Every game, the Colorado football team carries symbolic artifacts onto the field: a tool box, a sledgehammer, the state flag and the United States flag.
On Friday, the Buffaloes will also carry a chip on their shoulder when they enter the field at Levi’s Stadium to take on Washington in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Ranked No. 9 in the national polls, the Buffs (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) are an eight-point underdog against the No. 4 Huskies (11-1, 8-1). And, that’s not surprising to CU.
“Nobody really expected us to be there; nobody, I think, really wants us there,” quarterback Sefo Liufau said on Tuesday. “We’re just going to continue to depend on ourselves and the guys in the locker room and g out there and try to put a complete game together.”
Safety Tedric Thompson backed up his quarterback and he also believes nobody wants to see the Buffs win on Friday.
Whether or not that’s true, there’s no question that nobody expected CU to be here, and the Buffs appear to be using that as a bit of motivation.
“I don’t know if there is pressure,” Liufau said. “I don’t think anyone is picking us to win. I don’t think anyone wants us to win, and that’s totally OK. We know what we’re capable of; we know what UW is capable of. We just have to go out and play, I wouldn’t say a flawless game, but to beat a very good team like UW you just have to come out there and play very well in all three phases.”
CU has stunned the national pundits, almost all of which picked the Buffs to finish last in the Pac-12 South. Yet, throughout the season and especially in recent weeks, they’ve proven themselves worthy of being here.
“This is an awesome accomplishment by our young men,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “It’s been a phenomenal season and we want to keep it going in the right direction.”
To do that, the Buffs have to handle outside distractions, including more media attention this week.
MacIntyre called it an “awesome” experience for the players, but said, “They know what has got us to this point and they know how well we’ll have to play and how well we’ll have to prepare to play against Washington.”
If that preparation includes a chip on the shoulder, so be it, but the Buffs know they’ll be ready.
“It’s kind of becoming a long week because we’re very excited,” Liufau said. “We really want to play against these guys, because if you’re scared of competition, I think this is the wrong sport for you.”
Receiver Bryce Bobo, who missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, has been practicing this week, and the Buffs hope he can play against the Huskies.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.