Several months back in the heat of the early summer, Colorado coach Jon Embree said one of the games on the 2012 schedule that most interested him was this week's road trip to Fresno State.
The Buffs ended the nation's longest road losing streak in their final game last year at Utah. In beating the Utes that day 17-14, the Buffs snapped a streak of losing on the road that stretched back to October of 2007. It spanned 24 games played outside the state of Colorado and the entire careers of some players.
This week's trip to Fresno State is not just the first road game of this season. It's also the first opportunity for Embree to judge whether the program truly left the road plague at Rice-Eccles Stadium in November or if remnants still linger.
"I think we have put it to bed to a certain extent," Embree said. "But until you get a few in a row, it won't be completely behind you.
"Then the fact that we're going in still looking for our first win should heighten the urgency about getting a win on the road just cause it's our next game. Our younger players don't know and it will be interesting to see how they do in another stadium and all that. Generally it's your older guys showing you how to do it."
Fresno State has been a tough place to play for most visitors historically. The Bulldogs are 11-5 in home games against Pac-12 Conference teams, and since 2003 only two non-automatic qualifying programs have more wins over teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences. The Bulldogs have won 12 games against BCS opponents in that time. Only Navy (18) and BYU (13) have more such wins.
Fresno State is probably the toughest opponent on paper the Buffs have faced so far this season and CU lost its first two outings, which has the fan base in panic mode.
The Bulldogs are led by junior quarterback Derek Carr, the youngest brother of former Fresno State quarterback David Carr. Derek Carr has completed 68 percent of his passes in the first two games with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He's thrown for more than 4,000 yards already in his career.
The Buffs will also have to contain a solid Fresno State ground game. Senior running back Robbie Rouse needs 79 rushing yards against the Buffs to pass Ron Rivers and become the Bulldogs' all-time leading rusher. Rouse has 3,395 career yards.
Colorado won't have a new starting quarterback Saturday, however sophomore Connor Wood will play in place of Jordan Webb for a few series, Embree said Monday. The idea is to get Wood some college game experience.
Webb will be making his first start on the road as a Buff. The last CU quarterback to win his first road game was Robert Hodge in 2003 at UCLA.
It might be a good thing that most of the key contributors for CU this season are true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores who haven't experienced much of the program's pain on the on the road.
Sophomore tight end Kyle Slavin, whose first career reception went for a touchdown last week, said the Buffs know they're capable of playing well on the road.
"We have a lot of confidence," Slavin said. 'The season hasn't come out like we wanted it, but we still believe in each other and we feel good about going on the road.
"It's not the monkey on the back. We've got the confidence that we can go out and do it now."
True freshman defensive back Marques Mosley said he was aware of the Buffs' struggles on the road during the recruiting process. He said he's eager to get his first taste of playing in a hostile environment at the college level.
"I feel like we can go out there and play like we've been playing and just improve on some things that we messed up on," Mosley said. "Playing in front of the home crowd or another team's crowd is not too big of a deal as long as we go out there and perform."
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