CU starting cornerback Greg Henderson, here in practice last week, was 14-years old the last time the Buffs won on the road.
CU starting cornerback Greg Henderson, here in practice last week, was 14-years old the last time the Buffs won on the road. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

There have been worse losing streaks in college football history.

Northwestern lost a record 34 consecutive games from 1979-82. More locally, Colorado State lost 26 games from 1960-63.

In 2007, Navy ended a 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame. It wasn't easy. The Midshipmen finally sunk the Irish, 46-44, in triple overtime.

So Colorado's 17-game road losing streak -- 18 straight out-of-state losses if you thrown in the 2007 Independence Bowl defeat against Alabama -- isn't the most unpalatable streak in the sport.

It just tastes that way in the Buffs' locker room, especially for the seniors that have been talking about it for years now.

"That's a big issue that revolves around this program," starting quarterback and team captain Tyler Hansen said. "It's a distraction. Guys are thinking about it. I think the sooner you can get that over with, the better for the team. Starting right off the bat going to Hawaii is a good thing for us."

The Buffs have a chance to say aloha to the skid this Saturday in the 2011 opener at Hawaii (8:15 p.m., ESPN2).

"We're Colorado, we don't care. We could go play down the street in the parking lot," offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. "The bottom line is we want to make sure the guys getting on the plane understand the purpose of why we're taking that trip."

 


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CU kicks off a brutal schedule, which includes seven true road games and the Colorado State game at Sports Authority Field in Denver, in Honolulu. The Buffs also play true road games at Ohio State, Stanford, Washington, Arizona State, UCLA and Utah.

The last CU road victory was on Oct. 27, 2007, at Texas Tech. The Buffs beat the Red Raiders 31-26 in Lubbock during Dan Hawkins' second season.

Hansen was a senior in high school that fall. Greg Henderson, one of CU's starting cornerbacks this season, was 14-years old.

Five players currently on the roster made the trip to Lubbock. Ryan Miller started, and Brian Lockridge also played in the game. Jason Espinoza, Matt Bahr, and Josh Hartigan all made the trip but did not participate.

"I remember the fight song," Miller said. "That's about it."

The Buffs always sing the fight song on the flight home after a big win. The team charter has been an uncomfortably silent place in recent years.

"I don't know what it is. I came from high school where we won four road games in a row and then went undefeated my senior season," senior tight end Ryan Deehan said. "I wasn't used to losing coming here, and to lose all these games ... I'm just ready to get this done."

The veteran players have been through a lot, including a coaching change last season. The new staff is determined to change the road culture as soon as possible.

"Last year we didn't expect to win. I think that's the biggest thing the (new) coaches saw on film. Things went wrong and it was like, 'Oh, here we go again,' " Hansen said. "That's the biggest thing is we need to have confidence throughout the game."

Last November the Buffs were dominating Kansas in Lawrence. The visitors were leading by 28 points early in the fourth quarter.

But the Jayhawks scored 35 unanswered points to pull out a 52-45 win. In 121 years of football, CU had never coughed up a 28-point lead.

"We were never in that situation before. That lead was getting a little too comfortable," said Hansen, who made the trip but did not play due to injury. "I was on the sideline doing my signal stuff and I thought the game was in hand. I was just as comfortable as everyone.

"I think that's one thing Embree is talking about when we do live game situations, if the offense is doing great you must step on their throats and keep driving. It might be 45-17, but let's keep scoring."

Following the epic collapse, Dan Hawkins was fired. Interim head coach Brian Cabral immediately brought back some old traditions to the locker room and restored some pride with back-to-back home wins over Iowa State and Kansas State.

But in CU's final Big 12 road game the team was drubbed 45-17 by Nebraska. The Buffs finished one win shy of bowl eligibility, and the season ended with a miserable trip back from Lincoln.

"We've got something to prove on the road," Cabral said. "The sooner, the better."

Aloha Stadium is located approximately 3,324 miles from Boulder. If the Buffs don't win it will feel like a flight to Mars.

Perhaps the team is fortunate that there isn't a highway to Honolulu.

"We've lost 18 on the road. Maybe we need to start taking buses," Embree said. "I'm excited that our first game is on the road, because I want to get that over with. I want to get it over with."

Embree will place a brick on the wall inside the Dal Ward Center with the score engraved in it if CU prevails against Hawaii.

"We want to get that first win for Embree. We don't want him to start off 0-1 as a head coach, we want him to be 1-0," Hansen said. "The next week that 2001 team is coming back and we want those bricks to be back up there for them. That would be real special. ...

"We have a lot to play for this season. This group has gone through a lot. And I think we want to get that road win done with and the streak in the past."