Yet it is hard to deny that most years, this one included, CU has the better talent – on paper. Good thing for the Rams they don't play the games on paper (or ‘PlayStation,' for that matter.)
It's ironic, considering it's the same formula that took CU to great heights in 2001, but what CSU proved – for the third time in four years – is that teamwork, heart and desire win football games.
Colorado State beat Colorado – again – because they wanted it more. Because they stayed composed when the breaks went against them, because they stayed focused and determined when they needed too most. In contrast, CU broke when a bad call on a fumble (Chris Brown's drop deep in his own territory that was clearly caused by contact with the ground) went against them. When they needed to most, they couldn't deliver. CU thought they could just flip a switch, turn it on, and beat CSU. Wrong.
You continue to be amazed by the job that Sonny Lubick does in Fort Collins. Just when some people start to question the program – as they did during last season's early struggles - he re-loads and takes his team to the next level. What happens to the national perception of these Rams if they beat UCLA next Saturday? Top Ten ranking at 3-0?
What happens to the Buffs from here? Do they regroup, turn it on, and become a factor in the Big 12 once again? Only San Diego State will answer that for us.
I won't pretend to know or explain why CU stumbles out of the gate each season (to the tune of four straight loses in Gary Barnett's openers,) but it was not hard to see this game coming. On paper, CU may have had the "edge" in most areas, but CSU had the all-important "circumstances" category on their side going in (just as CU did a year ago.) The revenge factor after last years drubbing at the hands of the Buffs; an experienced and savvy quarterback, which they lacked last year; their best player (who missed last year's game) returning from injury with something to prove; and that all important first game already under their belts.
Couple that with CU's tumultuous off-season (Player arrests, NCAA investigations, the death of a popular assistant coach, and the "Jeremy vs. the NCAA" Soap Opera) and Barnett's own assessment of his team's mind-set ("We have to learn to be humble" he said at the Big 12 pre-season media gathering), and you could see that this CU team lacks – for the moment at least – the same intangibles that took them to the Big 12 title a year ago.
Predicting that CU would run over the Rams as they did a year ago was dismissing the value of the three key members of the Buffalo offensive line that are now getting paid to play on Sundays. This is not going to be the same running attack as last year until that issue is dealt with. It clearly had not been in pre-season camp. It was also dismissing the improved talent and resolve of the Rams and their coaches.
Dismissing CSU as "a little brother who you won't let steal your ball ever again" is a philosophy that won't work for the Buffs – ever again.
FOR THE FANS: Nothing summed up the mind set of the two sets of fans before the game as well as a feature called "web smack" in a local paper the day before the game. "CU fan" wondered if "tractors had tailgates," and wanted to know how this cowtown culture "partied." "CSU fan" countered with pointed jabs about arrogance, and stating how many Colorado fans felt like they had earned a divine spot in College Football's hierarchy, when they clearly hadn't.
This is a pretty accurate assessment of both sides' (very general) points of view. CSU clearly feels about CU the same way CU feels about Nebraska. That's why a majority of CSU fans, as well as those of other regional schools, really do despise Colorado fans, even when they respect the CU team and what it accomplishes on the field.