BOULDER, Colo. – The Colorado Buffaloes need a victory over Utah on Saturday to avoid their first winless league season since going 0-5 in the Rocky Mountain Conference in 1915.
They've lost every one of their Pac-12 games this season.
"We don't really look at the conference wins. It just goes in our minds that we want to win," Buffaloes defensive back Terrel Smith said. "We came up short four or six times this year, double overtimes and losing by a touchdown or a field goal. It does bother us, it does frustrate us. But, we just keep fighting, having that fight in us. We approach Utah with a winning mindset."
The Buffaloes (2-9, 0-8) have been more competitive in conference play this year but they keep coming up short, including twice in double overtime.
"This year, I definitely think we should have had four or five" conference wins, Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said, "and we didn't. So, I think it will eventually come, there's no doubt about it. We want to win every game we play, but we definitely want to win this one, and it would be nice to win it for sure."
Other things to watch Saturday when the Utes (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12, No. 25 CFP) seek to finish with a winning record in league play:
GROUND GAME: The Buffs, vulnerable against the run at times, went back to basics in preparing to face Utes tailback Devontae Booker, who has rushed for 1,255 yards in his first season in Utah and is averaging 134.5 yards in league play.
"He's a guy that's 225 pounds, he's athletic, he's strong, he's powerful, he's run on everybody in our league," MacIntyre said. "We have to be able to tackle him well, tackle him low, especially when he gets into the secondary. We have to minimize his long runs. He's going to get yards because they are going to give it to him about 30 times, I'd imagine."
QB SHUFFLE: In last week's loss at Oregon, Colorado started sophomore Jordan Gehrke at quarterback instead of Sefo Liufau. It was Gehrke's first start. Liufau, who has 27 touchdowns this season, started the second half. He had a bye to recover from a concussion he sustained against Arizona a week before.
"You definitely get a different perspective from watching your position and seeing what the defense is doing," Liufau said.
No matter who is under center Saturday, the Buffs' O-line will have their hands full with Nate Orchard, who' tied for the national lead with a school season record 17 1/2 sacks.
UTAH'S AHEAD: The Utes and Buffs are often compared to each other because they joined the Pac-12 together.
"Well, I think Utah in 2010 went 13-0, spanked Alabama pretty good in the Sugar Bowl. They've had a good program for a while," MacIntyre said.
MacIntyre, wrapping up his second season in Boulder, noted that Kyle Whittingham "is in his 10th year as the head coach and he was the defensive coordinator for a long time before that. So, they've had tremendous stability there, they've built new facilities there, they have a program that I would say is a top-BCS, Top 25, program for a while now. To me, they are not even close to what we are when it comes to rebuilding or anything like that. I think they were established and ready to go."
SENIOR DAY: MacIntyre knows just how his senior class feels about playing for a program that went through three coaches since their signing day.
"I can honestly tell them that I went through the exact same thing. I played for three different head coaches. So, I've told them that from the first day I walked in here," said MacIntyre, who played for his father at Vanderbilt before transferring to Georgia Tech.