Game at a glance
Matchup: Colorado Buffaloes (2-0) at No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (2-0)
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. MDT
Where: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Capacity: 107,601; Turf: FieldTurf
TV: Big Ten Network (Comcast 410, DISH 410, DIRECTV 610)
Radio: KOA (850 AM & 94.1 FM).
Odds: Michigan by 20
Coaches: Colorado - Mike MacIntyre (12-27, 4th season); Michigan - Jim Harbaugh (12-3, 2nd season; 41-24 career)
Series: Michigan leads 3-1 (2-1 in Ann Arbor)
For long-time Colorado football fans, the Buffaloes' visit to Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday evokes memories of one of the great moments in program history.
Kordell Stewart's 64-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Michael Westbrook on the final play beat Michigan, 27-26, on Sept. 24, 1994. It's a play that's been shown over and over again, and naturally the current Buffaloes were asked about it this week.
The Buffaloes were also asked quite a bit about the daunting task of going back to the Big House and trying to take down the mighty, fourth-ranked Wolverines.
Can they play with such a talented opponent? Will they be overwhelmed by the moment? Will they wilt under the pressure of playing in front of an expected crowd of roughly 110,000 — the largest crowd to ever watch the Buffs play a football game?
For those who follow the Buffaloes, the week has been filled with all of those thoughts, all of those questions, and all of those memories from a glorious moment 22 years ago.
To the Buffs, however, this is not a lot different from facing Idaho State.
"We're not really trying to over-think anything like that," senior safety Tedric Thompson said this week. "We're just trying to approach it just as another game. We're practicing just like we practiced the last two weeks. We're really focusing on ourselves and how to approach the game and how to play Colorado football. That's our main focus right now."
Several players and head coach Mike MacIntyre agreed with Thompson when asked about the magnitude of this game. Their comments were not surprising. Most teams talk about playing one day at a time, or focusing more on execution than the talent of the opponent.
What stood out this week about the Buffs was the tone in their voices and their body language. They weren't just saying the right things; they truly believe those words. For a team that has emphasized its maturity all year, they have leaned on that maturity this week.
"With this team, we're so focused," quarterback Sefo Liufau said. "Especially the four years I've been here we haven't won a lot of games. We want to leave this program in a better state than (it was when they started), so each game we're treating with the utmost importance. Each week we want to go out there and prove ourselves and prove that we can play with anyone and beat anyone."
In recent years, CU hasn't believed it can play with high-caliber teams. They knew going in against Pac-12 juggernauts Oregon, Stanford, etc., that their chances at victory were slim.
Whether or not the Buffs can play with Michigan remains to be seen, but the approach to this game is different than it was two or there years ago.
"They understand it's how we prepare," MacIntyre said. "It's not the opponent you're going to play; it's how you prepare."
That's a testament to CU's maturity and experience.
More so than at any time during MacIntyre's four seasons, the Buffs recognize different formations on the field, they ask questions in film sessions to better understand the game plan. And, at times, they even finish MacIntyre's sentences when he's trying to tell them what to do on certain plays.
"They've been out there in the fire, so they know there's a trust factor between the players and the coaches now," MacIntyre said.
There's also a measure of confidence in knowing they aren't the same team that got hammered nearly every week a few years ago. When this year's seniors were freshmen, a game at Michigan certainly would have been too much to handle. Now?
"Being a team of competitors, we'll be jacked up for the game," Liufau said. "After the first play, we'll be all right."
This is, after all, what these players signed up for when they came to CU.
"You come to play the big games," receiver Shay Fields said. "This is one of true reasons you play college football."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.