Between them, Gus Handler and Jack Harris have had more than their fair share of challenges during their time in Boulder.

Like most of the other seniors on the Colorado football team, Handler and Harris have been through three coaching staffs during their five years at CU. Playing one of the most difficult positions -- offensive line -- that means they've been through three different types of blocking schemes.

Throw in various injuries and the losing seasons, and, "It's definitely been an adventure," Handler said.

That adventure is coming to a close, and on Saturday, the two seniors will play their final game at Folsom Field when the Buffs (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12) host No. 23 Southern Cal (8-3, 5-2). Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

"It's weird," Harris said of playing his final game in Boulder. "It's been such a long five years and so many different things happening. I guess we'll see how it feels once it comes. Right now it's like another week."

Handler and Harris were a part of CU's 2009 recruiting class, brought to Boulder by former coach Dan Hawkins, but they never played for him. Both redshirted that first year and neither one played at all in 2010. Harris missed the first part of that season with a shoulder injury.

Entering the 2011 season, the Buffs fired Hawkins and hired Jon Embree. That season, Handler played all 13 games at center, including 10 as a starter. Harris came into the season as the starter at right tackle, but broke his right fibula in Week 2 and did not play again that season.


Last season, Harris stayed healthy and started 11 of 12 games. Handler came in as the starting center, but played just five games because of ankle and knee injuries.

This year, they've both been in the starting lineup every week and have played nearly every snap together.

"Really this year is the year that we've had the most playing together," Harris said. "It's been good and we've played pretty well, so we've got to keep it going."

Handler and Harris have been the anchors of an offensive line that has gone through some growing pains, but seems to have gotten better as the year has gone on.

"I feel like right now we're pretty much firing on all cylinders," Handler said. "We're doing really well. We're probably one of the more solid groups on the team. We just strive to get better each week and focus on the details and the little things and just get better each week."

Individually, they have been great assets for first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff.

"Both of them have been really good leaders, No. 1," MacIntyre said. "They've bought into exactly what we would like and they've played hard. They've basically played every snap, and they've played beat up a little bit. I've been very pleased with both of those young men, not only on the football field, but their leadership. That's been good."

Handler lists the 2011 win at Utah as his favorite memory as a Buff. For Harris, he said it's a tough choice between his first win, in 2012 at Washington State and this year's season-opening win against CSU.

For both, a win in their final game at Folsom just might top the list.

"Hopefully we can win and it'll be good," Harris said.

Dangerous duo

When healthy, USC's Marqise Lee might be the best receiver in the country. The junior has 44 catches for 604 yards this season, despite battling knee issues. (He's listed as probable for Saturday's game).

Trojans sophomore Nelson Agholor has been pretty good, too. He's got 44 catches for 751 yards -- an average of 17.1 yards per catch.

"When they're both on the field, there's a tremendous amount of speed and athleticism," MacIntyre said. "You've got to play them tight and hope that they can't go over the top on you. If you give them too much room, they're so good after the catch on the run. You've got to mix it up on them."


Senior safety Parker Orms participated in practice on a limited basis Wednesday. He's hoping to play this week after missing Saturday's game against California because of a stinger in his neck. ... MacIntyre described his Tuesday and Wednesday practices as "two crisp days of practice, a lot of enthusiasm." ... In conference play, CU's offensive line has allowed just nine sacks. Only Stanford (seven sacks) has been better.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or