Following back-to-back wins, Buffs ready for New Hampshire

The Buffs sing the CU Fight Song following their 33-28 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Sept. 8, 2018. (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

The University of Colorado and the University of New Hampshire football teams will meet for the first time in school history on Saturday. The Buffs will play at Folsom Field for the first time this season.

“I’m excited about playing at home,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’re excited about playing at Folsom Field. I expect a ton of fans there to see this football team play. This is an exciting football team that we have.”

Excitement is a very appropriate word to summarize the first two games of the season for the Buffs. Saturday will be the first opportunity that students can witness the excitement that’s only just beginning to build.

Colorado is coming off of a thrilling last-minute victory against its old rival, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Despite being down heading into the fourth quarter, the Buffs managed to hold Nebraska scoreless before junior quarterback Steven Montez threw a perfect pass to sophomore wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. for a 40-yard touchdown with just over a minute remaining.

It was just the third time in the MacIntyre-era that Colorado managed a comeback win after being down heading into the fourth quarter.

“The first two games … have been exhilarating for our team,” MacIntyre said on Tuesday. “You play your two biggest rivals in school history, neither of them at your home stadium, and are able to beat both of them … that’s a credit to our staff and our players.”

There was an air of confidence in the Champions Center press room on Tuesday as both coaches and players discussed the big victory in Lincoln from the week before.

The team was sure to not get complacent after the win, returning the spotlight to the week ahead and preparing for a matchup against New Hampshire – a formidable foe, to say the least.

“We’re playing a program that is [in the] FCS [and] has gone to the playoffs 14 times in a row,” MacIntyre said. “No FCS team has done that. Since 2004, they’ve won more Division-I football games than any other FCS football program in the country.”

The Buffs have won each of their last four games against FCS opponents. MacIntyre knew they must prepare for a formidable FCS opponent on Saturday.

“[New Hampshire is] a great program in the FCS and one that’s not worried at all about coming in here to play,” MacIntyre said. “I think I even saw their slogan on their Twitter page, ‘The Next One,’ talking about the next big team they’re going to go beat. They have a lot of confidence, and our guys have to be ready to practice real well the last two days.”

The Buffs have certainly looked well-practiced thus far. Montez, in particular, is coming off two big games to start the season. He’s thrown for 689 yards and seven touchdowns, making up over two-thirds of the Buffs’ 991 total yards from scrimmage, the second-most total through two games in the MacIntyre Era. This trails closely behind “The Rise” season of 2016 (1,175 yards).

Despite this, Montez is always certain to prepare, whether its taking on Nebraska in front of 90,000 raucous fans in enemy territory, or taking on the New Hampshire Wildcats at Folsom Field.

“It’s tough to win,” Montez said. “So I’m just going to enjoy the moment now for 24 hours, and you clear the slate and you focus on New Hampshire because they’re the next opponent. They’re next on the list.”

Not only has Montez and the offense been dialed-in and well prepared, the Buffaloes’ defense is proving to be a force for opposing teams as well. Leading the charge on defense is surprise sophomore starter and inside linebacker Nate Landman.

After bursting onto the scene with a 16-tackle, one-interception performance in his first collegiate start against Colorado State University, Landman was again crucial in the win against Nebraska.

The sophomore led the Buffs’ defense in tackles for the second week in a row with 13 total takedowns. He also stopped a critical fourth-and-one in the game’s final quarter and intercepted Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez with just under six minutes left in the game.

It was announced on Tuesday that Landman had earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week.

“I love all the accolades and everything, but I always bring it back to my teammates and my coaches and everyone who’s helped me along the way,” Landman said. “I obviously can’t do what I do without all of the other people behind me. We play as a team, we’re a brotherhood.”

Despite only putting up a collective 10 points through their first two contests of the season, the Wildcats’ offense could put the Buffaloes’ defense to the test.

That said, New Hampshire quarterback Trevor Knight’s shoulder injury he suffered in his team’s season opener will sideline him versus Colorado. Knight was named the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and is a game-changer on the Wildcats offense. He threw for over 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns last season.

But for the first time all season, the Buffs will have the Folsom Field advantage and numbers on their side. That should certainly help the Buffaloes, who will seek to start the year 3-0 for the second consecutive season before entering a tough stretch of Pac-12 play.  

“It’s going to be a tough contest,” MacIntyre said. “We’re going to need help in the stands to make that Folsom environment what it should be.”

You heard the coach: Fill Folsom.

Contact CU Independent sports staff writer Scott MacDonald at scotty.macdonald@colorado.edu and follow him on Twitter @ScottTopics.

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