As far as the nation is concerned, Saturday’s game at Folsom Field between the CU Buffs and Iowa State Cyclones will be nothing more than just another Division I college football game between two low-ranked teams.
But don’t tell that to the 23 seniors currently on the Buffalo roster. For those players, Saturday, Nov. 11, will be the culmination of their careers at Folsom Field in the black and gold. While many would think CU’s 1-9 record would leave the Buffs little to play for, the team’s seniors provide proof that that’s not necessarily true.
“I venture to guess that it’s going to be pretty emotional. Last game (at Folsom) I want to get a win and leave my time at Folsom Field with happy feelings,” senior guard Brian Daniels said.
Senior place kicker Mason Crosby agrees.
“Before the game, of course, it’s going to be a little crazy – just running out and knowing it’s my last game here at Folsom,” Crosby said. “Hopefully lots of fans will be there cheering us on. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to it.”
For seniors like Crosby, Daniels and defensive end Walter Boye-Doe, Saturday holds mixed emotions. It provides them with a chance to run out of the locker room and onto Folsom Field one more time, but it also gives them the opportunity to reflect on their careers at CU.
“I don’t think (the emotions) are going to hit until after the game. After the game, everybody’s going to look on the field and say, ‘Dang. This is the last time we get to do this,'” Boye-Doe said.
The seniors on CU’s roster enter their final home game with a lot less to play for than they had hoped entering the season. After appearing in bowl games every year since most of the seniors arrived on campus in the fall of 2002, the Buffs will wind down the regular season this year with no hopes of playing in the postseason.
CU’s opponent, Iowa State, enters the game with a 3-7 overall record but a 0-6 record in the Big 12 which puts them one game behind CU in the North. Both teams are going into the game with the same hopes: to not finish last in the division. CU head coach Dan Hawkins said that despite the team’s struggles this season, his seniors have impressed him.
“Again, (the seniors) have been through some tough times; they really have. They have been through a lot of change,” Hawkins said at his weekly press conference luncheon. “I said before, when people asked me the things that surprised me when I came here, I think just their whole acceptance of the whole situation. I think a lot of that was (the seniors).”
The respect Hawkins has for the way his seniors have handled this year is reflected in the tough situation in which they were put. When asked how tough it has been having a coaching change take place during their senior year, Daniels said it has been hard but the seniors have respect for Hawkins.
“It’s tough, but I tell everybody that I enjoyed the other coaching staff. And if there had to be a change, it’s been a fun year with these coaches,” Daniels said.
Crosby agreed the coaching change was difficult but said the guys on the team have stuck together through it all.
“It’s been kind of hard, but a lot of us know how to adapt to change. We know how to handle adversity,” Crosby said. “It’s been difficult not winning a lot of games, but we fight, we scrap and we’re just out there working.”
The Buffs will get another chance on Saturday to fix the same mistakes that have plagued them all season long. Whether it is the inability to finish in the red zone for the offense, special teams miscues or missed defensive tackles, this season has provided a harsh reminder of how tough life in college football can be when the wins aren’t there. And though their senior year hasn’t gone as planned, the players are trying to keep the big picture in focus.
“I talked to all the other guys, and we’re not down. We’re having fun,” Crosby said. “We’re just glad we get to be out here together on the field and have this experience together.”
Daniels thinks he will be leaving with a lot more than he came onto the team with.
“Just having the chance to play football is a gift in and of itself. There’s a lot of people out there that would love to play college football, so every game you go out there and are thankful for,” Daniels said. “The losing is disappointing, but the friends you make on the team and the good times we’ve had together, that’s the stuff you take away from it.”
Boye-Doe, a senior defensive end from Keller, Texas, summed up this week’s final home game.
“We really wanna win. Win one more time at home,” Boye-Doe said.