Colorado football players aren’t giving up hope just yet.
Down to the final couple of weeks of the college football season, desperation is setting in for a few teams.
A whopping 80 bowl game spots are available this year. Of the 128 teams in FBS, 62 teams have already earned bowl eligibility, while 34 have no chance of getting to the magic number of six wins.
Among the other 32 teams, 18 are just a win away from the six-win mark.
That leaves 14 other long shots that haven’t had good seasons to this point, yet still cling to hope. These teams are desperately declaring, in a very Monty Python and the Holy Grail way, “We’re not dead!”
Colorado is among the 14.
“The bowl game was our goal starting out this season,” Buffs receiver Nelson Spruce said. “(A 6-7 record), if we can get to that, we’re not totally out of a bowl game.
With a 13-game schedule — instead of the standard 12 — the Buffaloes went into the year knowing they needed seven wins to get into a bowl game. Sitting at 4-7 (1-6 Pac-12), there’s no chance of that happening.
CU’s hope, however, stems from the fact that there might actually be a shortage of bowl eligible teams this season. If that’s the case, a 6-7 CU team could slip in through the back door and go bowling.
Of course, to get there, CU has to put together a remarkable two-week stretch. The Buffs have lost 21 consecutive games against ranked opponents, and they’ve lost 25 consecutive road games against ranked opponents.
Just for fun, though, let’s say the Buffs find a way to upset No. 24 Washington State (7-3, 5-2) and No. 18 Utah (8-2, 5-2) — both on the road — over the next two weeks. That would put the Buffs at 6-7, with a very long shot at landing one of the 18 bowl openings.
In that case, how realistic is their shot?
For starters, the Buffs are going to need some good fortune along the way.
There are 18 teams just a win away from eligibility, but not all of them are going to get there.
Nebraska, for example, sits at 5-6, but the Cornhuskers have to beat undefeated and 6th-ranked Iowa in their finale. It’s possible, but that’s a tough task.
No need to run through the scenarios for all 18 of the 5-win teams, but it could realistically be projected that 13 of those 18 teams find another win during the next two weeks.
That leaves five spots remaining.
There are currently 10 teams at 4-6, one at 4-5 and two at 3-6. All 13 of those teams are in better position than CU because if they win out, they earn eligibility. Any 6-6 team would get a bowl spot ahead of a 6-7 Colorado team.
Not many of those teams will get to 6-6, but unfortunately for the Buffs, several have much easier paths to bowl eligibility.
One of CU’s Pac-12 foes, Washington, sits at 4-6, but the Huskies have two very winnable games left, at Oregon State and home against rival Washington State.
For Kansas State (3-6), it’s not impossible to sweep through a three-game stretch that includes home dates with Iowa State and West Virginia and a trip to winless Kansas.
No question, the odds are against the Buffs, even if they do pull of a miraculous two-game win streak to finish the year.
For now, however, the Buffs are still alive, clinging to their last shred of hope.
“We have to go out there with that grit, that anger,” running back Phillip Lindsay said. “Everybody can see that we’re here to stay, we’re here to compete. Now it’s time for us to win.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.