Head Coach: Mike MacIntyre
2014 record: 2-10 overall, 0-9 Pac 12 South
2014 Postseason results: None
2015 returning starters: 6 offense, 9 defense
Odds to win 2016 College Football Championship game: 800/1
Odds to win 2015 Pac 12 Championship Game: 200/1
Odds to Win 2015 Pac 12 South Division: 55/1
Regular season wins: under 5 -145 / over 5 +115
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In four seasons in the Pac 12, Colorado has gone 10-39 including just 3 wins in Pac 12 play. Last year it was another miserable season with a 2-10 record, including 0-9 in the Pac 12. Even before the program left the Big 12 for the Pac 12, Colorado hasn’t won more than six games in a season since a 7-6 campaign in 2005.
Progress must be made soon. Wins over Hawaii and Massachusetts by a combined 12 points won’t cut it. There are only so many moral victories any program can have before they become meaningless. Colorado had double overtime losses to California and UCLA each by a field goal and narrow losses to Utah and Oregon State by a combined 9 points. Every other loss was by at least 14 points.
Fifteen starters are back for the Buffaloes and coach Mike MacIntyre, now in his third year. For a change, Colorado is actually not picked to finish last in the Pac 12. That dubious honor goes to Oregon State.
Colorado was much improved on offense last year, and were ranked in the top 40 nationally in both total offense and passing at 442 and 285 yards respectively. However the Buffaloes were -10 in turnovers and only averaged 29 points per game. Six starters are back for offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren.
Junior quarterback Sefo Liufau is back as the starter for a second straight season. Last year, he completed 65.3% of his passes for 3,200 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and also rushed for 136 yards on 69 carries. He must cut down on the interceptions or it will be another long season in Boulder. Junior Jordan Gerhke returns as the back-up after throwing for 170 yards, and adding a rushing touchdown.
Four of the five leading rushers from last season are back including Liufau. The only exception is Tony Jones who had 94 carries for 403 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also added 24 catches for 151 yards. Christian Powell had 85 carries for 448 yards and four touchdowns, plus 12 catches. Michael Adkins II had 81 carries for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 11 catches. Phillip Lindsay had 79 carries for 391 yards, along with 14 catches. Aaron Baltazar transferred from Boise State and could be in line for the carries that went to Jones last year. Incoming freshmen Patrick Carr and Donald Gordon will also be in the mix. Fullback George Frazier had a rushing touchdown and caught 3 touchdown passes last year as a freshman.
Leading receiver Nelson Spruce is back as Liufau’s security blanket. Spruce had 106 catches for 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns. Shay Fields had 50 catches for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also added a rushing touchdown. Tyler McCollough and D.D. Goodson combined for 68 catches and 4 touchdowns but both have graduated. Bryce Bobo is back after making 23 catches for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sean Irwin is the new tight end.
Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior left tackle Jeromy Irwin, junior center Alex Kelley, and senior right tackle Stephane Nembot. Both guards must be replaced though.
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After a horrific year on defense in which Colorado ranked 103rd or worse in all categories out of 128 teams, MacIntyre brought in former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt to run the defense. MacIntyre also hired former Central Michigan defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin as the safeties coach. Leavitt gets 9 starters back so the Buffs should be better but how much is in question.
Defensive ends Derek McCartney and Jimmie Gilbert are back on the line. Tackle Josh Tupou was dismissed from the team after assault charges. He has NFL potential. Samson Kafovalu returns as the other tackle after missing all of 2014 due to personal reasons. The Buffaloes added several JUCO transfers to add depth to the unit.
Veteran linebackers Addison Gillam and Kenneth Olugbode are back, but their isn’t a lot of experience behind them if something happens to either one.
Five players with starting experience return in the secondary including three cornerbacks. Kenneth Crowley is a four year starter. Safety Jered Bell was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
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Alex Kinney was one of the nation’s top recruited punters and will assume the punting duties. Kinney will also compete with junior Diego Gonzalez and walk-on Chris Graham for the kicking job. Fields will return punts and Lindsay will return kicks, but the return game was nothing special last year.
With the exception of the rivalry game against Colorado State in Denver, the non-conference schedule is tissue paper soft with a road game at Hawaii, and home home games against UMass and Nicholls State. October brings home games against Oregon and Arizona, along with road games at Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA. In November, Colorado gets Stanford and USC at home and travels to Washington State and Utah to close out the season.
The Buffaloes could go 4-0 in non-conference play, but only games against Oregon State and Washington State seem winnable in conference. Both of those games are on the road too. Let’s call it a split. Even if they beat Colorado State which is not a given by any stretch, then that still only adds up to five wins.
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