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Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado Team News and History

The same year that Colorado became a state, Colorado created a state university. It had a whole 44 students and two faculty members when the doors in Boulder first opened.

A few years later, intercollegiate football at Colorado was born, with the inaugural game played against the Denver Athletic Club on November 15, 1890.

While the impression is that it took a long time for football to make its way west, from its origins in the east and midwest, the reality is that there are only 12 colleges playing FBS football today that predate the football program in Boulder. It’s worth noting that in the 130-plus year history of CU football, that first team was the only team to ever go winless.

Colorado Buffaloes Standings

The Colorado Buffaloes have a strong reputation in the NCAAF and are known for their tough, hard-nosed play. Their current stats show that they have a solid defense and a potent running game. In the current standings, the Buffaloes are towards the middle of the pack, but with their consistent performance, they’re a team that can surprise opponents and come out on top.

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Recent History

Colorado’s most successful team in history was in 1990 when the Buffs were a part of the Big 8 Conference, where they played from 1945 to 1995. The 1990 season wasn’t without controversy, as Colorado won a regular-season game at Missouri on a fifth downplay and then beat Notre Dame at the Orange Bowl with the aid of a questionable clipping penalty.

Still, in the final AP poll, Colorado was voted as National Champions.

Since that time CU moved to the Big 12 Conference and then the Pac-12 Conference in 2011, where the Buffs play today.

Colorado football has struggled to make the transition away from longtime rivals like Nebraska and into the less traditional games against powers like USC and Oregon, and since joining the Pac-12, the Buffs have played in just two bowl games – the Alamo Bowl in 2016 and 2020 (both losses.)

Key Players in History

The very best player in Colorado history is Rashaan Salaam, the only Buffalo to win the Heisman Trophy. In 1994 he rushed for 2,055, 24 touchdowns, and helped the Buffs to an 11-1 record and No. 3 ranking in the country.

The most notable CU football alum is Byron “Whizzer” White. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1937 and also led the CU basketball team to the finals of the very first National Invitational Tournament. But most people know Byron White as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1962 to 1993.

Two other former Buffaloes finished in the top-5 in Heisman Trophy voting. Running back Eric Bieniemy, who won a Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, was third in the Heisman vote in 1990. Darian Hagen, the quarterback of the 1990 National Championship team and current running backs coach at CU, was fifth in the Heisman vote in 1989.

Key Championships

Obviously, the biggest championship in team history was the 1990 National Championship. The Buffs have finished in the top-10 in the AP poll eight times in history, including No. 3 rankings in both 1971 and 1994. But the only time in team history that they finished on top of the poll was 1990. In the history of the program, they have finished the season ranked by the AP a total of 19 times.

In the history of Colorado football, the Buffaloes have played in six different conferences and won a total of 27 conference championships.

  • Colorado Football Association: Eight championships

  • Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference: Nine championships

  • Mountain State Conference: Four championships

  • Big 8 Conference: Five championships

  • Big 12 Conference: One championship

Colorado won the Pac-12 South division in 2016, but they lost the conference championship game to Washington.

Conference Outlook

One of the challenges that CU faces in the Pac-12 is its placement in the Pac-12 South division. That means they share a division with USC, the most decorated team in college football over the last 100 years, with a total of 17 National Championships.

Also in the division is Utah, a National Champion in 2008, Arizona State, a two-time National Champion, and UCLA, which has a National Championship in its history.

It makes for exciting football to play this many great teams annually, plus semi-annual games against traditional powers like Oregon, Washington, and Washington State, but it also makes for a very tough schedule each season.

In just over a decade of playing in the Pac-12, Colorado has only one division title and has never won the conference.

Coaching History

The most successful coach in Colorado history is Bill McCartney. Along with winning the school’s only National Championship, he also leads Colorado with 93 career wins. He was a three-time Big 8 Coach of the Year and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

The coach with the most spoken name in Colorado football history is Fred Folsom, who won 77 of the 103 games he coached at CU. The former player-coach at Dartmouth came to CU in 1895 to study law, play football, and coach the team. He ended up becoming a mainstay in Boulder and was a leader at the university until his death in 1944. It was the same year that Colorado Stadium would change its name to Folsom Field.

The two other CU coaches to win their conference Coach of the Year Awards were Gary Barnett (Big 12 in 2001 and 2004) and Mike McIntyre (Pac-12 in 2016).


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Colorado Buffaloes FAQ’s

Who are the Buffs’ biggest rivals?

The Buffs play an annual game against Colorado State called the Rocky Mountain Showdown. They also play an annual game against Utah called Rumble in the Rockies.

Where does Colorado play its home games?

Colorado plays in an on-campus stadium called Folsom Field. At 5.360 feet above sea level, it is the third highest stadium in the FBS.

How many National Championships has Colorado won?

One, in 1990.

Who is the most famous Colorado football alum?

Byron White was a Heisman runner-up in 1937 and led the nation that year in rushing and total offense. In the NFL, he was twice a rushing champion. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and he was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court for 31 years.

What is the Colorado football mascot?

Colorado has been the Buffaloes since 1934, and a live buffalo named Ralphie has been on the sideline for every home game since 1966.

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