It won't be easy, of course. While both games are at home, they will each be against teams ranked in the top-25. Competitive and tough, both the Washington State Cougars and the Utah Utes are worthy opponents for the stage. A stumble against either would most likely eliminate CU from title contention. I wouldn't have it any other way.
These will be the most important games played in Folsom since 62-36 in 2001. Woe to you, the Buff fan who won't make a point of being there for both. These are the games you become a fan for, the kind that keep you up at night in anticipation. If you can't be bothered to get your ass to Boulder to see a pair of top-25 matchups with a conference title on the line, then turn your fan card in tomorrow.
Today in the bag, I'm talking last night's CU/Seattle basketball game, the football win in Tucson, and the Soccer Team's activity in the NCAA Tournament.
Click below for the bag...
CU vs Seattle Basketball Wrap -
November basketball is often like Gump's box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get. Such was the case this week, as the Buffs faced off against Sacramento State and Seattle. Coming off an opening night win where CU surprised by shooting 62% from deep en route to a 47-point win over a decent bunch of Hornets, they turned around to lay a stinker against the Redhawks. It was a surprisingly dour affair on Monday evening, as Colorado had to scratch and claw to the finish before salvaging the win late. The final tally, 67-55, belies the struggle, but still left everyone in attendance with an uneasy feeling about the team just two games into the year.
Coming out in a dead gym (less than 7,000 were in attendance, including just a handful of students), the Buffs struggled to find the mark against a zone defense, raising some eyebrows. For the evening, the Buffaloes would shoot just 36% from the field, and 17% from three-point range -- I couldn't have been the only BasketBuff seeing flashes of CBI-losses past as the team bricked shot after shot from the floor. These unexpected shooting issues lead to some nervous moments, with Seattle taking advantage to build a first half lead, only compounded by a frustrating increase in turnovers as panic took hold in the Colorado backcourt.
|XJ and the Buffs barely earned their CBI-fueled revenge over Seattle. From: the BDC|
Lucky, then, as the team slumped offensively, the defense and rebounding picked up over what we saw against Sacramento State. For the game, Colorado was +20 in rebounding, including 19 offensive boards, and Seattle barely cracked 30% shooting. Certainly, SU's penchant to leave the offensive glass alone helped here, but I still liked what I saw from the Buffs in pursuit of loose boards much more than I did against the Hornets. Defensively, while there were still some off-ball issues and open shooters, I still noted improvement on the ball, particularly out of the locker room in the second half, and it helped CU turn a halftime tie into a double-digit second half lead. While the Redhawks stormed back late, a pair of late threes from Josh Fortune were all that was needed to seal the result for the good guys.
|White was on his game Monday. From: the Post|
Regardless, the Buffs won. You've heard of survive and advance? It's a mentality that serves well in the doldrums of November, too. I'll take the win, happily, and look forward to Thursday night, when Louisiana-Monroe comes to town. Just one last opportunity for the Buffs to tighten the screws before heading to Brooklyn; I hope they take advantage.
Buffs fight off desert ambush from Arizona -
At this point in the season, with the Buffs still in contention for everything they've dreamed of, style points can be thrown out the window. This is now a zero-sum venture; win or lose, nothing else matters. That's why I didn't bat an eye at the partially discordant run of play in Colorado's 49-24 win over Arizona this weekend. No, I tipped my hat, said 'thank you, CU,' and moved on to thoughts of Washington State.
There will be some consternation at the aesthetics of the result. The 25-point margin aside, the Wildcats were able to move the football efficiently, and put the fear of another Hawk-esque road implosion into the hearts of BuffNation with 14 unanswered points to start the 4th quarter. Certainly, even I started sweating over the defense's inability to squelch-out the UofA rushing attack, which put up 257 yards in a largely effortless fashion. Still, a win is a win, and the Buffs did everything they needed to do in Tucson.
|Sefo returned to form against Arizona. From: the AP|
One nit I will pick, however, is Colorado's penchant for shutting things down too early, at least offensively. Mid-way through the 3rd quarter, with a 32-point lead, the Buffs started to go vanilla with the ball in their hands. This lead to a switch in momentum, with the Wildcats clawing their way back into the action. Luckily, the Buffs would go on to score a final touchdown to seal the win and forestall a devastating comeback, but I couldn't have been the only CU fan to nervously start chomping on whatever food was put in front of me when the 'Cats cut the lead to 18 points with 12 minutes to go. We've seen this before -- the Colorado offense can look free flowing and inventive when it wants to, but can also let teams off the hook as the third and fourth quarters drag on. To date, it hasn't burned them, but, with some explosive, cheeky teams on the remaining schedule, CU will need the ability to set leads in stone late in the ballgame. As any racer will tell you: stay on the gas til the finish line.
|Lindsay and the Buffs can't let teams off the hook, offensively. From: ooyuz.com|
The Bulle(i)t Points -
- It was a near-perfect day from the specialists. Kinney boomed all five of his punts, Chris Graham earned touch-backs on five of eight kickoffs, and returning placekicker Davis Price confidently nailed all seven extra points. Thumbs up, all around.
- Phil Lindsay is incredible. 25 attempts for 119 total yards and three scores, he got his numbers in while helping to keep the chains moving. So good, so underrated.
- No interceptions, but the turnover streak survives, thanks to Rick Gamboa's second quarter fumble recovery. It didn't lead to a score, with the Buffs going three-and-out on the next possession, but it was important, all the same.
Soccer Team soldiers on -
After their run at a improbable Pac-12 title petered out against USC and Utah at home, the Colorado Women's Soccer team is storming into the NCAA Tournament with a chip on their shoulder and an eye on the Sweet Sixteen.
|Evans and the Buffs survive and advance. From: CU Soccer on Facebook|
Advancing past the Round of 32, however, will not be easy. From here, they have to travel all the way to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the USC Gamecocks. If you were not already aware, Carolina was granted one of the precious 1-seeds in the field of 64 after a season where they lost just once (last week in the SEC tournament), and didn't allow any opponent to score more than one goal against them. They are fantastically talented, and a bear of a challenge. It's that time of year, however, and I've long since given up counting these Buffs out. The action will kick-off Thursday evening, right about the same time the men's basketball team is tipping-off against ULM. Go get 'em, Buffs!