The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season has been a roller coaster ride. Tough losses at home and blowout losses on the road have made this season tough, but there have been bright spots. The goal from the start was to make a bowl game. It may take a miracle for the Buffaloes to achieve that goal, but Mel Tucker has laid the foundation for a successful tenure in Boulder.
First Up: Washington
The Buffaloes host the Washington Huskies in College Football Week 13 next week on ESPN at 8 p.m. mountain time (7 p.m. pacific time). CU has never beat the Huskies since joining the Pac-12. In the 2016 Pac-12 Championship Game, the Huskies beat the Buffaloes 41-10, and the Buffaloes have never been the same since.
Washington has looked more vulnerable in 2019, as they sit at 6-4 (3-4 Pac-12 North). They are led by quarterback Jacob Eason, who will look to further expose the Buffaloes secondary. Eason, a transfer from Georgia, had high expectations from the Husky faithful. However, Washington ranks only sixth in offensive pass efficiency in the Pac-12. Eason is ready to have a breakout game against a Buffaloes defense who is second to last in defensive pass efficiency this season. For all the progress many believe the Buffaloes have made in Mel Tucker’s first year, the defense has been a weak spot.
However, the Buffaloes have a chance to win this game. That chance is larger than most may think. ESPN’s Football Power Index only gives the Buffaloes a 17.1% chance to win this game. Despite the Buffaloes being 4-6, the respect that they have been given nationally is nonexistent. The team has played hard in every game at home. With the emotions of it being senior day and the possible last home game for star receiver Laviska Shenault, one should expect the Buffaloes to show up and possibly win this game.
After Washington, Buffaloes head to Utah
With a win against Washington, the Buffaloes would sit at 5-6. In the last week of the College Football regular season game, they have to go to Rice-Eccles Stadium to play Utah. In the latest College Football Power Rankings As They Should Be, Utah was ranked 7th. They are on a collision course with Oregon, as they will most likely be the two teams playing for the Pac-12 title at Levi’s Stadium.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Buffaloes only a 4.3% chance to win this game. It may take a miracle for the Buffaloes to do just that. After beating CSU 52-31 in Denver and Arizona State 34-31 in Tempe, the Buffaloes have lost their past three road games by an average of 30 points. They lost to UCLA 31-14, and they just lost to Utah 49-3 in College Football Week 12.
Bowl Eligibility Longshot Due to Missed Opportunities
My prediction for the Buffaloes is that they will have a 50-50 chance to beat Washington, but it will take a miracle for them to beat Utah and make themselves bowl eligible. The games that they will look back on as the main reasons for not making a bowl game are their home losses to Air Force, Arizona, and USC.
Against Air Force in College Football Week 3, the Buffaloes jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but then they had to rally from down 23-10 to force overtime. The Falcons would score on the first play of overtime, and the Buffaloes would lose 30-23. One of Mel Tucker’s main goals as the Buffaloes’ head coach would be to show recruits in Colorado that CU was the best team in the state. Losing to Air Force was a bad look for the program, and Air Force also beat CSU in College Football Week 12.
Next, the Buffaloes lost a 35-30 heartbreaker to Arizona in College Football Week 6. They were unable to contain Khalil Tate through the air, as he threw for 404 yards and gashed the Buffaloes defense. Against USC in College Football Week 9, the Buffaloes relinquished a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. This loss was extremely frustrating because Montez got hurt, but then he came back into the game and was ineffective in the fourth quarter. The defense had chances to possibly end the game, but let USC get chunk plays and eventually score to take a 35-31 lead.
The Legacy of the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes
The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes will have a complicated legacy when they are talked about in the future. They will be remembered most for their comeback at Folsom Field against Nebraska, but will also be remembered for having narrow losses to teams that, at least from their perspective, they should have beat.
People will remember Steven Montez as a quarterback who showed flashes at times, but sometimes left Buffaloes fans wanting more. Montez is first in CU history in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Still, CU being 11th in quarterback efficiency this season shows how Montez was never able to have legendary moments as the Buffaloes’ quarterback. Along with Laviska Shenault and Nate Landman, Montez was a key leader of this team. It is frustrating that the Buffaloes have not been able to make a bowl game the last two seasons with the talented leaders they had.
With the hype surrounding recruiting for the Buffaloes, the future does look bright for them. They can lay a foundation for future success by being able to win their last two games. However, this task is close to insurmountable, and there is no real expectation that the Buffaloes will win out. If they are somehow able to do the impossible, it could bring out a new wave of enthusiasm for the Buffaloes now and into the future.