I have something to confess. I am a Boulderite. I grew up in Boulder, my parents still live there, and I still consider it home (Sorry Kayla). I’ve been to at least one Colorado football game a year for as long as I can remember. This year, I was lucky enough to make it to homecoming against Arizona State this weekend. I wrote everything down that I noticed, as well as everything the city is doing to embrace the new look Buffaloes.
On Thursday night I flew out of Dallas. To say anyone was thinking about the Buffs on the plane would be a lie. The Broncos were playing, and half the plane was using the wifi to watch the Broncos lose. As we landed in Denver, I put on my CU hat, and headed for the exit. I said “thank you” to the pilot, and he responded “Go Buffs!” I should have known at this point that a good weekend was on the horizon.
On Friday morning I rode my bike to Moe’s Bagels, and what did I hear? Talk about the game, a buzz about Colorado football. As the sun set on Friday, I went down to Pearl Street to eat dinner before heading over to the Buff Stampede. The Stampede consists of the football team, cheerleaders, band, and this weekend the homecoming parade walking down the historic Pearl Street Mall. The mall was packed, and not with the usual Friday night crowd, but people wearing black and gold waiting to cheer on the Buffs. I watched as the players walked by, interacted with fans, and the cheerleaders threw mini footballs to the kids. There was one player bringing up the rear, lingering behind the team and even the cheerleaders. Sefo Liufau. I watched as the heart and soul of this Colorado team slowly walk down the street, surveying the cheering crowd. As I watched, I saw the hint of a small smirk creep onto his face. When I got home, I wrote, “Sefo Alone- Calm before the storm? Taking it all in?” At this point, we still didn’t know if he would start Saturday’s game or not. Maybe it was just a little foreshadowing of what was to come.
On Saturday morning it was time for another bike ride on the Boulder Creek Path. The closer I rode to Folsom Field, the more I heard it, people saying “Go Buffs” to each other as they passed by. As I made my way up to the stadium two hours before game time, there was a different feel, a feeling of excitement. As the game started, I looked around the entire stadium, and let me tell you, most of the stadium was full. The student section was packed, the rooftop deck was slammed with people, and the roar when the famous words “Here Comes Ralphie!” reminded me of the early 2000’s, when Colorado was competing for Big 12 Championships. Colorado got a huge stop to start the game, and Sefo Liufau took the field. A guy who’s been hugely underappreciated the last four years got a standing ovation from the biggest crowd at Folsom Field since 2011. The Buffaloes stampeded the Sun Devils 40-16, and the students poured onto the field to celebrate with the players. In the post game interview, Liufau thanked the fans who stuck with the team, as the fans behind him chanted “PAC-12 Champs!” Coach McIntyre in his post game press conference was asked about the students on the field, and he explained that he wanted the students to enjoy the moment. After rushing for a career high 219 yards, running back Phillip Lindsay brought the entire offensive line into the press conference as a thank you for the huge game.
As I walked through the airport tonight to head home, I sported a shirt that simply says “#TheRise” with the Colorado logo on it. This time, instead of just wearing the shirt because I’m a fan, I wear it with pride. For those of you fans who still don’t think The Rise is Real, it’s time to accept it. The Rise is here, the Buffaloes are roaming, and the rest of the PAC-12 is officially on notice.