|Colorado Buffaloes football|
|Athletic director||Rick George|
|Head coach||Karl Dorrell |
1st season, 4-2 (.667)
|Field surface||Natural Grass|
|NCAA division||Division I FBS|
|Past conferences||Independent (1890-1892)|
Big Eight (1948-1995)
Big 12 (1996-2010)
|Bowl record||12–17 (.414)|
|Claimed national titles||1 (1990)|
|Division titles||5 (4 Big 12 North)|
(1 Pac-12 South)
Colorado State (rivalry)
|Consensus All-Americans||30 (5 unanimous)|
|Colors||Silver, black, and gold|
|Fight song||Fight CU|
|Marching band||Golden Buffalo Marching Band|
The Colorado Buffaloes football program represents the University of Colorado Boulder in college football at the NCAA Division I FBS level. The team is a member of the Pac-12 Conference, having previously been a charter member of the Big 12 Conference. Before joining the Big 12, they were members of the Big Eight Conference. The CU football team has played at Folsom Field since 1924. The Buffs all-time record is 714-517-36 (.578 winning percentage) as of the end of the 2020 season. Colorado won a National Championship in 1990. The football program is 26th on the all-time win list and 37th in all-time winning percentage.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2017)
Beginning in 1890, Colorado football has enjoyed much success throughout its more than 135 years of competitive play.
Folsom Field was built in 1924, and since then, Colorado has a 308-169-14 record at home through the 2016 season. The road game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 24, 2006 was Colorado's 1,100th football game. The game on September 12, 2015 against Massachusetts was the school's 1,200th football game.
|Season||Coach||Selectors||Record||Bowl||Result||Final AP||Final Coaches|
|1990||AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Matthews, NCF, NFF, Sporting News, USA/CNN||11-1-1||Orange||No. 1||No. 2|
Colorado won the national championship in 1990 under the direction of head coach Bill McCartney, who helmed the team from 1982 to 1994. The national title was split with Georgia Tech who won the United Press International Coaches Poll, whereas Colorado won the Associated Press and Football Writers Association of America polls. The largest arguments against Colorado were that they had a loss and a tie, whereas Georgia Tech had a tie and no losses, and Colorado's "unfair" win in the Fifth Down Game against Missouri. Another major controversy was a Colorado's Orange Bowl win over Notre Dame, which Colorado won in part because of a controversial clipping call that brought back a Notre Dame touchdown. The major argument for Colorado was that they played a more difficult schedule than Georgia Tech. Colorado capped the season with a 10-9 win over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, a rematch of the 1989 season Orange Bowl Game which Notre Dame won 21-6. Colorado's tie came against Tennessee, who was ranked No. 8, the first week of the season when Colorado was ranked No. 5. The second week gave the Buffs a scare, scoring with 12 seconds left in the game on a 4th and Goal attempt. The next week gave Colorado its only loss of the season, losing 23-22 to Illinois and dropping Colorado to No. 20 in the polls. Colorado then went on to beat teams ranked (at the time) No. 22 Texas, No. 12 Washington, No. 22 Oklahoma, and No. 3 Nebraska. They ended the season 7-0 in the Big Eight Conference for the second straight season. They then capped the season with a win over Notre Dame who were number 1 until a loss in their second to last game of the regular season.
Colorado has won 27 conference championships in over a century of college play, spanning through five conferences.
