Tyler Hansen is thinking redemption.
Whatever motivation Hansen, the Colorado Buffaloes sophomore quarterback, can muster, CU head coach Dan Hawkins will take it.
Hansen, who completed 4-of-12 passes for 48 yards and an interception last season against the Iowa State Cyclones in Boulder, was yanked in the second half and was replaced by then-sophomore teammate Cody Hawkins.
Hansen will have a second crack at ISU on Saturday at noon MST in Ames, Iowa, and the 19-year-old said he is ready to supplant last year’s memories with some better ones.
“I haven’t really thought about it until today,” Hansen said Wednesday of his performance against the Cyclones. “We were watching film, and I said, ‘Dang.’ I didn’t play as well as I should have. I’m going to come in with some swagger. I definitely want to get these guys.”
Much is at stake for both teams.
ISU (5-5, 2-4 Big 12 Conference) is one win away from becoming bowl-eligible, but it closes out the season Nov. 21 against a tough Missouri Tigers squad.
The Buffs (3-6, 2-3) must win their last three contests to keep their postseason hopes alive, but they finish up against the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who currently have a combined 13-5 record.
With their backs against the wall, CU sophomore wide receiver Markques Simas said he is treating the team’s situation as motivation.
“We’re using that as fuel,” Simas said. “No one wants to go home early. We want to be out here practicing in December.”
Dan Hawkins said he has preached a slightly different message to his players this week.
“The message is always a little bit different,” Hawkins said. “There are different factors that go into each week, and you have to address those things.”
While it may be a long shot, the Buffs can still win the Big 12 North division if all of the chips fall correctly. CU must win out and the Kansas State Wildcats need to lose their last pair to the Huskers and Tigers.
While CU has little control over the conference outcome, Hansen said a win against the Cyclones would be significant.
“It’d give us a lot more confidence,” Hansen said. “Our season’s on the line.”
The Buffs lead the all-time series against ISU 48-14-1, but the home team has won the last five meetings.
The previous two meetings between the two teams have been nothing short of thrilling.
In 2007 in Ames, then CU kicker Kevin Eberhart deposited a 50-yard field goal between the uprights with the clock winding down, but the Buffs were called for delay of game and was pushed back 5 yards. Eberhart drilled a 55-yarder as CU quickly lined up again, but the officials ruled the final second had ticked off the clock before the ball was snapped. ISU rallied from a 21-0 deficit at the half to win 31-28.
Last year at Folsom Field, ISU marched to the Buffs’ 1-yard line with 3 seconds to go. On the last play of the game, then-sophomore Cyclones running back Alexander Robinson was stuffed for a loss and the Buffs held on to win 28-24.
Simas said this weekend’s outcome will hinge on how each team plays out of the gates.
“We just have to have a higher sense of urgency,” Simas said “We know this is a big game for us. We know what we have to do. Hopefully we’ll get off to a fast start and get rolling.”
Simas had a breakout game last weekend against the Texas A&M Aggies. The sophomore snagged seven passes for 135 yards. His previous best performance was three catches for 47 yards on Oct. 17 against the Kansas Jayhawks.
“I’ve been waiting for that,” Simas said. “That’s a confidence booster for everybody. I’ve been practicing this week like a big-time playmaker. If you don’t practice like a big-time playmaker, you won’t be one on game days.”
Inconsistency has been another headline for both squads.
CU, which is last in the Big 12 in total offense at just over 302 yards per game, is coming off a game in which it churned out 437 yards of offense.
The Cyclones, who are averaging 21.2 points per game — which is last in the Big 12, have scored 8, 10 and 9 points in their last three contests.
The message for the Buffs, however, is still the same.
“It’s like playoff football in high school,” Hansen said. “You win and move on, or you lose and go home.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex Schultz at Alexander.email@example.com.