BOULDER, Colo. (The Sports Xchange) – Mike MacIntyre may be the runaway choice for national coach of the year.

Most fans wouldn’t have guessed it in August, but one of this weekend’s most significant games on the national radar was No. 22 Washington State at No. 10 Colorado, the Pac-12’s two division leaders squaring off. The teams traded the lead four times before Colorado pulled away for the 38-24 victory.

Colorado Buffaloes running back Phillip Lindsay gets past Washington State Cougars safety Jalen Thompson to score a touchdown in the first quarter at Folsom Field Nov. 19, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Colorado Buffaloes running back Phillip Lindsay gets past Washington State Cougars safety Jalen Thompson to score a touchdown in the first quarter at Folsom Field Nov. 19, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

That puts the Buffaloes at 9-2 overall and 7-1 in the Pac-12 South. They’re one win (or a USC loss) from clinching one of the most unlikely division championships in FBS history.

Consider this: Colorado had been 2-24 in conference play during the last three seasons, had never won more than two conference games since joining the Pac-12, and hadn’t registered a winning season since 2005. Now the Buffaloes are making a strong case as one of the best two-loss teams in the nation, and they just might be two wins from a College Football Playoff berth.

Credit coach Mike MacIntyre for the turnaround. In just four seasons, he has engineered a total overhaul of the program’s talent, toughness and culture.

Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes celebrates after a call was reversed giving his team a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes celebrates after a call was reversed giving his team a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

There had been glimmers of hope for the past couple of seasons, but this is a sudden and sparkling development.

Saturday’s win also highlighted the value of quarterback Sefo Liufau, who threw for 345 yards and rushed for 106 as he guided the Buffaloes past 600 total yards. Both yardage marks are season highs for the senior.

Sefo Liufau (credit: CBS)

Sefo Liufau (credit: CBS)

Even by winning out, Colorado’s record might keep it out of the playoff. Such is the way of things. It’s worth noting, though, that Liufau was injured in Colorado’s first loss at Michigan, and the injury kept him out for the vast majority of the 21-17 loss at USC. He’s fully healthy now.

Would the committee judge those losses differently if it’s time to evaluate the Buffaloes as a top four team?

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