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A Bad Day for Colorado, Team and State

Oh, Colorado – the state, but also you, Colorado, the team. It was not a good day for the two F.B.S. programs inside the state’s borders, the Buffaloes and Rams, both of whom suffered ugly losses to F.C.S. competition. It started with Colorado, which seesawed back and forth with mighty Sacramento State before falling, 30-28, to drop to 0-2 on the young season. At least Colorado State’s already won a game – against Colorado, unfortunately. Later in the day, following in their rival’s footsteps, the Rams were shoved around by North Dakota State in a 22-7 loss.

This wasn’t a banner day for football in the Centennial State. For the Buffaloes, yesterday’s loss led Jon Embree to open up the entire roster to renewed competition. To which I ask: What took so long? And another: Didn’t you just do this in, you know, August – two weeks ago?

“Everything will be re-evaluated. Everything will. All positions.” And this includes quarterback, Embree went on to say, where Colorado really needs to find an answer. In yesterday’s loss, former Kansas transfer Jordan Webb completed 11 of 23 attempts for 99 yards. Webb threw a touchdown, but his lone score was more than tempered by his lack of poise in the pocket; Webb was sacked three times and flustered nearly throughout.

Against Sacramento State… again, this should be said. And Webb was only slightly better in the opener, hitting on 22 of 41 attempts for 187 yards and 2 scores in the loss to Colorado State. For Embree, a change under center would lead from one former transfer to another – from Webb to former Texas transfer Connor Wood. Wood cannot be any worse.

It’s time for one tough fact: Embree has been a disaster. No matter the hugs-and-kisses demeanor of the fan base and administration, it’s time for Colorado to really wonder if Embree is qualified to lead this program from rock-bottom into Pac-12 contention.

I realize that Embree is rebuilding; this is obvious. But shouldn’t this year’s team be better than last year’s squad, which finished last in the Pac-12? Through two weeks, the Buffaloes have regressed. If Embree’s team doesn’t make an in-season adjustment, Colorado might be forced to make a very, very difficult decision.

This is still Colorado, remember. This is a team that burst onto the national scene in the 1980s and 1990s, claiming one national title, several conference titles and making a run at perennial powers like Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Colorado shouldn’t be satisfied with irrelevancy just because Embree is a former player, one who stands near and dear to fans’ hearts.

Colorado State can lean on a pair of advantages over Colorado: one, they beat the Buffaloes last week, 24-20, and two, the Rams actually lost to a good F.C.S. team – a great F.C.S. team, actually. Not that there’s ever an excuse for losing to an F.C.S. foe; there’s just varying shades of gray, where not all F.C.S. losses are necessarily created equal.

North Dakota State is the defending F.C.S. champs. They lost once last year, to Youngstown State, and beat Minnesota in September. The Bison entered this week ranked No. 2 in the F.C.S. poll, with 65 first-place votes to Sam Houston State’s 87 votes. The Bison can play a bit – a little more than a bit, in fact.

Still, all the confidence the Rams developed during last week’s win evaporated over 60 minutes against the Bison. There’s the fact that the win over Colorado looks worse and worse; it’s a rivalry game, but it is not a good win in the least. Then there’s the fact that North Dakota State just physically controlled Colorado State, winning up front and dictating the tempo despite the perceived talent disadvantage.

The Rams couldn’t convert on third down. Didn’t crack the 200-yard mark in total offense until late in the fourth quarter. Had only six first downs through three quarters. In comparison, the Bison had 22 first downs, was 12-21 on third down and allowed only one sack. It was a banner day for North Dakota State’s offensive and defensive lines. They won the fight against an F.B.S. opponent.

So where do the two Colorado schools go from here? It’s look-in-the-mirror time for the Buffaloes – this program is in very bad shape heading into conference play. The Buffaloes are at Fresno State next week, a game they should lose, followed by nine games against the Pac-12. It’s going to be a terrible season.

Colorado State knew that Jim McElwain wasn’t going to rebuild the program overnight; in fact, if C.S.U. was really smart, it would have known that the Rams would lose to North Dakota State. For now, the program has great faith in the process – and the process isn’t made or destroyed in 60 minutes. The Rams remain in a better place than their in-state rivals not just on the field, as we saw two weeks ago, but also off.

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  1. Jams says:

    Air Force is in Colorado, and although they did also lose to Michigan, it seems they’ll have to carry the mantle for the whole state this season.

  2. JMM says:

    There is a third FBS program in Colorado, and though they lost too, it is still a bright spot. By six to Michigan is a lot better than either of the state schools did.

  3. JMM says:

    i should reload before I start typing.

  4. BobJ says:

    Makes you long for the good old days of Dan Hawkins, doesn’t it?

  5. George says:

    Our smaller schools in Colorado are making us proud this season. Colorado Mines and Colorado St-Pueblo of the RMAC are both undefeated and postseason worthy, and one or both could go a long way in the Division II playoffs come November and December. And FCS Big Sky Conference member Northern Colorado won a game on Saturday (admittedly against Colorado Mesa, another Division II RMAC school) after going winless in 2011. But a win is a win especially with the Colorado Buffaloes wallowing in the mud and potentially facing a winless season of their own.

  6. Dan says:

    @ BobJ

    That is just mean man. Hillarious though, had a good laugh.

  7. Bobak says:

    Poor AFA… Ignored.

    NDSU for the last couple of years has been playing like a misplaced WAC or MAC team with how it’s been ambushing teams.

  8. towndrunk says:

    After yesterday, I wonder if Colorado will win more than 1 game this year. My impression is the present situation in Boulder was many years in the making, starting with the decision to keep Barnett long after after he became toxic. The Hawkins hire at the time was defensible, though it became clear he wasn’t suitable. The Embree hire was desperate. No coordinator experience, but Colorado couldn’t afford the coach it really needed. I also wonder if the conference move effectively cut off their Texas recruiting connections.

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