Believe it or not, the opening day of the college football season is quickly approaching.
The Colorado Buffaloes aren’t expected, at least by outsiders, to have a very successful season. However, nobody knows what will happen on a weekly basis, and the conversation regarding Colorado is about whether or not they head to the Big 12.
The Pac-12 got a whole lot better, with the USC Trojans emerging as one of the best teams in the country, and the Buffs lost a number of players via the transfer portal (Mekhi Blackmon and Brenden Rice headed to USC as well).
The Buffs open the season against TCU in Boulder and then play Air Force and Minnesota in their next two nonconference dates.
Athlon Sports released their projections for all 131 Division I college football teams, and here is where the Buffs and their opponents stand:
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 92
Here’s what Athlon Sports wrote about Colorado:
After a promising 4-2 finish in coach Karl Dorrell’s first year (2020), the Buffaloes took a major step back last fall. Colorado went 4-8 in ’21 and lost six Pac-12 games by 15 or more points. Also, the offense averaged 20.3 points and just 4.5 yards per play in conference action, while the defense surrendered 6.1 yards per play. The Buffaloes need significant improvement on both sides of the ball to contend for a bowl trip. Dorrell hopes a new coordinator (Mike Sanford Jr.) is what the offense needs to get back on track, but major personnel concerns remain going into ’22. The line struggled mightily (32 sacks allowed) and key playmakers in receiver Brenden Rice and running back Jarek Broussard opted to transfer. Quarterback Brendon Lewis returns after accounting for nearly 1,800 total yards last year, but he will be pushed by JT Shrout for the starting job. Only four starters are back on a defense that ranked near the bottom of the Pac-12 against the run and pass. Linebackers Carson Wells and Nate Landman and cornerbacks Mehki Blackmon and Christian Gonzalez top the list of key departures for coordinator Chris Wilson to address. West Virginia transfer Josh Chandler-Semedo was a key pickup at linebacker.
TCU HORNED FROGS
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 55
The Horned Frogs are the Buffs’ first opponent this season and they open at No. 55.
AIR FORCE FALCONS
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 37
The Air Force Falcons have won 21 games over the past couple of seasons and they drop in quite high.
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 38
The Buffs lost to Minnesota last season and didn’t even score. This season, they play the Gophers on the road.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 39
The UCLA Bruins are loaded again and they crack the top-40.
Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic
Athlon Sports Ranking: 78
The Wildcats won just one game last year, yet somehow they are a bit higher than the Buffs.
CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 64
Cal should be better than last season.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 46
The Beavers landed higher than most would expect.
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Athlon Sports Ranking: 79
It is a make-or-break year for Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils are the lowest opponent Colorado will face all season long.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 10
Mario Cristobal is out. Dan Lanning is in. The Ducks are STILL loaded.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 9
Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams, Travis Dye, Mario Williams, Jordan Addison. Should we keep going?
The Trojans are right above Oregon and right behind Utah.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 52
Kalen DeBoer went from Fresno State to Washington in a massive jump. Yet, the Huskies are still dangerous.
Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Athlon Sports Ranking: 8
The Pac-12 champions are still on top, for now. Will they finish on top of the Pac-12? Who knows, but Athlon Sports has them at No. 8 nationwide.