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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau makes his first start Saturday when the Colorado Buffaloes get a break from the Pac-12 opponents that have been blowing them out.
That’s not to say Charleston Southern (7-0, 1-0 Big South) will be a pushover.
The Buccaneers are one of the better lower-tier teams in the country, and the Buffaloes (2-3, 0-3 Pac-12) are only 2-2 all-time against FCS schools, including a 38-24 win over Central Arkansas this season.
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said the Buccaneers are better than Central Arkansas, “so, I’m pretty sure that Charleston Southern will definitely come in and feel like they can win the football game.”
This game was added after Colorado’s Sept. 14 game against Fresno State was canceled because of record rainfall and flooding.
If Colorado beats the Buccaneers, they’ll need just three more wins to become bowl eligible. The NCAA granted the Buffs a waiver allowing them to count two wins over FCS teams toward the minimum six-victory standard instead of just one.
The additional game for Charleston Southern gives the Buccaneers 13 regular-season games, the most in FCS history.
Five things to keep in mind Saturday:
1. Liufau era
MacIntyre wanted to redshirt Liufau but that changed when junior Connor Wood got off to another bad start and the Buffaloes fell behind 25-0 late in the first quarter at Arizona State last week. Liufau promptly led the Buffaloes on an 80-yard touchdown drive but committed some turnovers after that in a 54-13 loss. “Great first drive, went down and we had that touchdown, but I had too many turnovers,” Liufau said. “I don’t care if I am a freshman, coming off the bench or starting, it doesn’t matter. I can’t have those turnovers in any game, especially if we are trying to look to win some games.” Liufau said, however, that he felt as comfortable as he did in high school. “Of course the guys are faster, I am not trying to say that they are as slow as high school kids, but it just felt like playing football,” he said. “It didn’t feel like something that was way out of my league or out of control.”
2. Liufau loyalty
Liufau committed to Colorado while Jon Embree was still coach and when he was fired, several schools made a run at him, but he wouldn’t change his mind. “Thank goodness we were able to hold onto him because he had a few Pac-12 schools come after him hard,” McIntyre said. They needed haven’t bothered. Liufau, who’s from Tacoma, Wash., felt at home in Boulder and “I love the old coaching staff and once I met the new coaching staff I fell in love again.”
3. Mutual admiration
Asked what he likes about his new quarterback, MacIntyre didn’t hold back. “I think he’s very athletic. I think he’s very cerebral. I think he’s very calm,” MacIntyre said. “He’s been calm in practice and he was very calm in the game the other night. He competed but he was calm. He’s also a guy, to me, that puts others first instead of himself. I’ve noticed that so much and I think that’s part of his maturity. I think he has a good arm. I think he’s very accurate and also the thing that I noticed the other night is, I think he’s extremely tough.”
4. So, how’s Connor?
Wood has lost his grip on the starting job for the second straight season. “I think Connor has handled it well,” MacIntyre said. Liufau said Wood has been helping him. “People don’t see it often on the sidelines or in practice because no one’s there, but Connor is an amazing leader,” Liufau said. “He has the ‘C’ on his chest for a reason.”
5. Tough matchup
The Buccaneers run the option offense out of the pistol formation. “It’s a mixture of Navy and Nevada so it’s a very difficult offense,” MacIntyre said. The Buccaneers lost their starting QB, senior Malcolm Dixon, to a knee injury last month but haven’t missed a beat behind Danny Croghan.