Although four games remain on the regular season schedule, this has already been a monumental season for the Colorado football program.

Bowl eligible for the first time in nine years, it has been a program-changing season for the 23rd-ranked Buffaloes (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12).

CU is like every other team in the country, however, in that it has an Achilles heel, which is an ironic term in this case, since it has come about because of an actual Achilles heel.

Heading into their bye week, the Buffs are one of the better teams in the country on offense and defense. Place kicking, on the other hand, has been a season-long adventure, and there's no easy fix as the Buffs look to the stretch run of the season.

"We can't go get a free agent off the street," head coach Mike MacIntyre said after Saturday's 10-5 win at Stanford, where the Buffs escaped despite three missed field goals.

According to ESPN's team efficiency ratings, the Buffs are seventh nationally on defense and ninth on offense. They are 128th — dead last — in the country on special teams efficiency, however, and their place kicking is a big reason for that.

CU is scrambling from week to week and from drive to drive to find someone who can put the ball through the uprights.

"It's always a concern, but we've got to get it fixed," MacIntyre said. "We have no other choices. Those young men have to keep working at it. They have the ability. They just have to go do it."


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The kicking scramble began when senior Diego Gonzalez tore his left Achilles tendon at Michigan on Sept. 17.

Even Gonzalez wasn't a sure thing, though. Before his injury against the Wolverines, he badly missed a 36-yard attempt that would have given the Buffs a 24-7 lead.

During the 2015 season, Gonzalez was last in the Pac-12 with just a 62.1 percent accuracy on his field goals. He was 3-for-8 during the final four games last season.

Gonzalez did hit an overtime game-winner against Colorado State, however, and he did make his extra points, going 51-for-51 during the past two seasons.

After Gonzalez's injury, junior Chris Graham won the job. Then, he lost it after two missed extra points.

Freshman walk-on Davis Price took over and made his first 13 kicks (4-for-4 on field goals, 9-for-9 on extra points). Against Arizona State on Oct. 15, however, he missed an extra point and a chip-shot 26-yard field goal.

Graham took over again and finished off the ASU game. With Price at home with mononucleosis on Saturday at Stanford, Graham missed his first two field goal attempts, from 42 and 28 yards.

The Buffs turned to fourth-string kicker — and starting punter — Alex Kinney, who missed his first-career field goal attempt, from 31 yards out. They went back to Graham for a key 22-yard field goal late in the game against Stanford, and Graham delivered.

Now in the thick of the race for the Pac-12 South division title, the Buffs have little choice but to hope their kickers figure it out.

"Now that they've been out there and been in the fire, I think they'll keep kicking better," MacIntyre said. "You can't kick it for them. You keep working with them, you keep loving them, you keep hugging on them and eventually they'll get it.

"I think it's fixable. They kick the ball well (in practice); they just have to do it in the game."

Price probably gives the Buffs their best hope to do that. If he's healthy, he's been their most consistent performer this season.

If Price can't deliver, however, the final stretch of the season could be an adventure.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.