When the 28 seniors on the Colorado football team leave the program in the rear view mirror later this month after their final game, it's already a certainty they will walk away owning some unfortunate school records and unflattering footnotes.
This week in the final home game of their careers they have an opportunity to avoid further scarring.
If the Buffs can find a way to beat high-scoring Arizona led by future NFL quarterback Nick Foles, they will avoid becoming the first CU team to go winless at home in the history of Folsom Field.
Only three previous CU teams have failed to win a home game in a season and it hasn't happened since 1920 when home games were played at Gamble Field. That season the Buffs managed to earn two ties in three home games.
The other two occasions came in the first two years the program existed in 1890 and 1891.
Three CU seniors met with media members Tuesday at the team's weekly media lunch and true their fighting spirit each still had high hopes for doing more than simply avoiding ignominy.
“We want to leave these underclassmen a three-game winning streak,” starting quarterback Tyler Hansen said. “That's what we want to do. We want to show them how to win and leave them on a winning note. We kind of have that road losing streak. That's a big deal with us. We want to end that for sure, but we want to definitely send coach Embree, his staff and all the young guys into next year with a three game winning streak.”
The Buffs will lug a seven-game losing streak in Saturday's contest, including five straight blowout losses against the top five teams in the Pac-12 Conference. The Buffs have been outmatched and outmaneuvered in each of those games, but the final three weeks don't appear to be as challenging or lopsided on paper. The Buffs final three opponents, Arizona, UCLA and Utah have combined for a 12-15 record this season.
Arizona comes to town with a 2-7 overall record, a six-game road losing streak (seven including a neutral site bowl game loss) and one of the worst passing defenses in the nation. The Wildcats rank 112th in the nation defending the pass and 106th in scoring defense.
Those issues and an inability to step out of the middle of the pack and into the upper echelon of the conference cost former Arizona coach Mike Stoops his job last month. Defensive coordinator Tim Kish is serving as interim coach through the end of the season.
After this week's game, the Buffs will go on the road at UCLA and Utah to end a brutal 13-game schedule without a bye week. They are one of just three teams this season in major college football to play the entire season without a bye.
Senior wide receiver Toney Clemons said he recognizes that the Buffs are facing better odds in the final three games than they were the past five weeks (four ranked opponents), but he also cautioned that too much can be made of appearances.
“I do recognize it, and as a competitor, I know me personally, I won't speak for anybody else, I honestly prepare for each game as if we're going to win and that we are capable of winning,” Clemons said. “I like to go out there and dominate. It doesn't matter what type of ranking or type of record those teams have.
“That's just me. That's the caliber of person I am. Looking at UCLA, they just put it on an ASU team that we struggled against, so they're no pushover. Arizona put it UCLA at home. So we know that they are capable of being great and being dominant. And Utah was in all those games. I'm not sure if they won or not, but I'm sure they were in those games fighting. Utah might have even beat Arizona.”
Colorado coach Jon Embree has been an optimist about his teams chances all season while also acknowledging depth and injury problems as major hurdles. He remained hopeful Tuesday that the team can find a way to win down the stretch, end the road losing streak at 22 games and send the seniors off properly.
“The want-to in this group,” Embree said when asked what he will remember about this group of seniors, his first as head coach in Boulder. “The adversity that they have faced. They've played hurt. They've played beat up.
“...This a group that there is still some stuff out there for us as far as what they want to do and what they want to accomplish. I'll remember them as a group that really wanted to try to get things done and really help set this program on the right path.”