Preview 2017: Was Colorado actually good last year, or was the Pac-12 down?
Colorado came up with a fantastic breakthrough season, but was it all a mirage?
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Is Colorado actually good again at this whole college football thing, or did it rise up and rock in a mediocre year for the Pac-12?
There’s no apologizing for a 10-5 win at Stanford, or a blowout win over Colorado State, or against a Washington State team that wasn’t as good as its offensive numbers, or a Utah team that was just okay.
It’s not the Buffs’ fault that UCLA and Arizona were crushed by injuries, or that Oregon was awful.
Colorado did what it needed to do. For a program that’s been little more than a free-space time since joining the Pac-12, who cares how it happened? Chirp all you want about USC being the league’s best team at the end of the year. Colorado represented the South in the Pac-12 title game, and you didn’t.
There’s no shame in losing to Michigan in Ann Arbor, or USC in LA, or Washington in the Pac-12 Championship, but this is the season that needs to show that Colorado is potentially capable of winning those games against the big teams.
Yeah, getting roasted by Oklahoma State in the bowl game wasn’t a plus, but it was the first bowl appearance since 2007 and the first winning season since 2005. If you told Buff fans before last season that their team would be playing in a major post-season game, they’d have taken it no matter what.
Now it’s up to head coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff to follow it up with another solid campaign to prove that it’s all for real and there’s hope for more big seasons and more runs for division titles. 2016 can’t be a one-off – and it probably won’t be.
The defense loses way too many important parts to be the killer it was at times last season, but even with just three starters back, and the depth a gigantic problem, there’s just enough talent and experience to be okay.
Will the D shut down the USCs and Washingtons on the schedule? No, but the offense should be better equipped to keep up in shootouts.
Losing a quarterback like Sefo Liufau is never a plus, but Steven Montez has more talent and upside – he’ll bomb away with a loaded receiving corps to help him out.
The O line is full of veterans, and Phillip Lindsay is one of the nation’s best all-around backs. If Colorado has to win more 41-38 games, so what? All that matters is that those wins keep on coming.
And if the rest of the Pac-12 just so happens to struggle again, that’s fine, too.