The Buffaloes (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12), however, have shown some of the resiliency they've displayed over the past few years. Last week was a clear example of that, as they bounced back from their worst game of the year (a 28-0 loss at Washington State) to produce their best game of the year (a 44-28 win against Cal).
"It's young people that keep playing, keep believing, keep hoping and we keep coaching them, keep pushing them and keep loving them," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Eventually things work out if they're talented enough and we've got some talent."
Now, with three games left, the Buffaloes are going to have to do something they haven't done this year: beat a team they're not supposed to beat.
So far this season, the Buffs have been favored in six of their nine games, going 5-1. The only loss came against Arizona, on a night when the unexpected emergence of Khalil Tate took place.
As an underdog, the Buffs are 0-3, losing to Washington, UCLA and Washington State.
The Buffs are an underdog today at Arizona State and will certainly be an underdog next week at home against USC. There's a good chance they'll be an underdog at Utah to close the season, too.
Of course, the Buffs are hoping the momentum from last week's performance can carry over to the matchup against the Sun Devils.
"(The win against Cal) serves as a reminder for everybody," receiver Shay Fields said. "We know what we can do. It's just a matter of coming down to execution. We executed probably the best we have all year. Keep it going."
If they can, the Buffs will achieve bowl eligibility for the second year in a row. They haven't gone to bowls in back-to-back seasons since 2004 and 2005.
Perhaps the wackiness of the Pac-12 will play into CU's favor this week. This season has featured several results that seemingly came out of nowhere.
ASU's upset of then-No. 5 Washington on Oct. 14 was probably the most surprising, but Cal's 37-3 rout of then-No. 8 Washington State on Oct. 13 isn't far behind. Cal hasn't beat anyone else in conference play.
Beyond those games, Oregon State nearly pulling the upset of Stanford, USC losing at Washington State, Arizona's win at Colorado and Utah's rout of UCLA on Friday night are all examples of a Pac-12 that's been unpredictable.
"I just think it shows the kind of competition there is in the Pac-12," CU linebacker Rick Gamboa said. "You have to come out every week to play. You never really know who's going to win. Any team could win any week."
The negative is that the Pac-12 teams might be playing themselves out of the College Football Playoff. At No. 12 in the CFP rankings, Washington (7-1, 4-1) has the only shot to get there, but the Huskies would need a lot of help.
"We truly are beating each other up," MacIntyre said. "With us playing nine games, we truly hurt our resumé a little bit more this year. Definitely if a team goes through our league with one loss and wins the Pac-12 championship game I believe there's no doubt they should get in the final four. So, we are kind of beating each other up, but that's part of it. Hopefully, the committee's looking into that and understands that and see that. Hopefully we can get someone into the final four to show what we're all about."
A few other notes going into today's game at ASU:
- Although CU is 0-4 against ASU in Tempe, the Buffs are 10-8 all-time in the state of Arizona, including bowl games and matchups with the University of Arizona.
- CU quarterback Steven Montez (2,059) is over 2,000 yards passing and running back Phillip Lindsay (1,234) is over 1,000 yards rushing. It's just the fourth time in CU history that the Buffs have had a 2,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher. The other years: 1994 (Kordell Stewart/Rashaan Salaam), 2004 (Joel Klatt/Bobby Purify) and 2016 (Sefo Liufau/Lindsay).
- Lindsay need 112 yards to pass Rodney Stewart for second place on CU's all-time rushing list.
- Shay Fields needs 129 receiving yards to jump from sixth all-time to second.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.