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November 28, 2020


Jarek Broussard running in the open against San Diego State. (CU Athletics.)  


This isn't the way the Colorado Buffaloes were supposed to remain undefeated Saturday, but they'll accept it.


Instead of facing Southern California on the road in a showdown for the Pac-12 lead, the Buffs claimed a replacement and workmanlike 20-10 win over San Diego State at Folsom Field and got to 3-0 overall, still an unlikely accomplishment in a bizarre season.


"We won the game with a day of preparation," CU coach Karl Dorrell said. "I thought our players did a great job of trying to get a feel of what San Diego State does. . . Good teams find ways to win, and they're not always pretty. They're not always an explosive offense and a great defense. Some times you have to win ugly and it was one of those games. Given the lack of preparation, it was a solid win for us."   


It wasn't a lack of respect that caused low expectations for the Buffs going into the season. It was realism. 


What about that realism now?


Well, to quote Emily Litella...


By the end of the night, after Washington came from behind in the final minutes to beat Utah 24-21, CU still was one of only three undefeated Pac-12 teams.


The problem there, though, is that if USC-CU had gone off as scheduled and not gotten scrubbed because of the Trojans' COVID-19 issues, the divisonal picture would be more clear with two scheduled weekends left in advance of the conference championship game, scheduled for Dec. 18.   


But in a way, winning a rather lackluster game against a decent Mountain West opponent was impressive enough. Again, there was no letdown, no indication that this team was due for regression. The defense, again led by linebacker Nate Landman, was terrific, allowing only three points as the Utes got their only touchdown on a pick-six of Sam Noyer. Noyer threw for 138 yards and one TD, and Jarek Broussard had his third straight 100-yard game, rushing for 124 hard-earned yards on 32 carries.       


Now the Buffs have Arizona and Utah left.       


That's it. 


I'm on record that CU and CSU should have met Nov. 21, when opponents' COVID-19 problems led to cancellations, but that's another debate. The "now" is that if CU had to sit idle for a second straight week instead of having AD Rick George scramble to line up the con-conference replacement -- the other team from Southern California -- it would have tempered some of the enthusiasm.


No way is this season ever going to feel "complete" for Pac-12 teams.


Yet if the Pac-12 hadn't backed off its insistence on only in-conference games, and if George hadn't lined up SDSU, which originally was supposed to face Fresno State Friday night, there would have been both additional frustration and emptiness.


Given all the bizarre and unfortunate events going on around football -- problems of relative insignificance compared to the "real" world -- who knows what's going to happen in the college game from here.


Clearly, the Pac-12 presidents would have been better off sticking with their plan to stage a spring season instead. They caved in to the 'game-must-go-on" pressures, including from the denialists who are being shown to be more irresponsible daily, and from the bean counters assessing the loss of television money.


The Pac-12 and perhaps Big Ten could have had the spotlight on them in the spring and -- at least we can hope this -- fewer challenges with coping with COVID-19 by then.

But the Buffs are trying to make the most of it. 


"It was good to get a game in, just because we were off last week," Dorell said. "To miss another week would have been I think a little more difficult to deal with. . . Everybody's dealing with circumstances this year. This COVID thing is so unpredictable. It's a day to day process. We never know what we're going to completely be from Monday to Friday. Anything can happen in any given day. I think our players have beeen outstanding with keeping our health. I told them that yesterday. We're trying to stay as healthy as we can be and I think they know there's a lot of really good things in front of them if they continue this trend that we're on."


 Terry Frei's 2020 commentaries