Though the Buffaloes limp into Salt Lake City with an awful 2-10 record and an even worse losing streak on the road, as the old saying goes, you can throw out the records when two hated rivals meet!
Colorado circled this game long ago. It's their Super Bowl. They've been throwing darts at a dartboard with Kyle Whittingham's face on it all year long. They don't even have red in their wardrobe. The letter U is actually banned in Boulder, or, as they now call it, Bolder.
The hate, it runs deep.
This is, without question, the most heated and intense rivalry in college football history. It puts Ohio State-Michigan to shame and has more history than Yale-Harvard and Army-Navy combined.
The Utah-Colorado rivalry is the Big Time, folks. It's what every epic contest strives to be.
We're blessed to be apart of this ever growing, ever intensifying match of two teams that are the definition of how to hate.
It wasn't easy, mind you, but I was able to hold back my hatred for Colorado long enough to actually do a Q&A with The Ralphie Report (ooooh, they make my blood boil!). You can read it after the jump (and I advise you to take some breaks throughout the reading, so that you don't gnash your teeth down to a white powder and suffer a massive stroke).
Block U: This year has been pretty tough for Colorado fans. Has there been any positives from this season?
Ralphie Report: The biggest positive that Buffs fans can take away from this year is all of the playing time that the younger guys have gotten. In most instances it was out of necessity, but it should help all of them in the future. Only 4-5 players from the freshman class are still considered redshirts. Eventually, Jon Embree and his coaching staff will hopefully be able to redshirt a majority of the incoming classes, but with the severe lack of depth that this program is facing, it's good for these guys to get the experience.
Block U: Do you think the struggles on the road are more mental or do the Buffaloes just lack the talent to compete with Pac-12 teams in their stadium?
Ralphie Report: Oh, it's got nothing to do with the Pac-12, this was a problem in the Big 12 as well. The Buffaloes haven't won a road game since November of 2007 against Texas Tech. To put that into perspective, only 2 or 3 guys on the roster have EVER won a road game as a Buff. We started The Ralphie Report 3.5 years ago and we have never covered a road football win. It's astonishing. There have certainly been some tough opponents during that stretch, but there have also been plenty that Colorado should have beaten. Over the last few years, it has to have been an issue with the Dan Hawkins coaching staff and the way the players were being prepared for games away from home. But at this point it's hard to think that it's anything but a mental issue that won't go away until some new blood has some time to work it's way onto the two deep.
Block U: Pac-12 or Big 12 – which has been more fun?
Ralphie Report: I'm guessing you guys feel the same way, but Buffs fans have loved the Pac-12 so far. It could be a bit of a honeymoon effect, but I doubt it. The rivalry with Nebraska was great, but Colorado belongs in the Pac-12 and this season has been great in that aspect. With Larry Scott steering the ship, it's hard not to love this conference.
Block U: What should Utah look for from Colorado’s offense?
Ralphie Report: The Buffs would love to get Rodney Stewart going on the ground but I don't know how successful we can expect that to be against the stout Ute defensive front. I think that the offensive staff will try and get the screen game going to Rodney that was so successful earlier in the season before opponents started keying on it. Hopefully that will open up the pass game for wide receivers Toney Clemons, who has torn it up the last three games) and Paul Richardson.
Block U: What’s the deal with this rivalry thing?
Ralphie Report: Ha, who knows. It won't be a real rivalry until one team crushes the dreams of the other (Friday???). But I have been doing my darndest to make it the most intense fake rivalry there is. Oh, and as someone who works in the snowsport industry... Colorado owns Utah.
Block U: How long until you think Colorado is back?
Ralphie Report: That's impossible to answer, being the homer that I am I would like to say next year, but who knows? I can give you a better idea of how feel about the staff so far and that may give you a partial answer. The only slight concern to date has been on the recruiting front, but there is still a lot of time until February and this staff has actually done very well all things considered. Embree most certainly gets a pass for this year and we have seen improvement from game to game when this team has been healthy. The non-conference schedule softens considerably next year, but it's years 3 and 4 that we expect to be in contention to win the South Division.
Block U: The Buffaloes defense has struggled this season. Why?
Ralphie Report: First of all, Colorado’s best defender in LB Doug Rippy is out for the year with a knee injury. He was the CU's best playmaker on that side of the ball and really, one of the only playmakers. So a big issue is CU is really thin at defenders who just make plays. The whole team is thin at the playmaker position.
Secondly, the linebackers have underperformed after Rippy’s injury. Usually a staple of the Buffs defense, they just haven't been that solid. Throw in the fact that the offense has done zero to help this defense play with a lead or play a ton on the opponent's side of the field, it is a recipe for disaster.
Finally, Colorado's secondary has been ravaged by injury and was depleted before the season due to the graduation of NFL draft picks Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. CU has been starting a true freshman at one corner in Greg Henderson, and for some of the past few games due to injury and four defensive back suspensions for off the field reasons, have been playing a walk-on wide receiver and a running back at cornerback. The strategy has literally been to throw healthy bodies back there and pray it works.
Block U: Prediction?
Ralphie Report: As much as I would love to pick an upset here, I just don't think that it's going to happen this time. I think it will be a relatively low-scoring game. I'll go with Utah 23-17.
DON'T THEY JUST MAKE YOU SOOOO MAD?!?