Bowl eligibility might be just the beginning for Colorado

Colorado football fans won't have December off this year.

The Buffalos won their sixth game of the season, Saturday, beating Stanford — make that once-mighty Stanford — 10-5 in a slug-it-out matchup in the Silicon Valley.

The sixth win means bowl eligibility for Colorado for the first time since 2007.

That's an incredible accomplishment for Mike MacIntyre and the Buffs — one certainly worthy of celebration.

But the vaunted six-win threshold isn't the finish line for the Buffaloes — it's just a checkpoint.

Colorado sits atop the Pac-12 South standings at 6-2 on the season, and they should be favorites in the remainder of their games.

The Buffs have proven they can score, and they've proven they can play high-level defense, and while Colorado isn't going to be a playoff team — their loss at Michigan proved that — the Buffs could well be looking down the pipe at a 10-win season and a berth in the Pac-12 title game.

That kind of season might result in roses.

The Buffs have never played in the Rose Bowl Game, but if they remain on course, they should be playing in Pasadena on New Year's Day, especially if they play an undefeated Washington in the Pac-12 title game.

Win the conference, and Colorado is automatically in the Rose Bowl — lose to an undefeated Washington and they should still get in (as the Huskies would go to the College Football Playoff.)

Heading into the season, MacIntyre was on the hot seat, and it was fair. The Buffs were 4-8, 2-10 and 4-9 in his first three years in Boulder, having won only two Pac-12 games. But MacIntyre made some changes to the coaching staff — most notably bringing in former USF coach Jim Leavitt as defensive coordinator — and trusted his recruits would make a big leap in year four of the program.

The patience paid off, just as it did for MacIntyre in his previous job, at San Jose State, where he took over a 2-10 program and turned it into a 10-2, Top-25 team in three years.

In college football, patience is a rare commodity, but it's already paid off in Boulder.

And the biggest payday might be yet to come.