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The 2023 Colorado Buffaloes are destined to be an interesting football team.
First of all, If you don’t love Deion Sanders, aka Primetime, you don’t love football. Dude is – though polarizing – all in on his team. It shows up in the 89 new guys on the roster (58 through the portal), and it shows up in the way this team played football in Week 1. But are the Buffs for real?
Week 1 of the FBS makes us want to believe so.
Colorado vs. TCU was a fun game to watch; I don’t care who you cheer for. It felt like a CFL game on steroids — all gas, no brakes, points-a-popping on the scoreboard, fans jumping up and down, old school, Big 12 stuff; absolutely nothing to dislike football-wise until you start digging a little deeper.
Take a Deep Breath, Colorado Fans
Not to nitpick, but you can’t always win just throwing the ball, Travis Hunter can’t play every snap all season long, and somebody is gonna have to defend the pass and/or hit the other guys’ QB if this team is going to go anywhere in 2023.
Though #17 TCU lost the opener to the Buffs, the Horned Frogs’ offense ripped the Buffaloes’ defense again and again for first downs throughout the game (10 different guys caught a pass; eight of them at least once for 11 yards or more). The rushing defense was no better.
Call that the product of a recent top contender’s program still having talent if that’s your poison. It doesn’t change the fact that Colora-o (there’s no ‘D’ in Colorado based on Week 1 tape) came up short in a number of ways against TCU.
All that said: Do I like the Buffs to shake up the FBS this season? Oh yes, I do. But it’s gonna take a while for me to get to it, cause, you know. Facts.
Versus the TCU Horned Frogs in Week 1, the Colorado Buffaloes gave up 27 points, 541 total yards, 262 on the ground, and 10 of 17 third down conversion attempts (props, though, on the +1 TO margin). Colorado’s own rushing attack averaged a mere 1.6 yards per carry, and their defense did not generate a sack or a tackle for loss all day.
The inconvenient statistical truths above are not early-season playoff contender numbers by any definition. I don’t care if your grandfather said it, it’s still true: You must be able to run the ball and play D to win big games when it gets cold. And friends, Colorado gets cold.
But maybe this game was just a quirk.
Is TCU’s offense really that good? Was Colorado’s defense simply adjusting and jelling early in the season? Can offensive weapon Travis Hunter survive and offer value giving dual duty snaps on defense? Can the hype be sustained? These are the key questions for the Buffaloes after Week 1.
With that in hand, let’s get into the rest of the Colorado Buffaloes 2023 season.
There are 11 games remaining on the Buffaloes schedule, including four tilts against currently ranked teams: Oregon (the #2 ranked offense in the nation after Week 1), USC, Oregon State, and Utah. There are also challenging games to play versus the currently #17 ranked Stanford offense, and the #8 ranked Arizona State defense before mid-season.
You can chuckle at a couple of those opponents if derision is your version of game prep, but the truth is the Buffaloes have very little margin for error to get into a quality bowl game in 2023, let alone make a playoff run — don’t shoot the messenger.
I’m gonna cheer for the Buffaloes this season because I like an exciting brand of football. But I’m not going to put too much on Coach Prime or the team’s shoulders for 2023, because I just don’t think it’s fair in Year 1 of a program.
Coach Prime: Yes!
Colorado Buffaloes: Yes!
Give it time. Colorado is two years off from having a very special program for all fans to embrace, assuming the fragile framework built on the transfer portal that Coach Prime has constructed can remain standing. My guess is that players will continue to flock to Deion Sanders and the program will prosper in the long term as a result of the portal’s existence.
A couple of years down the line, this team might be a legit national playoff contender. Just not this season. To win less than six in 2023 might be a disappointment. To win nine would probably be a shock, though HC Prime seems to expect to win them all, the way real winners tend to.
Coach Sanders is an exceptional motivator and he has recruited a very talented team, but I do not see the Colorado Buffaloes going to the national playoff round this season.
I’m calling for at least one loss for the Buffaloes in September, then the start of the Can they? Will they? phase in October, a tough late November versus quality competition, and a decent bowl game somewhere in January as a reward for a pretty good season.
I think 8-4 would be an excellent inaugural campaign for Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes. Anything more is fun to cheer for, but improbable. At least that’s what the early season data says.
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