With a win over UCLA, USC finished its conference slate with two losses and a tie-breaker advantage over Colorado, so the Buffaloes have to defeat Utah on Saturday in order to win the Pac-12 South.
“We would love to win it on the field, I think it makes it even better,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said after Monday's practice. “Our guys are excited about playing Utah, an excellent football team. They've beaten us every year I have been here. It is appropriate to go into the last game of the year with a lot riding on it.”
Prior to MacIntyre's arrival in Boulder, in 2011, CU defeated Utah. It was the first year both teams were in the Pac-12, and it ruined the Utes' opportunity to play in the conference title game. Since then, the Utes have won four in a row against the Buffs, but never by more than a touchdown:
2011: CU 17-14
2012: Utah 42-35
2013: Utah 24-17
2014: Utah 38-34
2015: Utah 20-14
The “Rumble in the Rockies” is a catchy name, but the animosity between the fan-bases has not reached a level where the annual Utah/Colorado contest is viewed as a true rivalry. MacIntyre believes it can develop into one, though.
“I have always said it is a rivalry when we start beating them,” he said. “I definitely see it becoming a rivalry. Close proximity, a lot of these kids know each other, and it being the last game of the year.”
After playing in seven games in a row that were broadcast on a conference network between week two and week eight, Colorado will play on national television (FOX) this Saturday for the fourth straight week.
Sophomore wide receiver Jay MacIntyre said he does not anticipate the pressure and stage of Saturday's game will be too big for the Buffaloes.
“We want to prove that we can be Pac-12 Champs and to do that, we have to first win the South,” he said. “We have seen the bottom and want to know what it feels like to be at the top. We like it where we are right now and we don't want to go back.”
Two Buffs honored
Quarterback Sefo Liufau was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for his 453 yard, three touchdown performance, against Washington State. He was also named the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week and the Scout.com Pac-12 Player of the Week.
Liufau is the first player to win Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and Scout.com Pac-12 Player of the Week honors twice this season.
Sophomore defensive back Nick Fisher was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded three third down stops and a fourth down stop, the latter at CU's 15-yard line when Washington State was driving trying to score a go-ahead touchdown when trailing 28-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Fisher had only played 39 defensive snaps for the Buffaloes through the first 10 games of the season. He was pressed into action when CU lost two safeties early last Saturday, and Fisher ended up playing 67 defensive snaps against the Cougars.
Additional notes -
*** Junior wide receiver Bryce Bobo was wearing a walking boot at practice on Monday, but MacIntyre indicated there is a chance he could be back in action this weekend after getting sidelined with an ankle injury last Saturday. Junior defensive standout Ryan Moeller is going through the Buffaloes' concussion protocol after also getting sidelined against the Cougars.
“He was doing good so we'll see. Hopefully [he'll be able to play against Utah],” MacIntyre said of Moeller. “Bryce's will be a game-time type of decision but he is moving around a lot better.”
*** After getting knocked out of the Arizona State game, and then playing very little against Stanford and UCLA, Jay MacIntyre has seen an increased role. He has caught a total of 10 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown in the Buffs' last two wins.
“It has been really fun,” he said. “After the concussion it took me a little bit getting back in the offense and getting my confidence back. Going into the Arizona game, I just had the mindset to play free, have fun and I did that again against Washington State.”
*** In recent years, Senior Day had more of a “final” feel to it than this year's will. This is the first CU senior class that will get to play in a bowl game since the 2007 senior class.
“It is definitely going to be a joyous occasion,” Mike MacIntyre said of the team's upcoming Senior Day. “Most of us came in here together four years ago and now it is like a blink of an eye at this point. Seemed longer than that in some of the seasons but I would just love to see them go out on a winning note. There is a lot riding on it and it'll definitely be the biggest crowd I have seen here so it is going to be exciting for them and the fans.”
*** The Buffaloes will wear gold helmets, black jerseys and black pants on Saturday: