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Woody Paige: Colorado Buffaloes can make Rose Bowl or better

November 6, 2016 Updated: November 7, 2016 at 9:43 am
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Colorado mascot Chip holds the Centennial Cup after Colorado defeated Colorado State 44-7 in an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, in Boulder, Colo. (Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera via AP)

Ethel Merman would want to warble that "Everything's coming up Roses for CU.''

From 1937 to 2007 the Colorado Buffaloes played in 28 bowls featuring oranges, cotton and alligators, and liberty, freedom and independence. Remember the Alamo?

But the Buffs' bowls never-ever included the granddaddy of them all. They couldn't even aspire to the Rose Bowl for 99 years. They weren't good enough, then weren't in the correct conference. When they were invited to join the Pac-10 in 2011, they were in the right conference, but had the wrong team. From 2008-2015, CU averaged 3.4 victories per season and couldn't qualify for any fruit, animal, vegetable, mineral or flower bowl.

Looky here.

Colorado no longer is a Buffalo chip.

The hooves of the herd are being heard.

In the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2016, the Buffs were - are y'all ready for this? - No. 15.

And then they beat UCLA on Thursday night. In the next ranking the Buffs probably will be 12th or 13th.

If they can beat woeful Arizona on the road, Washington State (No. 25 in the rankings) and Utah (16) on Thanksgiving weekend to close out the regular season, while some of the highly ranked teams lose to other highly ranked teams, the Buffs definitely would be in the top 10.

And they would probably play Washington in the Pac-12 Championship.

Guess when and where the game is? Dec. 2 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Guess who won a game there in February. The Broncos.

Two championship for Colorado football teams in the same stadium in the same year?!

Unfathomable?

But it could happen. What were the odds a year ago in November? Even a month ago?

Could The Impossible Dream - sing it, Richard Kiley - occur, and the Buffs even make the final four playoffs for the national championship?

Go ahead and laugh your Eeyore off.

In 1990, after the Buffs had begun with the season with a 1-1-1 record, I wrote a column suggesting a scenario that would allow Colorado to win the national championship. It required multiple worlds colliding, a perfect storm and CU going undefeated the rest of season. I did not predict a fifth-down victory at Missouri, convincing victories over Oklahoma and at No. 3 Nebraska and a late touchdown punt return by Rocket Ismail being called back on a mysterious penalty, all of which made the Buffs co-national champions.

BTW, the Buffaloes triumphed over No. 12 and then unbeaten Washington that year.

Hmmm.

Oddly enough, Buffaloes Backers should become Washington Well-Wishers. What?

If the Huskies and the Buffs do not lose, they will play for the Pac-12 title.

If the Buffs were somehow able to whip Washington, they might, even with two losses, reached the final four. It would require 1990 kind of strangeness among the Clemsons and Michigans of college football.

If the Huskies beat the Buff and advance to the national playoffs, Colorado, as conference runner-up, would go to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Swell consolation prize for a school that won four conference games in five Pac-12 seasons.

And this is Big Mac II.

Bill McCartney won eight Big 12 games in his first four seasons in Boulder. Mike McIntyre has won seven Pac-12 Conference games into his fourth season. The first Mac went to nine bowls (and won the national championship) in 13 seasons. The Buffs under the second Mac should be so fortunate.

This Mac deserves a long-term extension from athletic director Rick George now, before McIntyre takes a job in the SEC. George, who didn't hire Mike, was ready to get rid of the coach. There's something to be said about a clean program, a coach willing to change assistants and upgrade his recruiting - and his quarterbacks in a quarterback league.

Jim Leavitt, the former successful South Florida coach, was hired to run the defense last season. He has been exceptional. Darrin Chiaverini, who was a four-year wide receiver and team captain in 1998 for the Buffs, was a world-class addition by McIntyre this year in dual roles - co-offensive coordinator and head recruiter. Leavitt and Chiaverini will be head coaches somewhere if not in Boulder.

And a Rose is a Bowl is the Buffs - if they can get past the Cougars and the Utes.

Otherwise, think Foster Farms Corn Dog Bowl.

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