Neill Woelk
Neill Woelk
The Colorado Buffaloes say they`re "sick and tired" of the road losing streak that`s hanging around their collective necks.

We`ll see just how sick and how tired they actually are this weekend.

Saturday`s matchup at Cal isn`t the game CU fans -- or coaches, for that matter -- would pick as the ideal spot to end the Buffs` road woes. This might not be the best team Cal has fielded in recent years, but it`s still a good one.

But when it comes to protecting their home turf, the Bears are very good: Cal is 34-6 at Memorial Stadium over its last 40 games, dating back to the final two home games of 2003. That stretch is even more impressive when you figure that the Bears are a perfect 34-0 in that period against teams not named Oregon State or Southern Cal.

In other words, the Bears are quite comfortable at home -- and quite successful.

The Buffs, meanwhile, have been neither comfortable nor successful at any stadium not named Folsom Field.

So what`s different this year? Why should anyone believe this weekend`s game at Cal will be any different than the last 12 times CU has played on the road?

"We have a lot of guys who are leaders," said cornerback Jalil Brown. "We realize this is not a vacation. It`s a business trip. We`re going there to win ... not to see California."

Experience is supposed to be one of the Buffs` strengths this year.

But the number of Buffs who have actually experienced a road win is scant.


In fact, only eight players on CU`s current roster saw time on the field the last time the Buffs won a true road game (Oct. 27, 2007, at Texas Tech).

Since then, they`ve gained experience only on the losing end.

But throughout fall camp and after the first win, we`ve heard that this is a different Buff team -- and maybe it is.

While nobody is going to mistake Colorado State for Cal, the Buffs did go to Invesco Field last weekendand take care of business. Equally important, when they won, they didn`t act as if they`d just won a national championship.

Instead, they acted as if they were supposed to win.

There was a level of maturity this program hasn`t seen for years.

"It wasn`t a surprise that we went out there and won," Brown said. "We were ready. When you are prepared, there`s nothing to be nervous about. It`s like studying for a test. If you study like you are supposed to, you`ll do well on that test."

But saying the right things and doing the right things are two very different animals. Buff coach Dan Hawkins still remembers last season, when the Buffs knocked off nationally ranked and unbeaten Kansas in Boulder -- then went to Manhattan, Kan., a week later and fell flat on their collective faces in a loss to Kansas State.

"You have to understand that sense of urgency," Hawkins said. "There has to be a little finer focus when you go on the road."

It will certainly take all of that and more for the Buffs to win at Cal.

"We`re older, we`re more experienced and we know what it`s like on the road," quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "It`s nothing new to us."

And along with that experience, the Buffs also have some confidence, earned by an opening win.

That was a commodity in short supply a year ago.

"Last year, confidence just wasn`t there," Brown said. "You`d wonder if the offense was going to show up, or if the defense was going to show up.

"But now we know we`re a good team and we know we can have a great season. When you get a win, it just takes it to another level."

Indeed -- and the Buffs can take that next step by taking care of business on Saturday.