Utah, Colorado struggling after move to Pac-12

Utah left the Mountain West Conference behind, hoping a switch

to the Pac-12 would give the program a chance to move beyond its

BCS-buster status.

Colorado left behind the Big 12, figuring the style of the West

Coast conference would be a better fit.

So far, it hasn’t gone well.

Nearing the midpoint of their first season in the Pac-12, the

Buffaloes and Utes are both winless in the reconfigured conference

and searching for answers that may take a while to find.

”We’re off, but it’s just a little bit,” Utah coach Kyle

Whittingham said Tuesday. ”Everyone in this conference is a little

bit bigger, a little bit fast and a little bit stronger than the

previous conference we were in.”

The size and speed isn’t much of a change for Colorado.

In the Big 12, the Buffaloes faced mammoth linemen, gun-slinging

quarterbacks and talented skill players pretty much every week. Of

course, Colorado didn’t exactly fare well against those teams.

Since 2006, when Dan Hawkins took over as head coach, the Buffaloes

have failed to reach a winning record; the best they could do was a

6-7 finish in 2007.

It hasn’t gotten a whole lot better for Colorado in its first

season in a new conference and under coach Jon Embree.

The Buffaloes are just 1-5, their only win over rival Colorado

State of the Mountain West. Colorado still hasn’t won a road game,

extending its away-from-Boulder skid to a school-record 19 games,

and has yet to beat a team in its new league.

The Buffaloes had a chance to beat California in the second game

of the season – a previously scheduled nonconference game – before

falling 36-33 in overtime and followed that by blowing a 10-point

lead in the final 3 minutes in a loss to Washington State. Colorado

never stood a chance in its latest game, a 48-7 blowout at No. 7

Stanford on Saturday that had Embree chewing the team out.

The Buffaloes are 11th in the Pac-12 in total offense, middle of

the pack on defense and trying to find a way not to get

discouraged.

”I feel like they’re dealing with it well,” Embree said.

”It’s still important to them to play and try to win, and it’s

still important to them to compete and try to find a way to try and

build what we’re trying to do here.”

The original BCS buster, Utah, was supposed to be one of the

three teams to beat in the Pac-12 South, with Arizona State and

USC. Instead, the Utes are just above Arizona at the bottom of the

division, 2-3 overall and winless in three conference games.

Utah has the conference’s worst offense in terms of total yards,

which doesn’t figure to get much better with quarterback Jordan

Wynn out for the season because of a shoulder injury. The Utes also

have had trouble holding onto the ball, turning it over 10 times

the past two games and a Pac-12-high 13 overall.

Utah had kept games close early in the season but may have had

its worst game last Saturday, turning it over five times as No. 22

Arizona State turned a close game into a rout. The Utes, on the

heels of their first three-game conference losing streak since

2002, held a players-only meeting after the loss to the Sun Devils

in an effort to get themselves straightened out.

”It’s not a time to panic or feel sorry for yourself,” Utah

offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said. ”It’s one of those things

where you dug yourself into a hole and got to dig yourself out.

It’s something that’s just going to require more work and attention

to detail.”

Colorado needs to do the same thing or it’s going to be an even

longer season for the Pac-12’s two newest teams.

AP Sports Writer Lynn DeBruin in Salt Lake City contributed to

this story.