It takes something monumental to motivate half a stadium full of college students to wake up before 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Supporting the Colorado Buffaloes at the ESPN College Game Day experience fit the bill.
Buffs fans exuded team pride at the University of Colorado's Coors Events Center today, yelling, dancing, and cheering as the backdrop for ESPN's weekly Saturday basketball preview. The sportscasters — Rece Davis, Digger Phelps and Jay Williams — reported from the court while spectators went nuts behind them. Doors opened at 6 a.m., and spirits were high despite the early start time.
CU sophomore Victor Rojas mistakenly thought he was attending the basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats when he showed up at Coors this morning.
"I was wondering why the game would be so early," he said.
However, Rojas was not disappointed when he showed up. The energy from the crowd kept him planted in his seat.
"This is great. I'm really glad I came out here. I'm surprised how much energy everyone has. It makes me believe in the team. The Buffs are going to win tonight — guaranteed victory. " Rojas said.
The Buffs, 20-8 (9-6 in the Pac-12) unfortunately were blown out by the imposing No. 4 Arizona Wildcats, (25-2 overall, 12-2 in the Pac-12) Saturday night, 88 to 61. A CU win was expected to greatly enhance the Buffs' credentials for the approaching NCAA tournament next month, but the loss instead showed how much farther the team has to go to keep up with the team at the top of the Pac-12 conference standings.
Even so, a packed Coors Event Center during the game showed how enthusiastic and hungry the CU fan base has become considering that prior to tenure of Buffs' head coach Tad Boyle, basketball had largely been an afterthought on the Boulder campus.
"It's a huge game tonight. I think all of us being here will get the team hyped and ensure tonight's win," junior William Finical said hours before tipoff.
Freshmen Mackenzie Greene and Molly Carmody eagerly surveyed the stadium from their seats during the Game Day broadcast.
"I love the excitement of it all. We like school spirit. We go to almost every game, even the girls' games," Greene said.
Carmody said she was really looking forward Saturday night's game
"I think we're going to give Arizona a run for their money," she said.
The Game Day event attracted more than just CU students. A group of boys from Broomfield High School were decked out in CU gear and jumped wildly in the stands.
"It was on my bucket list to come to a Game Day broadcast," twelfth grader Michael Wristen said.
Twelfth grader Cole Biesterfeld said it was the excitement for the Buffs that got him out of bed.
"This is the big show on Saturday that all the college fans watch. I have season tickets for CU basketball and football. The atmosphere here is the most fun," he said.
Upbeat music blared while fans hoisted banners and signs that supported their favorite team and basketball players in the air. Some found themselves swept up in the rivalry.
"My friends and I found an Arizona sign and tore it up in front of the guy it belonged to. He wasn't very happy about it," Finical said.