Brian Howell
Brian Howell

Throughout fall camp, Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has pointed out time and again that his team is very young.

MacIntyre and the players have also never hid their desire to end the Buffaloes' bowl drought.

In order to get to a bowl game for the first time in seven years, the Buffs need those young players to step up. That's why Friday's opener against Colorado State could really set the stage for the Buffs' season.

"This is a great way to set the tone for our season, going 1-0," senior defensive lineman Juda Parker said. "When I'm done playing here, I want to send these (young) guys off to a bowl game, so getting the first win is important."

Of course, winning Friday's opener won't guarantee anything. The Buffs beat the Rams last year and won just three more games the rest of the year. Six times in program history, they've lost the season opener and ended the season in a bowl game. So, it may not be vital that they win this one.

Considering CU's youth, however, earning a victory in the opener, especially against a good CSU team that went 8-6 a year ago, could be huge.

"Getting that first win, that does a lot for a team's morale and confidence," Parker said.

The Buffs are likely to send a host of players to the field on Friday that have never taken a snap in a college game. There are several others expected to play who have only a limited amount of college experience.


MacIntyre joked Tuesday that he worries about some of his young guys "peeing down their legs" when getting on the big stage Friday.

In reality, he likes the roster he's got and the progress his players have made. He just doesn't know how they're going to perform on game day. Playing a rival in the opener is a heck of a way to introduce those young players to college football.

"It can be overwhelming at times, but you just have to stay with what you've been taught, what the coaches have been teaching you," Parker said.

There should be plenty of energy in the stadium, at least. Not only are the Buffs playing a rival, they're doing it in the state's best stadium, Sports Authority Field. They're also playing in prime time.

MacIntyre just hopes his team can feed off that energy and use it in a positive way.

CU needs good energy to beat the Rams, who seem to have a good measure of confidence after breaking their own bowl drought last year. Head coach Jim McElwain appears to have the program on the right track, and the Buffs are well aware that the Rams did knock off a Pac-12 team in the New Mexico Bowl last year.

"They're a good team," CU quarterback Sefo Liufau said. "They went to a bowl game last year; they had more wins than us. Right now you can consider them the better team and that's OK."

Liufau is a sophomore who, just a year ago, was standing on the sidelines as a backup. He's one of the many underclassmen who could get a jolt of confidence by beating a quality opponent.

"It's definitely important to get off to a strong start," he said. "You want to kind of set a tempo to your season and where you want it to go."

Where the Buffs want it to go is to the postseason. This is the last shot for the seniors, such as Parker. That's why he and his fellow captains are doing their best to prepare their young teammates for what's ahead.

"(The captains) are really telling them how to understand, how to approach your first college game that you're going into," Parker said.

If the Buffs can handle this first one, it could set the tone for a good season in Boulder.

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