|Year||Conference||Coach||Overall record||Conference record|
|1894||Colorado Football Association||Harry Heller||8-1||5-0|
|1895||Colorado Football Association||Fred Folsom||5-1||3-0|
|1896||Colorado Football Association||Fred Folsom||5-0||2-0|
|1897||Colorado Football Association||Fred Folsom||7-1||2-0|
|1901||Colorado Football Association||Fred Folsom||5-1-1||2-0|
|1902||Colorado Football Association||Fred Folsom||5-1||4-0|
|1903||Colorado Football Association||Dave Cropp||8-2||4-0|
|1908+||Colorado Football Association||Fred Folsom||5-2||3-1|
|1909||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Fred Folsom||6-0||3-0|
|1910||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Fred Folsom||6-0||3-0|
|1911||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Fred Folsom||6-0||4-0|
|1913||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Fred Folsom||5-1-1||3-0-1|
|1923||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Myron E. Witham||9-0||7-0|
|1924||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Myron E. Witham||8-1-1||5-0-1|
|1934||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Bill Saunders||6-1-2||6-1|
|1935||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Bunny Oakes||5-4||5-1|
|1937||Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference||Bunny Oakes||8-1||7-0|
|1939||Mountain States Conference||Bunny Oakes||5-3||5-1|
|1942||Mountain States Conference||James J. Yeager||7-2||5-1|
|1943||Mountain States Conference||James J. Yeager||5-2||2-0|
|1944||Mountain States Conference||Frank Potts||6-2||2-0|
|1961||Big Eight Conference||Sonny Grandelius||9-2||7-0|
|1976+||Big Eight Conference||Bill Mallory||8-4||5-2|
|1989||Big Eight Conference||Bill McCartney||11-1||7-0|
|1990||Big Eight Conference||Bill McCartney||11-1-1||7-0|
|1991+||Big Eight Conference||Bill McCartney||8-3-1||6-0-1|
|2001||Big 12 Conference||Gary Barnett||10-3||7-1|
|2001+||Big 12 North||Gary Barnett||Texas||W 39-37|
|2002||Big 12 North||Gary Barnett||Oklahoma||L 7-29|
|2004+||Big 12 North||Gary Barnett||Oklahoma||L 3-42|
|2005||Big 12 North||Gary Barnett||Texas||L 3-70|
|2016||Pac-12 South||Mike MacIntyre||Washington||L 10-41|
The Buffaloes have played in 1,109 games during their 125 seasons, through 2014. In those seasons, 11 coaches have led Colorado to postseason bowl games: Bunny Oakes, Dallas Ward, Bud Davis, Eddie Crowder, Bill Mallory, Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett, Dan Hawkins, Mike MacIntyre and Karl Dorrell. Ten coaches have won conference championships with the Buffaloes: Fred Folsom, Myron Witham, William Saunders, Oakes, Jim Yeager, Sonny Grandelius, Mallory, McCartney and Barnett. The Buffaloes won the national championship in 1990, and have won a total of 28 conference championships.
McCartney is the all-time leader in games coached with 153, total wins with 93, and conference wins with 58. Folsom had the longest tenure as head coach, remaining in the position for 15 seasons. Harry Heller and Willis Keinholtz are tied for the highest overall winning percentage. Each served a single season and won eight of his nine games for a winning percentage of .889. Of coaches who served more than one season, Folsom leads with a .765 winning percentage. Davis, in terms of overall winning percentage, is the worst coach the Buffaloes have had with a .200 winning percentage. No Colorado coach has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, although McCartney was inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame in 1996.
Mike MacIntyre had brief success with the program. Hired on Dec. 10, 2012, MacIntyre compiled a 30-44 record over five-plus seasons at Colorado. In 2016, MacIntyre lead Colorado to a 10-2 regular season and a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game. It was the first winning season for Colorado since 2005, ending a 10-year streak of finishing below .500. 2016 was also the best season for the Buffaloes since 2001. As well, it marked their first time playing in a conference championship game since the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game. The team also went 8-2 in the Pac-12 after having five conference wins in the previous five seasons. Mike MacIntyre was named the Walter Camp 2016 Coach of the Year by the Walter Camp Foundation, the second Colorado football coach to earn the honor (Bill McCartney in 1989). MacIntyre was also awarded the 2016 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, American Football Coaches Association's coach of the year and comeback coach of the year awards, the Associated Press coach of the year, and the Eddie Robinson coach of the year by the Football Writers Association of America. In 2018, the Buffaloes started out the season 5-0 with wins against rivals Colorado State, Nebraska, Arizona State, and UCLA - however, MacIntyre was fired as the head coach on November 18, 2018 after a six-game losing streak.
Karl Dorrell was hired as head coach on February 23, 2020 following Mel Tucker's departure for Michigan State. Previously the Miami Dolphins' assistant head coach, Dorrell signed a five-year, $18 million deal with the Buffs. Dorrell has deep ties to the University of Colorado - he coached receivers from 1992 to 1993 and was the offensive coordinator from 1995 to 1998. Dorrell finished 4-2 in his first pandemic-shortened season to put Colorado in a bowl game for the first time since 2016.
A traditional college football rivalry with the Nebraska Cornhuskers restarted in the 1980s (many historical documents show the importance of this game going back to 1898) when Bill McCartney declared the conference opponent to be their rival. His theory was since Nebraska was such a powerhouse team, if Colorado was able to beat them then they would be a good team. Colorado began to repeatedly threaten Nebraska in the late 1980s, following their win over the Huskers in 1986, and then surpassed the Huskers for the Big 8 crown in 1989.
