The Colorado Buffaloes took care of business. Now the fun begins.
If there was a script for a letdown for the Buffs — a mighty big if, mind you — there were elements in place Saturday at a sun-splashed Folsom Field.
There was an underwhelming opponent one week after an emotional rivalry battle, and also one week ahead of a road date against one of college football's all-time programs. Plus there was the specter of Idaho State coach Mike Kramer having done it before, authoring one of the more forgettable days in CU football history when his Montana State club escaped Folsom with a 19-10 win on opening day in 2006.
All were intriguing plot points difficult to ignore ... and also ones the CU Buffs rendered moot from the opening kickoff against the outmanned Bengals.
Now 2-0 for just the second time since a 3-0 start in 2008, the question last year was whether a mediocre nonconference slate of Hawaii, UMass, Colorado State and Nicholls (like Idaho State, a program that competes at the FCS level) properly prepared the Buffs for what they would face in Pac-12 Conference play.
While that question might remain valid in 2016 with nonconference dates against CSU and Idaho State ahead of a trip to Michigan and the league opener at Oregon to follow, the Buffs' emphatic manhandling of their first two opponents shows this year's squad is far more prepared for the looming challenge.
Last year the Buffs stubbed their collective toe at Hawaii, barely escaped with an overtime win against CSU, and needed a second-half surge to pull away from UMass. This season so far has witnessed a complete reversal.
Granted, the competition through the first two games hardly gave the Buffs a taste of what's to come at Michigan. CSU didn't show up on opening night and barely escaped Texas-San Antonio in its home opener Saturday while turning to its third quarterback in two games. And Idaho State looked more than ready to head home at halftime. But outscoring those teams 100-14 cannot be overlooked, as the Buffs did exactly what they were supposed to against one unprepared opponent and another that simply was outmatched.
Before Buffs fans start making bowl plans, though, a sense of perspective must be indulged. Road tests against Michigan next week and even Oregon the following week will be beasts of a far different animal.
Defensively, the Buffs won't hold Michigan to five three-and-outs and a turnover in the first six possessions as they did against the Rams. And the front seven will find backfield penetration far more formidable against the Wolverines than how easily they tore through the Bengals.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Sefo Liufau and the Buffs basically have done whatever they've wanted so far, amassing 1,175 total yards through two games. Hanging 40-plus points on Michigan isn't likely, and in order to pull of an upset the Buffs will have to find a way to win in a far more closely contested game.
While the outlook for the remainder season might be better measured with how CU stacks up against Michigan, or even Oregon, there is little doubt at this point the Buffs will be well-prepared and even well-rested. If there was any criticism of head coach Mike MacIntyre following the rout of CSU it was his decision to leave Liufau on the field late in a game that was well in hand — even returning him to the huddle after Liufau got up slowly from a big hit with the Buffs up by 30. The lesson was learned, as Liufau's day against Idaho State was done before halftime, with the rest of the bench quickly emptying afterward.
Kudos to the Buffs for putting two lesser opponents in their place. But now the preliminaries are over and the true test begins.