While the Colorado football team took most of the weekend off, it managed to climb higher in the national rankings and improve its spot in the Pac-12 South standings.

Nothing has changed about the Buffaloes' demeanor, though.

"They know what's in front of them and they know the only way you can do it is one game at a time," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said Sunday. "Slip up one time and it gets tighter and tighter."

CU (6-2, 4-1, Pac-12) got back to work Sunday, as it prepares to host UCLA (3-5, 1-4) on Thursday night at Folsom Field.

The idle Buffaloes jumped to No. 21 in the Associated Press poll and No. 20 in the Amway Coaches poll on Sunday. Last week, they were No. 23 in both polls.

CU also enters the week in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South, a half game ahead of No. 16 Utah (7-2, 4-2) and unranked Southern California (5-3, 4-2). Utah lost to No. 4 Washington, 31-24, on Saturday.

Sophomore linebacker Rick Gamboa said the Buffs returned to the field on Sunday — their first Sunday practice of the season — with the same focus they've had all season.

"I definitely think so," he said. "The bye week took the focus off a little bit, but as soon as everyone came in today you could see everyone was focused and ready to get back to work."

Knowing what is at stake has certainly helped the Buffs keep their eyes on the task at hand. They now know that if they keep winning, big things are in store.


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"Last year we were fighting to keep our pride intact, and now we're fighting to be Pac-12 champs, and it's just a different atmosphere with the team," receiver Bryce Bobo said.

CU is ranked among the top 20 in one of the national polls for the first time since Sept. 7, 2003, when the Buffs were No. 17 in both polls. This is the first time CU has been ranked in consecutive weeks since late in the 2005 season.

Unique week

All season, the Buffs have had the same weekly routine, but after last week's bye, and with a Thursday game ahead, this week is different.

"Today is a Tuesday," MacIntyre said on Sunday of the revised schedule. "So, they need to understand it's going to come quicker. A lot of our guys have played in a few of these, so they understand."

MacIntyre said he likes the Thursday games, in moderation.

"One a year is good," he said. "And, I like playing them at home."

Following the game against UCLA, the Buffs will have an extra two days to rest and prepare to visit Arizona (2-6, 0-5).

Price still out

MacIntyre said freshman kicker Davis Price is still batting mononucleosis and the Buffs aren't sure if he'll be available for Thursday.

"The doctors will let us know some more as the week goes on," MacIntyre said.

In the meanwhile, Chris Graham and Alex Kinney continue to work on their consistency with kicking.

"They just have to keep working on it, kind of like your golf swing," MacIntyre said. "They've been working at it, they want to do well at it. They kicked really well today, so hopefully they'll keep it up."

Notable

Thursday will mark CU's first home game as a top-25 team since Nov. 5, 2005, when the No. 25 Buffs knocked off Missouri. ... Washington State entered the rankings, at No. 25, to give the Pac-12 four ranked teams. Southern Cal was second among others receiving votes.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.