AIR FORCE ACADEMY — Dear Mrs. Calhoun: the Falcons politely request your now-famous mac ’n cheese if CU ever returns to Air Force in the next half-century. Pretty please.
“Yes, sir,” burly fullback Brad Roberts said with a grin after his Falcons poured it on the CU Buffs 41-10 in pouring rain at Falcon Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Let’s see. Was it the coach’s wife who had the most fun during a rare CU week at the academy? Amanda Calhoun cooked up the good stuff when Roberts and the other fullbacks came through Casa de Calhoun for a midweek feast. Or was it her husband, Troy Calhoun, who has never looked more relaxed in a postgame press conference, win or lose, cracking one-liners and kicking back when he almost always stands.
"Amanda made the biggest batch of macaroni and cheese," Coach Calhoun said. "She said, 'Hey if this doesn't work it was all that extra cheese and all that good stuff.'"
And the haters say Calhoun can’t cut loose, or that triple-option business couldn’t hang in the PAC-12.
“That was a little bit of a crazy game,” Calhoun added right as loud cheers erupted in the Air Force locker room across the hall.
“They don’t seem too disappointed,” he added.
OK, now that my own fingers are thawed out, here’s who had the most fun when CU-Boulder slummed it down at Falcon Stadium for the first time in 48 years: the Falcons who grew up in Colorado who weren’t recruited by the Buffs.
“They were one of my teams (as a kid),” said Roberts, a Ralston Valley grad who had 174 rushing yards and tied a career-high with three touchdowns in a rare shot to beat CU, where many of his high school buds attend school. “I went to a few games (at Folsom Field). It was tough to not be able to get an offer from them. But I’m happy where I am now.”
Boy, I’d say so. The cadet wing danced in unison to Miley Cyrus and “Party in the USA,” and there’s no party like a college football party when the Mountain West kid brothers drop the hammer on the PAC-12 big boys.
CU hadn’t played at Air Force since 1974. Best of luck to Air Force AD Nathan Pine in trying to lure CU back in the next 48 years. In a series that began in 1958 — with a 45-year gap in the middle, due to bad blood around the Vietnam War and its protests — the Falcons own a win streak over the Buffs for the first time. Air Force went up to Boulder in 2019 and won, too.
Rain? What rain? What began as a drizzle grew into an Air Force downpour. All that was missing for the home team was the glorious flyover that was scratched due to the weather: “The ceiling is too low," I was told. For the 0-2 Buffs staring down a trip to Minnesota and the Big Ten next week, the floor is going lower. I don’t think they’ve hit it yet.
The Falcons fumbled five times and won by 31 points. If not for their butterfingers, a 20-0 lead in the first half would’ve made this one ugly — and truly forgettable, if you’re one of the loyal Buffs fans who stuck around in soaked clothes until the final horn and everyone still left was allowed to go home. Good on you folks.
After singing the “Third Verse” with their classmates, Air Force players hustled into the tunnel as if they were ready to fight another round. CU’s contingent looked more like they didn’t know what had hit them.
Well, here’s the reminder: Jayden Goodwin, the Air Force defensive back who shut down any glimmer of a potential comeback when he smashed into CU running back Alex Fontenot and forced a fumble at the goal line.
“He had his back turned to me,” Goodwin said. “In that situation I’ve got to punish him.”
PAC-12? Big 12? The great debate of CU’s future conference affiliation is missing a rather glaring point. It should be, Which Power Five extends an invitation to Air Force? Air Force has won four straight against Power Five programs: CU, Washington State, Louisville and CU again. The Falcons are 26-6 over the last three full seasons, and a bunch of proud alums are beaming with braggin’ rights when they hear how Coach Calhoun planned to celebrate a meaningful win.
“Nobody’s going to be happy tomorrow," Calhoun said. "We’re going to back squat (in the weightroom) and we’re going to practice on a Sunday.”
How Air Force is that? Also very Air Force was pounding out 443 rushing yards in conditions fit for trout, and the 11 “yes, sirs” I counted in the postgame press conference.
When quarterback Haaziq Daniels finally took a peek over the stat sheet, his eyes grew wide like he’d seen a ghost. What was the surprise? The five fumbles, three of them lost, he said.
“But I also saw we scored 41 (points), so…” Daniels said.
The Falcons invited the Buffs into their house and went back for seconds and thirds.