CU Buffs excited to battle No. 5 Texas A&M

Buffs’ last win over top-5 team came in 2007 against Oklahoma

University of Colorado Boulder junior tailback Alex Fontenot (8) celebrates a rushing touchdown during a game against University of Northern Colorado on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.(Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
University of Colorado Boulder junior tailback Alex Fontenot (8) celebrates a rushing touchdown during a game against University of Northern Colorado on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.(Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)

Every day, Colorado players walk through Legacy Hall inside the Champions Center.

That hall includes a list of All-Americans in CU history and awards won by past Buffaloes – including Rashaan Salaam’s 1994 Heisman Trophy.

There is also a collection of gold bricks, each one representing a defining game in CU history – from the first win in 1891 through the Pac-12 South division-clincher against Utah in 2016. In all, only 49 of the 1,268 games played by the Buffs have become “brick games.”

Printed on one of the bricks is, “Who’s next?”

On Saturday, the Buffs (1-0) face No. 5 Texas A&M (1-0) at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver (1:30 p.m., TV: Fox). It is, in essence, just another football game, but it’s also an opportunity for CU to add a brick to the wall and get a potentially program-altering victory.

“You do want to go in the game and treat it just like Week 2, and coming off a good one last week,” linebacker Nate Landman said. “We’re wanting to expand on that and treating this as just another game. Yeah, there’s that added big game feeling playing in the Broncos stadium and bringing in a top-10 team.

“I think the biggest thing for us is just to treat this as a game that will put us back on the map and this program back where it used to be.”

In terms of preparation and the need to play good, fundamental football, this game is not any different than facing Northern Colorado last week or any other opponent on the schedule. The Buffs are, however, aware of the opportunity in front of them.

“(A&M) is a highly ranked team that’s been successful for several years,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “It’s a great measuring stick for us to compete with a ranked opponent. I think those are really, really great challenges that you want to have your team face. Right, wrong or indifferent, those are the opportunities that we want to get ourselves to be in week in and week out. So we’re embracing that. We’re embracing the challenge of what this is going to be and we know we have to play well.”

On the shortlist of national title contenders, Texas A&M comes in riding a nine-game winning streak, tied with Oklahoma for the second-longest active streak in the country (Alabama has won 15 in a row).

The loaded Aggies are a 16.5-point favorite over the Buffs, which is actually better than CU’s odds in 2007 when No. 3 Oklahoma came to Boulder. Led by second-year head coach Dan Hawkins and freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins, the Buffs, who were 23-point underdogs, upset the Sooners, 27-24, on a last-second field goal by Kevin Eberhart. That was CU’s last win against a top-five opponent – and it’s also one of the 49 brick games.

These Buffs are also guided by a second-year head coach and a freshman quarterback.

Brendon Lewis, a Texas native, is eager to get on the biggest stage of his life and face a team he watched in his youth.

“I’m excited for the experience playing in the Broncos stadium,” he said. “I’ve never been in there before. Probably not as cool as Dallas Cowboys Stadium but … yeah, I’m really excited to play in that stadium and playing against that opponent. I did watch them when I was growing up, so it’s gonna be really cool to actually be able to play against them. It’s gonna be a fun experience.”

To make it a truly memorable experience, the Buffs will focus on limiting the mistakes they made a week ago – especially the 12 penalties they had against the Bears – having success running the football and playing sound defense.

Win or lose, there is value in playing well against one of the nation’s best teams.

“It’s potential for a huge confidence booster and to see how we rank up with those high ranked teams,” Landman said. “We’re not going to treat this like a huge, crazy game, just because we want to go out there and play college football. We’re not worried about who lines up across from us. We’re gonna play our game no matter what.

“It does have the potential to be a huge confidence booster in the long run and throughout the season and set a benchmark for how the season could go in the weeks to come.”

Only time will tell if this becomes a brick game, but Dorrell is confident his team will do everything it can to make it memorable.

“Our players are excited about this opportunity to play and compete and I know our guys will be ready to play,” he said. “They’ll compete hard. We expect to make great plays, we expect to do some really good things in this game and bottom line, we’re going to have to go and execute and do that for us to win.”

Game at a Glance

Matchup: No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (1-0) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (1-0)

Kickoff: 1:31 p.m. MST

Where: Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. Playing surface: Grass

TV: Fox

Radio: 630 AM

Odds: Texas A&M by 16.5

Series: CU leads 6-3