Beyond bragging rights and the green light to trash talk for the next 12 months, Saturday’s game holds a much more important meaning for the Buffs. It could be their first win of the season.
Saturday marks the 83rd meeting between CU and the CSU Rams, a series that initially began in 1893 until it was ended in 1958. The rivalry was then renewed in 1983 and became official in 1995. This will be the first year they play under its new moniker, Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Colorado leads the series 60-20-2 and will be looking to secure their 61st win. Last year, the Buffs dominated CSU with a 24-3 victory. While many may dismiss CSU as an easy win, Coach Embree knows well enough that no outcome is guaranteed.
“They’re 2-0 and we’re 0-2,” said Embree. “We have to find a way to win. Two years ago they came in and knocked the doors off of these guys…they came in here and then took a picture on the logo and rightfully so. That game has always meant a lot to me. I will make sure that if a kid is not an in-state kid they understand the importance.”
The Buff’s A-game has been sporadic thus far. In the opener against Hawaii, they were unable to find any consistency on either side of the ball. Last week’s game was the first time the offense showed some potency, but the defense and special teams remain shaky.
Embree addressed this inconsistent play and knows it won’t win them any games this season.
“We go on stretches where you’re just saying, ‘what are we doing?’,” Embree said. “But that’s our team. Whether it’s special teams, whether it’s offensively, we play well in spurts. From the Hawaii game to the Cal game, it was longer spurts, but we haven’t played a game yet. And that’s what we have to do. We have to get it to where we play a complete game.”
Buffs receiver Paul Richardson, who was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week after his record-breaking performance against Cal, is a key element in a Buffs offense still trying to solidify its identity.
Last week, Richardson compiled 284 yards in 11 receptions, setting a new single-game record in receiving yards and tying the single-game reception record set by Scotty McKnight. This past week, he has received increased attention from fans throughout Twitter and Facebook.
“I had some more follow requests and friend requests,” Richardson said. “My family has just been supportive like they always are, just congratulating me and reminding me that I need to stay humble.”
Richardson knows that his newfound fame will come with a price as defenses will pay much more attention to him.
That has yet to bother the 6-foot-1-inch sophomore, as he is ready and willing to accept the pressure placed on him by the opposing secondary and his increased expectations from Coach Embree.
“One of the Cal-Berkeley defensive backs said they even went to a double coverage on me in the second half, so I pretty much expect that the rest of the season,” Richardson said.
A large part of Richardson’s success can be attributed to quarterback Tyler Hansen. Hansen had a record-breaking performance alongside Richardson, throwing for 474 yards and 3 touchdowns against Cal.
“He’s such a great player,” Hansen said. “I took it upon myself saying we need to be special; we need to have a connection this year. He’s done a great job. He’s worked on everything. He’s worked on his routes. He’s worked on knowing the defenses. So he’s a complete receiver now.”
Despite an impressive aerial display, Hansen recognizes the importance of the running game for Colorado’s offense.
“We’re working on it,” Hansen said. “We want to run the football. That’s our number one goal. I think we showed Saturday we can throw the football, but we need to run the football. We need to get balanced offense. To win games in the Pac-12 we need to run the ball and throw the ball.”
Hansen, a senior, knows the importance of winning a rivalry game. Being that he is in the driver’s seat now, he recognizes getting the win itself is far more important than any rivalry.
“It’s real big,” Hansen said. “Not just because we’re playing our rival, Colorado State. Being 0-2 we gotta win one. Going into Ohio State 0-3 isn’t going to be good for us and we gotta get a victory this weekend.”
For the Buffs to get the win against CSU Saturday, the running and passing attacks will need to click on all cylinders. If the Buffs are able to establish a running game with senior Rodney Stewart and continue where they left off last week in the passing game, there should be no problem defeating CSU.
Kick-off is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday as the Buffaloes take on in-state rival CSU Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Shay Knolle at firstname.lastname@example.org