Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer ( PAUL AIKEN )

Why did we add Colorado?

That's a question Pac-12 fans from Seattle to Tucson are asking this morning.

The Buffs went a disappointing 1-3 during non-conference play.

They made Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz look like the body double for Michigan star Denard Robinson.

They played brilliantly in the Folsom Field opener before folding in overtime against Cal.

They beat the Sheep in front of a select group of diehard fans in Denver. The momentum of the Colorado State win obviously didn't fly with CU to Columbus.

The Buckeyes -- a team that struggled to beat Toledo at home before getting dominated by Miami in the Miscreant Bowl -- showed a national television audience just how much work Jon Embree still has ahead of him with a 37-17 drubbing of the Buffs on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

There will not be a rematch in the Rose Bowl.

Ohio State could still get to Pasadena if Wisconsin falters or Nebraska proves to be over-rated.

Sadly, the only bowling available to the Buffs this winter will be on the lanes at the UMC.

The CU defense struggled when it mattered most against Hawaii and Cal. The offense, which still can't run the ball, was bad. The special teams -- since when is catching kicks inside the 5 or rugby punting with your left foot acceptable? -- was nauseating during a long afternoon at the Shoe.

It's a good thing Larry Scott isn't allowed to trade CU to Chuck Neinas for Oklahoma and a team to be named later.

Everyone understands Embree has inherited a British Petroleum-sized mess that the first-year head coach is trying to clean up one spoonful at a time. The new staff needs to stack some recruiting classes together before it's truly ready to go on the road and beat an elite program like Ohio State.

This is a honeymoon period. With a lot of the former coach's kids tagging along.

Over the next nine weeks, however, it's very important that the current Buffs -- the seniors who are used to losing and the true freshmen who have been thrown into the fray -- show the Pac-12 some glimpses of why CU football belongs in this conference.

A 1-0 start would help.

The good news is the program's first official Pac-12 game will be played at Folsom Field next Saturday against Washington State. CU is a dramatically different team when it doesn't have to get on an airplane before a game.

If CSU was a must-win, then beating WSU -- the team picked to finish last in the North Division -- is a must-win. Should the Buffs lose then Sports Illustrated's harsh prediction of an 0-9 Pac-12 debut could have some legs.

The scary part about CU's slow start is that it appears the easiest part of the schedule is in the rear-view mirror.

Hawaii was crushed by UNLV. Comparative scores usually don't mean much, but Washington State -- ranked fourth in passing yards (380 per game) and sixth in scoring (49 ppg.) -- ran the Rebels out of Pullman, 59-7.

Cal is 0-1 in conference play after a 31-23 loss at Washington. The Buffs, now losers of 19 consecutive true road games, visit Husky Stadium on Oct. 15 after a trip to No. 5 Stanford on Oct. 8.

CSU, which beat lifeless New Mexico and UNC to open the season, doesn't have skill players good enough to make Boise State's scout team and will struggle for respectability in the Mountain West.

The Buffs dreamed of going to Columbus with three bricks and an unblemished record. Reality bites.

Some day Embree's program will fit perfectly in the Pac-12.

Right now the sobering reality is that CU enters conference play with a 1-3 record and a lot to prove.

 

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