When Mike MacIntyre arrived at Colorado in December 2012, he inherited a team coming off a 1-11 season. In his first year, in 2013, he played Oregon in Eugene.
It got ugly.
Marcus Mariota accounted for seven touchdowns (five pass, two rush), as Oregon scored 57 points – through three quarters. The Ducks then called off dogs and won by 41.
“Oregon was ranked No. 1 America and they were eating everybody by 50 points,” MacIntyre said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show.
In 2014, Colorado “limited” Oregon to 44 in a 44-10 loss. In 2015, it was 41-24. Closer. More respectable.
But then 2016 happened. Yes, Colorado beat Oregon in Eugene, 41-38, on Sept. 24.
“For us to be able to do that with (that) same group of young men that have all been on that field and against them and saw them – which was really nice by them to take a knee and not beat us by 70 – (it) was really rewarding to see them do that,” MacIntyre said. “I’m serious. I was thanking (Oregon) for being nice to us (in 2013). We couldn’t play with them and now that we could actually play with them and beat them, for those same young men to see them understand the hard work and dedication and sacrifice really does make a difference – it was not only great for them in football, but for me, it was a great life lesson that I taught them in life. Not everything is over when everybody else says it’s over. You just keep believing in yourself and you keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll end up succeeding. That’s what they did. That’s why that was such a big win for us as a team.”
Colorado, which went 10-27 from 2013-15, is 4-2 this year. The Buffaloes haven’t won five games since 2010, they haven’t won six games since 2007, and they haven’t won seven games since 2005.
Well, this year has been – and could be – different.
In September, Colorado led Michigan 21-7 in the second quarter – in Ann Arbor, no less – before ultimately losing 45-28. It was a loss, yes, but the fact that Colorado put a scare into the Wolverines? That wouldn’t have happened in years past.
MacIntyre wasn’t surprised.
“I felt like we could win some games in previous years and I thought we’d have a chance to go to a bowl game in previous years, but I felt like this year we actually had a chance to actually compete for the Pac-12 championship,” he said. “I thought out team was going to be that good and if we stayed healthy – we’ve stayed relatively healthy – but I knew we had enough depth to overcome those. I just felt coming in that we would have a chance to compete for the Pac 12 championship.”
Colorado, which is currently in a three-way tie with Arizona State (5-1) and No. 21 Utah (5-1) for first place in the Pac 12-South, hosts the Sun Devils this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.