Anything can happen on any given Saturday - especially in the Pac-12.
That's all true, but with three games to go, it sure feels like we're watching the Colorado football team nose dive to the finish line. And it feels like the end could be near for head coach Mike MacIntyre.
I don't root for anyone to lose their job, but MacIntyre may need a massive rally in the next three weeks to remain at CU, despite three years and nearly $10 million left on his contract.
A month ago, MacIntyre's team was 5-0, ranked No. 19 and the last remaining undefeated team in the conference. On Oct. 11, he was one of 17 coaches named to the midseason watch list for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year award (which he won in 2016).
Since then, Mac's Buffs are 0-4, including an epic collapse at home against Oregon State.
At 5-4, 2-4 Pac-12, the Buffs still sport a winning record and could still finish the season on high note, but the odds are certainly against them.
Last week in this column, I went through some of the bad numbers on MacIntyre's resume. We know he doesn't often win games as an underdog (he's now 5-37 after the loss to Arizona) and doesn't beat ranked teams, which is a problem with No. 10 Washington State coming to town on Saturday.
Beyond the numbers, though, it's troubling to see the Buffs come up just short week after week, with self-inflicted wounds hampering them each game.
"We had opportunities to win the football game," MacIntyre said after Friday's loss to Arizona.
MacIntyre also brought up a couple pivotal plays that could have made a difference.
He's not wrong. Unfortunately, he said the same things after the loss to USC, and after the loss to Washington, and after the loss to Oregon State.
The Buffs have been a play or two away from winning each of the last four games. The problem is that it's becoming routine for CU's opponents to make those plays and not the Buffs themselves.
Right now, Colorado is making September mistakes in November (and late October) and trending the wrong way. Meanwhile, first-year coaches Jonathan Smith of Oregon State and Kevin Sumlin of Arizona are getting their teams to play better down the stretch.
By year No. 6, shouldn't MacIntyre and his staff being taking advantage of first-year coaches still trying to establish their programs?
Being close to winning and coming up short was OK in 2015, when MacIntyre was still trying to establish a foundation with this program. It's not OK in 2018, when he's one of the longest-tenured coaches in the conference.
By now - especially after the South-winning season of 2016 - MacIntyre is supposed to have a solid foundation and a winning culture that gets the Buffs through games against the likes of Oregon State and Arizona.
The way this season has gone in the Pac-12, maybe the Buffs find a way to turn it around. I'm not counting this team out, because I do believe there are leaders in the locker room and that the team is genuinely fighting to turn things around.
One way or another - the slide continues or the Buffs rally - the rest of this season will be intriguing to watch.
A few thoughts from the weekend:
1. In the final three games of the season, there are two players I would love to see playing for the Colorado Buffaloes - and yet, I'd be perfectly fine if we don't see either one. Receiver Jay MacIntyre and safety Evan Worthington are seniors who make the Buffs better and have put their hearts into making the Buffs better. Both, however, are in concussion protocol and it's not the first time. Worthington took a helmet-to-helmet hit from teammate Kyle Trego near the end of the first half against Oregon State and hasn't played since. This is Worthington's third concussion in the last nine months, as he missed part of spring drills and part of fall camp with concussions. MacIntyre went up high for a pass during the second quarter on Friday night, flipped and landed hard on his head. Coach MacIntyre said Jay is in concussion protocol. A similar play happened to Jay against USC on Oct. 13 and he missed the next game. That would be two concussions in three weeks. Clearly - as coach MacIntyre pointed out after the game - CU has top-notch doctors and technology to make the right call on these players, but for both, that's a lot of brain trauma in a short amount of time. I'd love to see both of them end their CU careers on a more positive note, but personally, I don't think trying to win a couple more games is worth the risk. It would be unfortunate if either one couldn't play again.
2. It's amazing how much things change from week to week in this sports. Two weeks ago (and through the first seven weeks of the season), plenty of fans were praising the job being done by defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot - with many admitting they might have been wrong about him. Now, he's near the top of the list of coaches they want gone. I'm not going to argue his defense has had a good two weeks, because it hasn't. The last six quarters have been a disaster. But I also don't think it's a coincidence that the disaster has coincided with Worthington's injury, and I don't think it's Eliot's fault that the cornerbacks all of a sudden can't cover anyone.
3. Arizona State's hiring of Herm Edwards last offseason made the Sun Devils the butt of jokes for months. Nine games into his tenure, Edwards has already upset two ranked opponents. That's two more upsets of ranked foes that Mike MacIntyre has in SIX seasons at CU.
4. Just for fun, I'll point out that the Buffs could still win the Pac-12 South. How? First off, the Buffs have to win the rest of their games. That would put them at 5-4 in the South. Then, they need USC and Arizona to both lose their final two conference games (more likely for Arizona than USC). Then, they need Arizona State to lose once more (let's say it's at Oregon). Should ALL of that happen, the South standings could look like this:
ASU: 5-4 (with a loss to CU)
Utah: 5-4 (with a loss to CU)
Possible, but I wouldn't bet my next paycheck - or lunch - on it.
The week's best Buffs
1. QB Steven Montez: He wasn't perfect - including missing an open Kabion Ento in the end zone in the first quarter - but on a night when he was running for his life and even came out of the game for a play, he still completed 27-of-42 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
2. WR Juwann Winfree: Had his most productive game of the season, with eight catches for 101 yards. He had several big catches to keep the chains moving.
