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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - SEPTEMBER 10: Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) heads to the end zone for a touchdown against Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Kaylin Moore in the first quarter at Falcon Stadium September 10, 2022. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – SEPTEMBER 10: Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) heads to the end zone for a touchdown against Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Kaylin Moore in the first quarter at Falcon Stadium September 10, 2022. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
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Following consecutive blowout losses to open the season, the Colorado football team could really use one of those relatively easy games that show up on the slate for most teams.

In the past, CU has worked out some issues in dominating wins over the likes of Idaho State, Nicholls State and Texas State.

There is no break for the Buffaloes this year, though. Following a 41-10 loss at Air Force, the Buffs will visit Minnesota on Saturday (1:30 p.m., ESPN2). The Gophers (2-0), who routed CU, 30-0, in Boulder last year, have outscored their first two opponents 100-10 this year.

CU is one of only two teams in the country, along with West Virginia, to have 11 Power 5 conference opponents on the schedule. The only non-Power 5 foe for CU was Air Force.

“That’s what’s great about the season – you kind of get into a rhythm of playing on Saturdays,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “Our conference schedule is always tough. Minnesota obviously is a very good program. We played them a year ago and they beat us badly in our place and now we’re going to their place, so we have a lot of work to do and it’s just what it is. There’s no complaints about the schedule. We’re just going to continue to get better and try to climb and get better each and every week.”

CU (0-2) faces a serious climb just two weeks into the season.

For the first time since 1974, the Buffs have been beaten by at least 25 points in each of the first two games of the season. The 1974 squad, coached by Bill Mallory, then won three in a row and five of its last eight to finish 5-6.

If this year’s team is to duplicate that turnaround, it’s going to take a monumental effort.

“A lot of the guys, we’ve dealt with so much adversity greater than football to when something happens on the field, you’ve already been through it,” guard Casey Roddick said. “Might as well keep going. That’s the thing about it. Yeah, it’s deflating, but so what, now what?”

Now in his third season with the Buffs, Dorrell is 4-12 in his last 16 games, making that 4-0 start in 2020 a distant memory.

With a fairly young roster and six new assistant coaches, Dorrell insists the pieces are in place to get the program fixed, but recognizes it won’t be quick.

“We’re really at the bottom and we’re trying to work our way back up right now,” he said. “It hasn’t hit home yet (with the players) and sometimes with younger players, it takes a little bit of time, but I don’t like to use that excuse. I really don’t. They played football in high school. They’re playing in college. It’s the same game. Sure, the talent is a little higher, it’s a bigger level, but we’ve got to play better.

“Bottom line, we’re not playing well. We’ve had good practices, but that hasn’t translated to what it should look like on Saturdays. We’ll get better.”

That schedule won’t make it easy, though. Following the visit to Minnesota, the Buffs begin the nine-game Pac-12 schedule.

“The season is still early; it’s week two,” defensive lineman Jalen Sami said. “We’ve just got to keep our head on the right path, move on to the next game. As we understand and see our mistakes, we can look forward to Minnesota next week. But we’ve definitely got to look deeper inside ourselves individually, and just see what we can do to change and become better.”

Praise for the D

Giving up 41 points and 435 rushing yards is never a good thing, but Roddick did give credit to the CU defense for keeping the Buffs in the game for a while on Saturday.

Both of Air Force’s first-half touchdowns were scored after CU turnovers. Other than that the Buffs held the Falcons to two field goals, forced three punt attempts and recovered two fumbles in the first two-and-a-half quarters. It wasn’t until the final 18 minutes of the game that Air Force pulled away.

“Defense played their (tail) off,” Roddick said. “I want to give a shout out to the defense. … To keep that game as close as it was, as long as they could, that’s kudos to them.”

Sami, who had four tackles, was pleased with the overall effort, but not the results.

“We didn’t give up,” he said. “We still were out there fighting 60 minutes, working, trying to get the ball to offense, which we did, causing three turnovers. That’s one thing we keep our heads up on. At the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done, so we’ve got to get that fixed.”

Notable

CU opens up as a 27.5-point underdog for Saturday’s game at Minnesota. The Buffs haven’t been that big of an underdog since the 2019 season finale at Utah (28.0 points). … CU is making its first trip to Minnesota since 1992. The Buffs won that matchup, 21-20.

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