12, both academically and demographically.

    And yes, other CU athletic programs have more than held their own in their new conference. The men’s basketball team has maintained a high profile, and this fall, all of CU’s team sports have spent time ranked in the top 25 nationally.

    As we know, however, the football program is the “front porch” of the university, and if the football team is a joke, it plays on the national perception of the school (see: Jayhawks, Kansas).

    It has been a nervous few years, as Colorado has failed to assert itself as a player in the Pac-12. Now, with a 3-1 record and a tie for the top of the Pac-12 South, the nation can’t dismiss the Buffs any longer.

    Not even Jerry Palm …

    The rest of the Pac-12

    Two years ago, the last time Arizona State came to Boulder, the Sun Devils raced out to a 14-0 first quarter on its way to a 38-24 victory.

    Despite the two touchdown loss, in a game which witnessed the Buff defense surrendering 545 yards of total offense to the Sun Devils, wide receiver Nelson Spruce nevertheless summed up how the team was feeling this way: “I think it shows that we can play at this level”.

    That was the state of the program two years ago.

    The Buffs spent most of the 2014 home game against the Sun Devils down by two or more touchdowns. Colorado had just fallen to 0-5 against Arizona State all-time, had posted only 18 first downs (to 28 for Arizona State), and yet came out of the contest with the attitude, “we belong”.

    It’s a testament to how far down the program had fallen that being within two touchdowns of a middle-of-the-road Pac-12 program, even in a home game, was considered competitive.

    Not anymore.

    “People projected us to win this game,” said Bryce Bobo, who had the first 100-yard game of his career (six catches for 110 yards). “I felt at the same time they still kind of doubted us because they don’t know if we’re contenders in the Pac‐12. But I think tonight proved that we are.”

    The Buffs finished the evening with a 5-2 record, tied for first in the Pac-12 South with Utah with a 3-1 record. The Colorado offense dominated the line of scrimmage, pushing around an Arizona State defense which came into the game fifth in the nation in rushing yards allowed. The Sun Devils were allowing only 89.3 rushing yards per game, and had held UCLA to negative numbers the weekend before. The Buffs, though, gashed the Sun Devils for 315 yards on the ground.

    As well as the offense played, though, it was the defense which shined.

    The Buffs had almost as many sacks (5) as the Sun Devils had first downs (7). In the second half, ASU had 14 snaps inside CU territory. The Sun Devils, in those 14 plays, netted a minus-12 yards. The 199 total yards were the lowest allowed to a conference opponent since 2001.

    A dominant victory.

    But a “statement game”?

    Not really.

    “I was really impressed with our team, the way we came out of the blocks, how we kept playing, how we kept fighting and how we kept moving”, said Mike MacIntyre. “There was a lot of things to be proud of with our team. We’re one step closer to getting closer to where we want to go, so we’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve done pretty well so far”.

    The Buffs have done pretty well so far. And yet, as Mike MacIntyre put it, the Buffs still got a long ways to go.

    The “statement game”, the game which reintroduces Colorado to the national stage, not just as an anomaly, but once again as a fixture, remains on the horizon.

    But the Buffs did make a statement against Arizona State.

    Colorado is no longer a dormat in the Pac-12. The Buffs are a force to be reckoned with, both for the rest of the 2016 season and into the foreseeable future.

    For a team which has yet to finish outside the basement in its first five years in the Pac-12, that’s a pretty significant statement in and of itself.



    —–

    Stuart
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