Colorado ranked but still acting like overlooked underdog
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Colorado is the last unbeaten team in the Pac-12 Conference, cracking The Associated Press Top 25 poll this week at No. 21.
“Shh! You gotta keep that real quiet,” Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez implored. “Only the people in this (interview) room know we’re ranked. We have no idea. We don’t know.”
The Buffaloes (4-0, 1-0) host Arizona State (3-2, 1-0) Saturday with the chance to prove their best start in 20 years isn’t a product of an early-season schedule that turned softer than anyone imagined.
The Sun Devils have held their own against two ranked teams, so it makes sense for the Buffaloes not to get caught up in their success and continue instead to act like overlooked underdogs.
“We’re going to play it just like that,” Montez said. “We’re going to act like we’re not ranked and just keep putting in the same work we have been putting in. I mean right now there’s no point in getting complacent with a ranking from the AP poll.
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t get us to our end goals. We’re just going to keep working like we have all season and hopefully try to stay off social media and whatnot.”
There’s no ignoring Colorado’s first 4-0 start since 1998 , though.
The last time they were the last unblemished team standing in a conference was way back in 1989 after beating Nebraska in a battle of 8-0 teams in the old Big 8.
Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre likes the silent treatment his quarterback suggested over the team’s ranking.
“I haven’t said anything to the team about it and not one of the players has said anything to me about it,” MacIntyre said. “That’s a great thing for everybody, but we know that if we just take care of our next game and our next game then we’ll keep moving up and we’ll be able to do the things we want to. If we lose a couple of games, we’ll be out of all that.”
Other subplots when the Buffaloes host the Sun Devils on Saturday:
BOASTING BUFFS: There’s one place the Buffaloes’ ranking won’t be ignored and that’s in the homes of high school recruits.
“It is good for recruiting, I will say that, because those kids look at that,” MacIntyre said. “But as far as this team and what we’re doing, not one of us, not any of the coaches or anyone, has said one word about it. I’m glad none of the players has said anything to me about it.
“They know what we have ahead of us. We have bigger aspirations than just being ranked. Hopefully, we can get there.”
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: The Buffaloes haven’t exactly been beating the best. Their opponents’ collective record is 1-16, and that one win was Colorado State’s stunner over Arkansas — which is 1-4. Nebraska, New Hampshire and UCLA are all winless.
The Sun Devils won their first two games under new coach Herm Edwards, lost two tight road games and then ran past Oregon State last week. They’re 1-1 against ranked teams, beating then-No. 15 Michigan State 16-13 and losing 27-20 to No. 10 Washington.
GROUND GAME: Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin set the school’s single-game rushing record last week when he rumbled for 312 yards in the Sun Devils’ 52-24 win over Oregon State .
That broke the 45-year-old record of 250 yards set by Ben Malone against Oregon State in 1973.
“Benjamin is an excellent runner,” MacIntyre said. “They ran the ball for what seemed like 1,000 yards, watching the film against OSU. A lot of the runs he just made people miss. They did an excellent job of blocking, but when he would get to the second level he would spin and make them miss.
“And he has great speed and he’s an excellent, excellent player. We’re going to have to tackle him well.”