After what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most confusing seasons in college football history, the Colorado Buffaloes have failed to become bowl eligible. Their last chance was thwarted by the California Golden Bears in a 33-21 loss in Berkeley on Saturday.
The Buffaloes played hard in their last game of the season after falling 21-0 in the first quarter. Five costly turnovers would be the team’s downfall, but even after facing those challenges, they still managed to pull within seven points by the third quarter. Unfortunately, that was all they had, and the season would end the exact opposite of how it started.
Colorado had seven chances to become bowl eligible. Seven! They now join the Kansas Jayhawks as the only Power 5 conference team to start 5-0 and finish 5-7 since 1997. This is not the company that Colorado thought they would be joining after such a hot start. To go from 5-0 to losing seven straight games is a feat that can hurt the morality of any team. Over the past two seasons, Colorado has gone 0-10 in bowl eligibility clenching games after going to the Alamo bowl in 2016. They finished last season 5-7 with a three game losing streak and this season 5-7 with a seven game losing streak.
Winning this game was going to be tough after head coach Mike MacIntyre was fired earlier in the week. Upon losing to Utah, the university decided to part ways with the coach who is now owed $10.3 million. Changes needed to be made, and the tough decision to fire MacIntyre was finalized. Should they have waited till the season ended? That’s a conversation for another day, but they did it. Quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper was given the interim coaching job, and he led the team to a sloppy but hard-fought last game.
Colorado is probably one of the most talented teams without a coach, and the search for a new one will probably be extensive. I think this team has the pieces to be a contender, but the right coach is needed to tap into that potential. Colorado will lose leaders on both sides of the ball including inside linebackers Drew Lewis and Rick Gamboa. These two are the team’s number two and three leading tacklers. On offense they will lose veteran wide receivers Jay MacIntyre, Juwann Winfree and Kabion Ento, along with the team’s leading rusher Travon McMillian.
On the plus side, the defense will have great players returning including their first, fourth and fifth leading tacklers Nate Landman, Davion Taylor and Mustafa Johnson. The Buffs ‘problems were more on the offensive side of the ball, and if a new coach is looking at a bright spot for this team it’s almost 100% this defense. Offensively they may be losing some veterans, but they will still be led by Steven Montez and their two leading receivers this season Laviska Shenult Jr. and K.D. Nixon. The quarterback and wide receiver positions are proven players, but the main question will be around the teams running back’s. Freshman Alex Fontenot and Junior Beau Bisharat are the teams most experienced back’s after McMillian and Kyle Evans leave. Hopefully Fontenot is the back of the future for the Buffs. He had 43 yards on 11 carries this season . Now he needs the right coach to tap into the rest of his skills.
Hopefully Colorado garners a lot of attention from potential coaches. The team is prime to succeed and with a new winning mentality, they will reach that obvious potential. Injuries killed this team’s chance at success, and the culture needed to be shaken up. The success that the Buffs had at the beginning of the season was not a fluke, it was a product of their talent and commitment to playing hard. The Buffaloes ranked 19th in the nation and went on to finish last in the PAC-12 South for the seventh time in eight years. The losing has to stop and once they find their new head coach, we will see if the rise is truly real.