Colorado hosts Oregon State fresh off big win at Oregon
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) The Colorado Buffaloes were greeted by a swarm of fans upon their early morning return last weekend.
That sort of welcoming brigade hasn't happened often in recent memory. Neither have wins of this magnitude.
The new and improved Buffaloes (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) stunned Oregon 41-38 in Eugene behind the performance of freshman quarterback Steven Montez. They try to follow it up Saturday as an 18 1/2-point favorite against Oregon State (1-2).
As for a possible hangover effect, well, Colorado insisted the page has been turned. This is a team on the cusp of appearing in the AP Top 25 poll and trying to make a bowl appearance for the first time since 2007.
''Our goal every week is to go 1-0 and our ultimate goal is to be Pac-12 champions,'' cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said. ''In the grand scheme of things, it definitely helps that and we were happy after the win. But now we're just trying to focus in on Oregon State and keep this train rolling.''
Everyone around campus appears on board, because the looks are way friendlier these days. The conversations, too.
''We sense a lot more trust among people and they trust us to come out with wins this time around,'' receiver Bryce Bobo said.
The schedule certainly doesn't get any easier with the remaining teams after Saturday a combined 17-9. There's also this: Colorado hasn't exactly followed up big wins with a string of more big wins.
The Buffaloes knocked off a ranked West Virginia squad in 2008, only to go 2-7 the rest of the way. They beat Georgia in 2010, but followed it up by going 2-6 during a season in which then-coach Dan Hawkins lost his job.
''Being in all those close games has definitely helped us build to where we are now,'' Awuzie said. ''We've gone through so much adversity that I feel as though, whatever comes at us, we'll be ready.''
Beavers coach Gary Andersen appreciates what the Buffaloes have accomplished under coach Mike MacIntyre, who's in his fourth season at Colorado. Andersen is trying to revitalize the program in Corvallis.
''They've continued to recruit and battle like crazy and fight in games and get better and better,'' Andersen said. ''And now they're starting to see those W's come their way.''
Things to know as Oregon State and Colorado meet for a ninth time (the Beavers lead 5-3):
DECISIONS, DECISIONS: MacIntyre has quite a QB quandary - go with senior captain Sefo Liufau on a hurt ankle or the freshman Montez who has the hot hand. Montez accounted for 468 yards of total offense in the win over the Ducks. Liufau has broken virtually every school passing mark during his time at Colorado. ''We need both of them, because somebody's going to get dinged up,'' MacIntyre said. ''We need both of those guys ready to play.''
HEAVYWEIGHTS: The Buffaloes feel like they've earned the right to climb into the ring with the heavyweights again. ''We used to be a welterweight. I think we stepped up to at least being able to spar with the heavyweights,'' MacIntyre said. ''The more games we win, we'll see if we're a heavyweight.''
FAST START: The Buffaloes have scored on their opening possession in every game this season. For good measure, they've also gotten points in three of their four opening drives in the second half. ''They've built themselves a very good football team,'' Andersen said. ''They've ground through the process without question. They're playing well.''
BOLDEN ADVENTURE: Oregon State's Victor Bolden Jr. leads the nation with a 40.2-yard average on kickoff returns. What's more, he has two plays covering 90 or more yards - one on a 92-yard sweep against Idaho State and another on a 99-yard kickoff return last weekend against Boise State . Bolden hurt Colorado last season with four returns for 110 yards. ''He's a huge difference-maker,'' Andersen said. ''Victor is having a nice year for us at this point.''
MORE OFFENSIVE: The Beavers are averaging 28 points in three games, which is up from a season ago. They're allowing 25 points - also an improvement. ''They are a much-improved football team from last year when we played them,'' said MacIntyre, whose team beat the Beavers 17-13 last season in Corvallis to end a 14-game conference skid.
AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson contributed.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org