3. PK Tyler Francis: Thrown into action for the first time at the collegiate level, the true freshman walk-on went 2-for-2 on field goals, including a 48-yarder, and 4-for-4 on extra points.
4. LB Nate Landman: Credited with eight tackles and a fumble recovery, he was around the ball a lot, as usual.
5. S Derrion Rakestraw: The secondary is getting torched, but Rakestraw's first career start was solid. He made several tackles in the run game, tied for the team lead with nine tackles and picked off a pass. He almost had another interception, too.
Stat of the week
This is more of a collection of stats all rolled into one big mess.
In six quarters since taking a 31-3 lead against Oregon State early in the third on Oct. 27, Colorado has been outscored 80-37, while giving up 907 yards on 129 plays (7.0 yards per play).
Most of that damage has been through the air, which will come as no surprise to anyone watching the Buffs. In those six quarters, quarterbacks Jake Luton of Oregon State and Khalil Tate of Arizona have combined to complete 45 of 62 passes (72.6 percent) for 660 yards, 8 TD and one INT.
That's a 201.35 rating. For context, only two quarterbacks in the country - Heisman front runners Kyler Murray (216.59) of Oklahoma and Tua Tagovailoa (215.17) of Alabama - have a QB rating over 184 this season. So, CU's secondary is giving up Heisman-type numbers.
Prior to the Oregon State game, CU was 31st nationally in pass efficiency defense. The Buffs now rank 65th.
Pac-12 players of the week
Offense: N'Keal Harry, ASU - I thought about going with Khalil Tate, but Harry's performance came in an upset of a ranked team. He had nine catches for 161 yards and three touchdowns against Utah.
Defense: Skyler Thomas, Washington State - In a 19-13 win against Cal, he had six tackles and an interception - a huge play in the fourth quarter of a tie game.
Special teams: Lucas Havrisik, Arizona - He did miss an extra point (which ultimately didn't matter), but made up for it with field goals of 49 and 55 yards.
Pac-12 Team of the Week
Arizona State: In the ever-changing Pac-12 South, ASU is suddenly the team to beat. The Sun Devils have knocked off USC and Utah in back-to-back weeks and now can take the division title by winning out. That's a tough task, but right now, they look like the favorite.
National Team of the Week
Alabama: Yeah, the Crimson Tide are the best team in the country and we've known that for a while, but I'm giving them the nod here because of how impressive they were on Saturday. Facing their toughest test of the season, the Tide went into Baton Rouge, La., and crushed LSU, 29-0.
A few thoughts on the Pac-12 after Week 9:
1. Washington State is clearly the class of this league right now, and the way this season is going, that means the Cougars are doomed. At different times this season, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, USC, Utah and even Colorado looked like the Pac-12's best team. Everybody in that group has three or more losses now. At 8-1, Washington State is rolling, but can they survive this conference?
2. I feel bad for Utah, coach Kyle Whittingham and quarterback Tyler Huntley. The Utes may have their most complete team since joining the Pac-12 and had their sights set on their first trip to the conference title game. They were rolling along with four straight impressive wins, and Huntley was the biggest difference maker on that team. Then, Huntley broke his collarbone in the loss to Arizona State last week. Yes, Utah was losing, 21-17, at the time, but still had a quarter to go. ASU pulled away after his injury. Now, the entire outlook of Utah's season has changed - which actually helps CU.
3. Going into the season, Pac-12 media picked Washington State to finish fifth in the North and ASU to finish sixth in the South. Right now, those teams might be the favorites to reach the championship game.
After week 10, here's how I rank the teams in the Pac-12:
1. Washington State (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12): Cougars had to really battle in the rain to beat Cal, but got it done and have the North division title in the sights.
2. Washington (7-3, 5-2): Huskies with a nice bounce-back week to knock off Stanford. This isn't a great team, but win out and the North is theirs.
3. Arizona State (5-4, 3-3): ASU at No. 3. Really? Hard to believe, but the Sun Devils are the team to beat in the South after back-to-back wins against USC and Utah.
4. Utah (6-3, 4-3): Tyler Huntley's injury could change everything, but for now, one loss shouldn't drop the Utes too far. There's still enough talent to finish strong.
5. Oregon (6-3, 3-3): The Ducks thumped UCLA to end their two-game skid.
6. USC (5-4, 4-3): The Trojans got their quarterback back and returned to the win column in Corvallis. With Cal and UCLA left, they could still win the South.
7. Arizona (5-5, 4-3): Left for dead at one point, the Wildcats have won two in a row and a get bye before chasing bowl eligibility. The last two are tough, though, at Washington State and home against ASU.
8. Stanford (5-4, 3-3): Perhaps coach David Shaw's most disappointing team. They're 1-4 in their last five.
9. California (5-4, 2-4): The Bears gave Wazzu all it could handle in Pullman, but still came up short.
10. Oregon State (2-7, 1-5): After the upset of Colorado, the Beavers were within seven of USC in the fourth quarter.
11. Colorado (5-4, 2-4): The skid continues, as the Buffs just can't find a way to get win No. 6.
12. UCLA (2-7, 2-4): Better days are likely ahead for Chip Kelly, but there will officially be no bowl game in his first season with the Bruins.
Quote the of week
CU quarterback Steven Montez, looking ahead to the final three weeks:
"I think there's only three more guaranteed games we've got this season. We have to make the most out of every single one of them. It starts next week with Washington State. We'll prepare hard all week, we'll practice hard all week, we'll get our guys ready and we'll give them the best game we possibly can play."
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.