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Friday, October 1, 2010

Behind enemy lines: Colorado edition

Two facts I did not know about Boulder, Colo.: It is not only home to the University of Colorado, but Naropa University, one of only two accredited Buddhist universities in the U.S. And starting in 1998 some citizens have taken part in a naked Pumpkin run on Halloween, which is exactly what it sounds like. But police started cracking down on it last year.

Two facts I did not know about Colorado's football team: It's looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2008, and Saturday night it will host an SEC team for the first time since 1979. (When it beat LSU.

For more on the team and the atmosphere, we go to Tom Kensler, who covers the Buffaloes for the Denver Post.

First off, the important question: For Georgia fans in the Boulder-Denver area for the game, where are some good places to eat, and are there any other places you'd suggest they stop by?

Kensler: For those staying in or near Boulder, the best bet, and easiest thing to do is to go to Boulder's Pearl Street Mall. It's regarded as one of the nation's best pedestrian malls. Plenty of good restaurants and shops. And interesting characters.

If staying near or in the city of Denver, the downtown is one of the nation's most vibrant --and safe. The Lodo area (Lower Downtown) is teeming with activity - bars, restaurants, clubs.

For those who have a rental car and want to explore the mountains but don't have much time, drive west on I-70 to the town of Idaho Springs. It's only about a 30-45 minute drive, but retains the flavor of an old western mining town, great shops. Eat at the Buffalo Bar (which is really a restaurant). Try a buffalo burger if you never have. It just tastes like the best hamburger.

Another suggestion: take Coors Brewery Tour in Golden, which is a western suburb of Denver. The town is quaint too. Where ever you go, sample the microbrew beers. The Denver area vies with Portland, Ore., as the nation's top location for brewpubs.

Most fans around here remember Colorado from the glory years of Bill McCartney (who will be in the stadium Saturday). Obviously the program has fallen on harder times, but how has that affected the fan base? Where is Colorado football in the pecking order of sports interest in the state?

Kensler: Even when Colorado has won, the relatively small stadium isn't guaranteed to be a sellout. Colorado faces challenges that no other Big 12 school does in athletics -- it's in the shadow of a pro town (People in Boulder don't like to admit it, but Boulder is part of suburban Denver). So at best, CU football ranks well below the Broncos (huge No. 1 in interest) and the Colorado Rockies, and sometimes below the Nuggets and Avs. That's one reason why CU will fit better in the Pac-10, where many of its members are in pro towns.

How much do people in your area know about Georgia football, and the SEC? How would they tend to view each?

Kensler: Probably not a lot, other than the die-hard college football fans who watch everything on TV at sports bars. The SEC is a long way from here. And, frankly, newspapers don't have enough space and TV and radio don't have enough air time to talk much about other conferences, although some sports talk guys really like college sports and emphasize that more than others.

It's probably no different than if you ask somebody in Georgia about CU. You tend to mostly follow your conference. But people here are well aware that UGA has a long tradition and that it has top-level athletes, even if the record thus far does not reflect that. As for the SEC, I think most everybody believes it is the top conference for football.

OK, a question about the actual game: Colorado has run the ball a lot the first three games. Is that the kind of approach that should carry into this game?

Kensler: Not sure about that. In two of the three games, CU has thrown the ball for more yards than it has run. Coach Dan Hawkins strives for balance. But, yes, Colorado probably wouldn't mind controlling the clock some with its running attack because CU typically can't keep up in a scoreboard shootout. But I'm not sure the Buffs can control the line of scrimmage enough to emphasize the run. They'll have to take some shots downfield.

Is Colorado the team that got rolled by California, and struggled in the first half against Hawaii? Or is the one that recovered to rout Hawaii, and beat Colorado State soundly?

Kensler: Hawaii is a decent team -- some of the preseason magazines picked the Warriors to be the second- or third-best team in the WAC behind Boise State. So the second half explosion was impressive. But the Buffs were overwhelmed by Cal, and Georgia has at least as much athleticism and size as the Bears, so this will be a big test.

Finally, which player or two (or three) should worry Georgia?

Kensler: Wide receivers Toney Clemons (transfer from Michigan) and Travon Patterson (Southern Cal) have sprinter's speed. Can't let them get behind the secondary. Quarterback Tyler Hansen can move out the pocket and go. He surprises teams with his foot speed. Defensively, linebacker B.J. Beatty and cornerback Jalil Brown are playmakers.


Anonymous said...

As far as tailgating...Boulder has a mini version of downtown Athens literally right off campus. It is eerily similar as far as people, restaurants, shops and bars go. Well maybe more hippepies. Also, try Estes Park which is a 45 min to 1 hour drive outside of town to visit the Rockies and the haunted Stanley Hotel,the place where stephen King wrote the Shining. Go Dawgs!

Anonymous said...

Well its another embarrassing day about to unfold. Today will be more proof in the pudding that UGA football has fallen on hard times. Prima donna's, Thugs and wimps who cant run block out of a wet paper bag. A coaching staff full of goons too.