Colorado isn’t necessarily lusting for revenge when they face No. 6 Washington Saturday night at Folsom Field.
After all, any victory by the undefeated Buffs over the Huskies won’t change history.
Nonetheless, what they hope to achieve is taking the lessons learned from last December’s loss in the Pac-12 championship game and apply them to Saturday night in order to improve the chances of snapping their seven-game losing streak to UW.
Currently, Washington is 10-point favorites over the Buffs.
“(Last year’s Pac-12 championship game) was a good learning experience for all of us,” CU running back Phillip Lindsay said. “Now we can move forward. It’s time for us to go out there and show everybody what we’ve got.”
Make no mistake, though. the Buffs haven’t forgotten the 41-10 defeat Washington inflicted upon them at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
“We’ve always had it in the back of our minds because we felt we got embarrassed out there,” Lindsay said. “Our goal is to be Pac-12 champions. We know (UW) is in our way right now for us to achieve that goal. “
Even Mike MacIntyre acknowledged the Colorado players still with the team who played in last December’s Pac-12 championship game will “definitely have to be thinking about it.”
“If they didn’t, they’re not really competitors,” MacIntyre said. “So, I’m pretty sure they’re thinking about it and they want to play a lot better than we did last year when we played them.”
Washington won by 31 points, but the Huskies led by just a touchdown (14-7) at halftime. The complexion of the game changed when UW scored on a 35-yard interception return in the opening 30 seconds of the third quarter. The Huskies kicked a field goal and scored another TD by the 5:00 mark of the third quarter for a 31-7 lead.
“From about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter to the end of the game, they just ran the ball down our throat,” MacIntyre said. “They feasted on us when we got down so far we had to throw it. They dominated the final 25 or so minutes of that game. But the first 35 minutes, I thought we were toe-to-toe with them.”
Washington rushed for 265 yards on 54 carries in last December’s Pac-12 championship game, outgaining the Buffs by more than a 3-to-1 margin on the ground.
Cornerback Isaiah Oliver feels the biggest gap between the Huskies and Colorado last season was the high degree of physicality UW played with against the Buffs in all phases.
“They just came out and were more physical than we were,” Oliver said. “We knew what they wanted to do and knew they wanted to run the ball. They were able to do that and they stopped our run game. Overall, they were just a lot more physical.”
After averaging less than 4.0 yards per rushing attempt against both Colorado State and Texas State (Bobcats held CU to 91 net rushing yards on 41 attempts), Colorado broke out for 212 rushing yards on 39 carries (5.44 yards per attempt) in last Saturday’s 41-21 win over pesky Northern Colorado.
The improved showing by the running game – albeit against a FCS opponent – has boosted the confidence of the CU offensive players.
“I definitely think we took a step (forward),” Lindsay said. “It all starts with those guys up front. If they’re being physical and moving people, it’s easier for me and other running backs to find holes. We just have to run hard. It definitely helps us when we can run the ball. We’re only going to get better. We have an opportunity to show it in this game. Both sides have a lot of NFL talent. It will come down to who is more physical.”
Washington coach Chris Peterson said Monday he expects a raucous atmosphere at Folsom Field on Saturday night. Lindsay echoed those comments by saying he expects the same thing for the Buffs Pac-12 opener.
The first two home games at Folsom Field kicked off at noon. Saturday’s game will kickoff shortly after 8 p.m. Those eight hours – and the opponent - could make for a far different environment compared to the Texas State and Northern Colorado games.
MacIntyre’s perspective? Playing games like these is the reason why the Buffs players came to Colorado.
“That’s why they came here, to be a Pac-12 football player and play in big games at Folsom Field on national television against the best,” MacIntyre said. “You want to step up and play against the best and see if you can be the best.”
Fueling the fire is the fact the Buffs have not beaten a Top 10 ranked team in a decade.
“It’s going to crazy at Folsom Field,” Lindsay said. “The fans are going to be loud. It’s going to be a great feeling. You’re going to see the Folsom Magic play out. It’s a later game, but we’ll be ready for it. We’re always ready for prime time.”
WEEK 4 PAC-12 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE (Sept. 22-23)
Fri., Sept. 22
Utah at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
Sat. Sept. 23
USC at California, 1:30 p.m. (ABC)
Nevada at Washington State, 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
Washington at Colorado, 8 p.m. (FS1)
Oregon at Arizona State, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
UCLA at Stanford, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
(All Times Mountain)