Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UPDATED: Buffs and the eastern road trip jinx

Please, allow me a slight digression into a painful bit of CU history...

When the Buffs head east this weekend to the palatial confines of Ohio State's Horseshoe, they'll not only be carrying their 5 year-long road losing streak and playing a more talented team, they'll also be fighting against a historical predilection to defeat on eastern road trips. While the Buffs hold a barely over-.500 overall road record, bolstered by a 103-57-4 record in road games played in Colorado, east of the Mississippi River CU is only batting a paltry .317. (For comparison, outside of Colorado, yet west of the Mississippi, CU holds a somewhat respectable .452 winning percentage.)
Crossing the Mississippi River has been a difficult task for CU in the past.
While the program's most important win, the '91 Orange Bowl, came in the very eastern city of Miami, something happens to the Buffalo mojo once the team crosses the "Big Muddy."  Hell, even in that magical year of 1990, the Buffs suffered their only loss of the season when they crossed the Mighty Mississippi to play Illinois.

In order to better understand the program's historical difficulty with eastern excursions, I went through the season archives at, and came up with this spreadsheet of results from games played east of the Mississippi.

Not surprisingly, CU started out their history of disastrous eastern road trips with a 35-0 loss to Amos Stagg's Chicago Maroon juggernaut in 1921.  Since that date, the Buffs have slogged to a 13-27-1 all-time record in trips eastward.  Of those 41 trips, including 9 bowl trips, the Buffs were held to 10 points or less 19 times.
While Bobby Anderson had no problems crossing the Mississippi for the '69 Liberty bowl, CU has often struggled when crossing the river.
Outside of the 11 seasons from 1969-1979, where CU went 8-7 in the east, the Buffs are a dreadful 5-20-1.  More worryingly, since Rick Neuheisel whupped the Wisconsin Badgers in his first game as head coach in '95, CU has yet to win east of the Mississippi, having been outscored 258-119 in 8 trips.

Probably the most painful of those 8 recent failures, at least in my eyes, was the '09 trip to Toledo, OH. Fresh off a stunning loss in Folsom to 'little brother,' CU headed to the Glass Bowl in hope of turning the season around.  Instead, CU ran headlong into a Rocket powerhouse that would burst to a 5-7 (3-5) record in '09.  Had the nation been interested, they could've tuned into ESPN that night to see the hapless Buffs give up 624 yards of offense to a mid-level MAC school.  The vaunted rockets would score on 5 of their first 6 possessions, en route to a 54-38 victory that wasn't nearly as close as the scoreline would suggest.
CU seemed a bit slow that night in Toledo.  I'm telling you, weird shit happens on eastern road trips.
Such is life for CU east of the Mississippi.

I'm not saying that CU is doomed on Saturday.  Stranger things have happened, and THE Ohio State University did look particularly awful last weekend in Miami, but it's a steep historical slope that CU will need to trudge up to claim victory.
(Updated for @BupsJones: While there have been plenty of trouble spots, things haven't always been bad east of the Mississippi.  Take for example this game here.  There is always hope!)

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