Every year, CSU seems to play with greater focus and intensity than the Buffs. Even though we've won like 5/7, it rarely feels like CU out-played CSU. There was a different feel this year. It starts with HCMM embracing this game. From all his comments and body language, it's clear that if you put a challenge in front of him that he immerses himself in the moment of it and legitimately enjoys the experience. That rubs off on the team. All we heard from him was how this was a great rivalry, a great venue, a great thing for the state, a great way to kick off the season, and a great opportunity for his football team. This is precisely the attitude the HC should have and it rubs off on his staff and team. This year, the Buffs matched CSU's intensity. There was no feeling of CSU playing harder. Maybe CSU will always want it just a bit more, but I'm now confident that CU won't come out flat for the RMS. On the big plays from offense and defense, CSU did nothing this year that surprised CU. Players picked things up and were rarely out of position. There were some first game mistakes, but it was CSU that looked off balance by play calling. Not just the offensive play calling that opened up some broken coverages, but the defensive playcalling left CSU searching for an answer. The most impressive thing about the defense was that it was completely vanilla. CU pretty much lined up in base, adjusted to formation, and then just beat CSU's guys with our guys. Scheme wasn't designed to take risks in order to create advantages. Instead, it put our players in position to do their jobs, win their individual battles, and make plays. On top of that, we had effective adjustments during the game. Here, I'd point mostly to special teams. CU coverage teams struggled the entire first half and then CSU broke a couple in the 3rd quarter. That's not the type of thing that can be fixed during the game. That takes film study and practice. Maybe some personnel changes. So the CU coaches decided that since their defense was winning against CU's offense, they were better off avoiding big ST plays even if they had to give up some field position. We got the rugby punts and squib kickoffs. Decisive moves that kept things from getting out of hand. Next, the team responded to adversity. After losing the lead in the 3rd quarter, the Buffs delivered and 18-3 4th quarter. That's huge for the psyche of this team. HCMM's comment to the team after the last CSU ST play was telling. He emphasized how much fun this was. It's a rivalry. CSU made a play, now we get to answer. Love it. Finally, the team closed the game. There's some "clutch" that's being developed. Oliver nailed pressure field goals. O'Neill coffin cornered a punt when it was sorely needed. Defense stoned CSU deep in its end when needed. Defense got 3rd and 4th down stops all game and especially in crunch time. And the offense, getting the ball up 6 with about 4 minutes to go, went for the jugular instead of playing "not to lose". 75 yards to P-Rich and couches started burning. We're seeing a culture shift. We're seeing guys who we had written off realize their potential. At the end of last year, who thought that Wood would be completing 65% of his passes and throwing for 400 yards without a pick? Who thought that DD Goodson would be a key playmaker? Who thought Bell would be the answer to solving our coverage issues in the deep middle? As HCMM said after the game, the team showed that it could play with a chip on its shoulder when no one was singing its praises. And now the challenge is to respond this week when folks are singing its praises. How will the Buffs deal with success? In recent years, they haven't been able to handle it during a game or coming off a win. This is an important challenge to overcome and the next step in rebuilding the culture. I've seen nothing to make me believe that they won't meet this next challenge.