(Brian Howell / Buffzone.com)

During fall camp this month, a handful of media members stood just outside of the practice fields and discussed the possibilities for the 2014 Colorado football team.

"Am I crazy to think this team could get to a bowl game?" one of them asked.

No, believe it or not, it's not crazy.

Just two years removed from arguably the worst season in program history, the Buffaloes are a long way from the years when they could almost bank on an annual bowl game appearance.

Yet, with an experienced and confident coaching staff, a better and more physical pool of talent, a healthy mindset and a schedule that is fairly favorable, these Buffs have a shot at being busy in December for the first time in seven years.

For starters, head coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff gives this team a chance. They've done this before, transforming San Jose State from a dead-in-the-water program to an 11-win team in just two years.

Because they've done it, they believe they can do it again. That attitude has flooded the locker room, too. The Buffs don't care that they've gone 2-16 in the Pac-12 the last two years, losing 13 of those games by 22 points or more.

"To me, that's the whole identity and mantra of this football team; they don't care who they play," MacIntyre said. "I really believe they believe that now."

And, don't think the Buffs are going to be happy with showing progress by turning blowout losses into narrow losses.


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"We don't take any moral-victory situation, whatsoever," MacIntyre said.

In addition to their mental make-over, the Buffs have gone through a physical adjustment, too.

Two seasons ago, the Buffs looked overmatched, even in fall camp. They looked like young men trying to learn the game. Now, they look like Pac-12 football players.

"I had a couple pro scouts come up to me that have been up here for a while and they said we look like a different team physically when we just walk on the field," MacIntyre said.

With confident coaches and a better roster, the schedule doesn't look as daunting as it has in the past.

The Buffs don't have two FCS teams on the docket, as they did a year ago, but they do face a pair of teams — Hawaii and Massachusetts — that went 1-11 last season and aren't expected to be much better.

CU also faces rival Colorado State in non-conference play. The Rams went 8-6 and played in a bowl game last year, but the Buffs did beat them by two touchdowns in last year's opener. So, a 3-0 mark in non-conference play isn't out of the question.

Should the Buffs sweep the non-conference slate, they'd still need to find three Pac-12 wins. CU is 4-23 in conference games since joining the Pac-12, so finding three wins won't be easy. But, California is still in rebuilding mode, Arizona has major holes to fill and the Buffs have always matched up well with Utah, even when fielding worse teams. Arizona State and Oregon State — two teams that come to Boulder — aren't unbeatable, either.

Before making those December plans, however, keep in mind that it may not take much to derail the bowl game train.

As much as they want to win, the Buffs still don't know how to win. That could be a factor if they get into close games, especially with the amount of young players the Buffs will send onto the field. While they are talented, young players don't always have the mental makeup to get through tough situations, and that could cost CU a key game or two.

Also, this is not a deep team. The starting lineup may be the best it's been, across the board, in four or five years, but if key injuries hit the Buffs, they could be in trouble.

Without question, this team is going to need some good fortune along the way to reach bowl eligibility, but no, it's not crazy to think they can get there.

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