Outside losing locker rooms over the past three years on the road, the single most often used phrase from disappointed Colorado football players and coaches has been some version of, "We shot ourselves in the foot."
Generally the explanation has been focused on a failure to execute and a lack of production from the offense. For some reason no one around the program has been able to explain, the Buffs just can't seem to get the ball in the end zone much when they leave the comfort of home.
CU travels to Ohio State on Saturday carrying the baggage of an 18-game road losing streak that just about everyone in and around the program is sick and tired of discussing. Perhaps the largest contributing factor to the streak lasting as long as it has is CU's lack of an offensive punch.
The Buffs have averaged just 18.2 points in those 18 road losses and that number is inflated heavily by two games. CU lost at Toledo in 2009 despite scoring 38 points, and it lost at Kansas last season despite scoring 45 points. That performance ultimately cost former coach Dan Hawkins his job.
They have been shut out twice during the streak, both times at Missouri, and they have scored 14 or fewer points eight times.
"We need to come out and play well in the first half," senior guard Ryan Miller said. "I think that has been an unfortunate theme in the past couple years of this team. When we start fast, we do pretty well, but when it takes us a couple quarters to get going, we've dug ourselves too big a hole."
Starting fast offensively will be an even bigger challenge than it normally is against the Buckeyes, who are giving up just 15 points a game so far this season and have a tremendous home-field advantage playing in front of nearly 103,000 fans.
The losing streak isn't only reflected on the scoreboard. The Buffs have failed to produce at least 300 yards of total offense 11 times during the streak. They failed to reach the 200-yard mark for total offense twice.
This season's team fell into its old pattern in its first road game at Hawaii. Despite a coaching change and an entire offseason spent focused on the game, the Buffs managed to start slowly and fell behind 17-0.
But there was a reason for hope in the game, too. CU fought back for a change on the road and gave itself a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
"I think that's something we need to build on," quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "We're close."
There is probably no more clear example of the disparity between the Buffs' level of comfort and competency on offense at home and on the road than the Hawaii game and Week 2 against Cal.
At Hawaii, they finished with 240 yards of total offense and struggled to find any consistency all night. The Buffs scored 30 points in regulation and put up nearly 600 yards of total offense in their first home game the next week.
"We're sick and tired of being that team," Miller said. "This team has got passion. This team has got fire and it needs to take more than being down in the first half to get that going."