Huskies loom as Buffs’ real test
What’s not to love about the Buffaloes? Are they undefeated after three games? Yes, sir. Knocking on the door of the top 25 in the national rankings? Sweet.the rise? It’s real. As Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay has been known to say: “That’s cute.”
But is CU ready for prime time?
Well, we’re fixing to find out. The Buffaloes have yet to conclusively prove their No. 17 ranking in the final 2016 Associated Press poll was more than a happy fluke. But their next foe is Washington. There’s an old score to settle. Beat the Huskies in a steel-cage match and CU can shout down any doubters.
“We’re excited about Washington coming in here, and I know they’re excited about coming in, too. It’s a rematch of the Pac-12 championship game where they beat us pretty good in the second half,” coach Mike Macintyre said Saturday after a final tuneup for the Buffs.
CU beat Northern Colorado 41-21 in front of a crowd of 44,318 at Folsom Field, if you count several thousand that were otherwise occupied, either cleaning out the garage at home or visiting the high country to check out the annual fall fashion show by the aspen.
When we last saw the Washington Huskies, they were knocking the snot out of the Buffs and taking down the rise a notch, with a 41-10 drubbing in December.
“You can’t ever forget,” Mac-
Intyre said. “Our young men will use it as motivation. I won’t have to say much about it at all.”
Is CU ready for the rematch? Well, yes and no. Hate to be wishy-washy. But depending on how strong the libation was in your glass for brunch with the Buffs, they were either half-good or half-bad against Northern Colorado.
It was supposed to be a weekend afternoon in the park. Colorado, however, was forced to grunt and sweat, because these Bears refused to dance.
Ahead by only a touchdown early in the third quarter, the Buffaloes wrestled away a victory from Northern Colorado, which refused to go away quietly against a CU squad that acted as if it overslept for the noon kickoff.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play,” linebacker Derek Mccartney said.
To which Macintyre snappily retorted: “That’s not true. Derek doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Macintyre believes the Buffs are rocking and ready to defend their reputation and their turf. I think Macintyre is half-right. The CU offense is fully capable of lighting up the scoreboard. While it’s true Northern Colorado is not quite Pac-12 material, the Bears ain’t chopped liver. And CU quarterback Steven Montez shredded them for 357 yards passing and 76 yards rushing.
No offense to Sefo Liufau, but the Buffs have upgraded at quarterback.
But the CU defense? Well, that’s a whole ’nuther story. Despite rave reviews after the Buffs refused to surrender more than a field goal in victories against Colorado State and Texas State, what the Washington coaches will see on video is a run defense that’s susceptible to pressure on the edge and a secondary that can have a deep ball thrown over its heads.
This much we know is true: You can count on the Buffaloes going bowling again 2017. With two weeks remaining in September, they’re already halfway to postseason qualification. But can Colorado make noise in a conference where both Washington and Southern California have legitimate national championship aspirations, and both are visiting Boulder?
Lindsay, who ran for 151 yards against Northern Colorado, is itching for the chance to prove the Buffs belong on the field as more than a chew toy for the Huskies.
“They have a lot of talented players and they’re going to play ball, but you know what? We were in the Pac-12 championship, too,” Lindsay said. “So we’re going to show what we have, too. We’re going to go out and play Colorado football, and I think now you guys are going to start to see an all-around team. There’s a lot to this game that people can’t see from a far distance. So when we start playing our game, it’s going to be a dog fight.”
OK, as long as we’re woofing, here’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth: 1) Don’t wait a half to wake up against Washington, and 2) Come out sleep-walking in prime time against one of the country’s 10 best teams, and it will be nighty-night for the Buffs before the fight gets started.