BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – The Colorado Buffaloes are counting on the past repeating itself so they can avoid ending up on the wrong side of history.
To avoid the worst record since the program’s inception in 1890, the Buffs will have to upset Utah, which was installed as a three-touchdown favorite Friday at Folsom Field.
The Utes were also a 21-point favorite a year ago when the Buffaloes ended their division title hopes with a 17-14 win at Salt Lake City to end a school-record 23-game road losing streak.
“We had nothing to lose,” senior defensive end Will Pericak said.
And this time, they have infamy to avoid.
If the Utes (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) win, the Buffaloes (1-10, 1-7) will go winless at home for the first time since 1920.
“We can’t be the only team to lose every game at home. I don’t think anybody wants that so we’re all pretty motivated,” senior tight end Nick Kasa said. “We know that they’re still motivated from last year, probably pretty angry about that. This is our rivalry game; we just have to win it.”
The Buffaloes have been outscored by an average of 46-16, and they’ve lost seven straight since their lone win, 35-34 at Washington State. During that streak, they’ve allowed an average of more than 50 points.
Last week, they hit a new low when a miscommunication from the sideline led to the Buffs running a quarterback sneak on first down that gained about a foot.
All this losing has gotten to the Buffs, who started the season with hopes of a bowl bid before losses to archrival Colorado State and lower-tier Sacramento State were followed by a 55-point defeat at Fresno State.
“Yeah, it’s really embarrassing,” junior defensive back Terrell Smith said. “It stinks to be categorized as the worst team, but there is nothing that we can do.”
“It would be tough” to go down as the first 11-loss team in school history, Pericak said.
“That would not be something we want,” he said. “It’s horrible to think about. I know for a fact that we’re getting better, so I don’t want to think about that really.”
If they’re getting better, it sure isn’t showing up on game day.
The Utes, coming off a 34-24 loss to Arizona at home last week, are also wrapping up a disappointing season.
“We wanted to have the seniors go out of their home stadium on a positive note. We didn’t get that done. We got one more opportunity to send them out on a positive note,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said.
The Buffaloes, though, are motivated by avoiding infamy.
“What I’ve been telling the guys is I don’t even want you to play for me or just play for the seniors,” said Kasa, one of just eight seniors on the Buffaloes roster. “Play for yourselves. Because we can’t be that team that never won at home. That’s just embarrassing to me and to this team. And I think everybody knows that. We’re going to go out and get this win.”
The Utes have also had a tough transition to the Pac-12 after leaving the Mountain West Conference last year, though not as difficult a road as Colorado has had since bolting the Big 12, igniting the wave of conference realignment.
“The league is much better this year than it was last year, across the board,” Whittingham said. “I can’t speak for Colorado, but for us the league is elevated. There’s no doubt about that. We’re still working hard to get to the level we need to be at.”
The Utes will gain a measure of satisfaction, though, if they can win at Boulder, where the Buffaloes have lost conference games by 28, 34, 48 and 35 points.
“Colorado in the past has been a big program just like us,” Utah wide receiver Kenneth Scott said. “They feel like they should be one of the top programs just like we feel that. But going into this game we have a chip on our shoulder knowing we should be winning, but we are making those little mistakes. … Especially coming off last year, the way they beat us, that revenge is going to be really nice.”
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
AP Sports Writer Lynn DeBruin contributed.
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