In 1990, Colorado beat Nebraska 27-12 in Lincoln for the first time since 1967, en route to their first national title. From 1996 to 2000, the series was extremely competitive, with the margin of victory by NU in those five years being only 15 points combined. The rivalry was further buoyed by the introduction of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, which moved Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the southern division with the four new schools from Texas, formerly in the Southwest Conference. Nebraska had traditionally finished the Big 8 conference schedule with a rivalry game with Oklahoma, but the two were now in different divisions, which meant they met every other year in the regular season. Colorado replaced Oklahoma as Nebraska's final conference game of the regular season, which further intensified the rivalry. In 2001 No. 1 Nebraska came to Folsom Field undefeated and left at the short end of a nationally televised 62-36 blowout. Both teams departed the Big 12 in 2011, as NU headed east to join the Big Ten and the future of the rivalry was in doubt. On February 7, 2013, Colorado and Nebraska agreed to renew the rivalry. Colorado traveled to Lincoln in 2018 and won 33-28 (winning against Nebraska for the first time since 2007 and the first time in Lincoln since 2004). On September 7, 2019, Colorado mounted an improbable comeback after being down 17-0 at half, to win the game in overtime, 34-31. After a 3-year break, Nebraska will go to Boulder in 2023 and then host CU again the next year to finish the series. Nebraska leads the series 49-20-2 through the 2019 season.
Colorado's in-state rival is the Colorado State Rams of the Mountain West Conference, located north of Boulder in Fort Collins. The two schools are separated by 45 miles (72 km) and both consider it important and noteworthy to beat the other for bragging rights for the next year. The two football teams annually compete in the Rocky Mountain Showdown for the Centennial Cup, played in Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder. The trophy takes its name from the state of Colorado's nickname of "The Centennial State". Colorado leads the series 67-22-2 through the 2019 season.
The rivalry with Utah ran from 1903 to 1962, in which Utah and Colorado played each other nearly every year; through 1962 they had met 57 times. At the time, it was the second-most played rivalry for both teams (Utah had played Utah State 62 times; Colorado had played Colorado State 61 times). The rivalry was dormant until 2011, when both teams joined the Pac-12, renewing the rivalry on an annual basis. The Colorado-Utah rivalry remains the fifth-most played rivalry in Utah's history, and eighth-most in Colorado's history. Colorado leads the series 32-31-3 through the 2019 season.
Colorado has participated in 29 bowl games, with a record of 12-17 (.414).
|1937||Bunny Oakes||Cotton||Rice||L 14-28||35,000||--|
|1956||Dallas Ward||Orange||Clemson||W 27-21||72,552||CBS|
|1961||Sonny Grandelius||Orange||LSU||L 7-25||62,391||ABC|
|1967||Eddie Crowder||Bluebonnet||Miami (FL)||W 31-21||30,156||ABC|
|1975||Bill Mallory||Astro-Bluebonnet||Texas||L 21-38||52,728||ABC|
|1976||Orange||Ohio State||L 10-27||65,537||NBC|
|1985||Bill McCartney||Freedom||Washington||L 17-20||30,961||Lorimar|
|1988||Freedom||Brigham Young||L 17-20||35,941||Raycom|
|1989||Orange||Notre Dame||L 6-21||81,191||NBC|
|1990||Orange||Notre Dame||W 10-9||77,062||NBC|
|1993||Aloha||Fresno State||W 41-30||44,009||ABC|
|1994||Fiesta||Notre Dame||W 41-24||73,968||NBC|
|1995||Rick Neuheisel||Cotton||Oregon||W 38-6||58,214||CBS|
|1999||Gary Barnett||Insight.com||Boston College||W 62-28||35,762||ESPN|
|2005||Mike Hankwitz||Champs Sports||Clemson||L 10-19||31,470||ESPN|
|2007||Dan Hawkins||Independence||Alabama||L 24-30||47,043||ESPN|
|2016||Mike MacIntyre||Alamo||Oklahoma State||L 8-38||59,815||ESPN|
|2020||Karl Dorrell||Alamo||Texas||L 23-55||10,822||ESPN|
This section may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (September 2016)
|Year||Name||Position||Rank in Heisman voting||Points|
Announced schedules as of June 2, 2021.
North Dakota State
at Georgia Tech
at Air Force
at Colorado State
at Kansas State
at Colorado State
Other's past 2030: vs. Missouri, Aug. 30, 2031; vs. Colorado State, Sept. 17, 2033; at Colorado State, Sept. 16, 2034; vs. Colorado State, Sept. 19, 2037; at Colorado State, Sept. 18, 2038.