Did the University of Colorado Buffaloes meet expectations in Saturday’s 45-28 loss to the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor? Or did CU leave more to be desired? The CUI’s Justin Guerriero and Jake Mauff debate in this week’s edition of Coin Toss.
Justin Guerriero: Okay, I really don’t want to come off as unreasonable and insane here. I know that the unranked Buffs went on the road to Michigan and, for a chunk of the game, gave the Wolverines a run for their money. The first quarter was explosive. Having been at the game, I can tell you that when the Buffs went up 21-7 at the end of the first quarter, you could hear a pin drop in that stadium. There were 110,000-plus Michigan fans just fuming.
But I wasn’t satisfied. At the end of the day, all this game showed me was a continuation of a miserable trend this football team has been handcuffed to in recent years: a failure to close out would-be winnable football games. Look at the other three quarters of play: The Buffaloes managed a meager lone touchdown in the third quarter. That’s it. Once again, the team started off very hot and by the end of the game, all chemistry and effective gameplay was nonexistent.
Bad play-calling, unfortunate injuries, offensive inefficiency and the wearing down of the Buffs’ defensive 11 are all additional trends that have plagued head coach Mike MacIntyre’s team since he took over the program before the 2013 season. CU made these trends apparent in the loss at Michigan.
Jake Mauff: How many teams can say that they went into the Big House, against a No. 4-ranked team, and made them sweat for way too long? There aren’t many to begin with, let alone unranked squads.
The game didn’t end out the way we all wanted, but there was very little chance of this matchup going the Buffs’ way, in any sense of the word. Vegas odds had Colorado as the 20-point underdog going into the game. This matchup was about learning big lessons, especially about hostile crowds, and the team will be battle-tested for the rest of the season.
Special teams is another topic in and of itself, but if the team hadn’t made those two costly punting errors, this game really could have gone Colorado’s way. They’ll learn from that mistake and will learn to play better team football now that second stringers have seen time against one of the toughest teams out there.
JG: I’ve watched too many games that the Buffs shoulda, coulda and woulda won.
Colorado’s football program is on the verge of returning to relevance, but every time it suffers a loss like this, it feels like we’re going back in time —2014 and 2015. It is beyond time that this football team proves that it is ready to be taken seriously. Losing senior quarterback Sefo Liufau to an ankle sprain shortly after halftime certainly didn’t help the cause. I understand that. There’s nothing anyone could have done about that. Well, I guess the offensive line could have done something about that by protecting Liufau more efficiently, but that’s none of my business.
The nightmare just never ends. This team continuously finds new and more infuriating ways to lose football games. I guess I can’t complain about senior place kicker Diego Gonzalez shanking a chip shot field goal, due to his unfortunate season-ending Achilles tendon tear that he suffered during the game.
But had he not went down with that injury, I’d be expressing extreme frustration and concern about that. I know the Buffs lost by 17, but really? Missing an easy field goal? And missing it badly? Not a good look for a team that needs every possible advantage it can get in order to win games.
The worst part of this loss was the players’ reactions. These guys know damn well that they should be winning more games. The players wanted that win in Ann Arbor. Can you imagine the shockwaves that it would have sent throughout the college football universe? The Buffaloes likely would have been ranked had they beaten Michigan. Sophomore linebacker Rick Gamboa did not attempt to hide his frustration with the special teams unit after the game. While talking about the loss, he said that he definitely noticed a momentum change in the game, and that “[it] came off of special teams. Everybody knows that.”
So, I’m sorry, Jake. I’ve done my waiting and I am out of patience. This team needs to start winning games.
JM: So far this season, this team has won games. It’s won games in a way that it hasn’t in a long time. Very few teams are going to beat Michigan this year. This matchup isn’t the best one to expect a victory from.
This felt like a game from last season for three quarters. After that explosion of a first period, Michigan outpaced the Buffs 38-7. Football is an endurance sport, and nothing drives home that lesson more than a game like this. There is room for improvement. But the mentality this team has this year is different from in years past. They will learn their lesson.
Michigan was also a statement game. The 850 KOA broadcast said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Colorado is leading 21-7 and having a nation of people turn their heads as the score scrolls by.” Teams are going to know not to sleep on the Buffs.
The defense got to Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and made him look bad. When clicking, CU’s offense can do whatever they want on any defense. Our punt return is improving slowly but surely. Special teams is the only weakness this team showed in Ann Arbor. I know that’s important, but, for the most part, special teams errors can be fixed. This team will come out hungry next week, wanting to avenge a tough game. Even without Liufau, next week should be a fun game to watch. Michigan was a tough obstacle, but the team will be better for having faced it head-to-head.
Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor and Sports Staff Writer Jake Mauff at firstname.lastname@example.org