How Are The Buffs Stampeding The College Football World?

Written By Ian St. Clair on 12/09/2020 - Last Updated on March 21, 2024

When the college football season (finally) started, the University of Colorado had no shot.

That was the consensus of just about everyone, from the various sportsbooks to analysts.

Before the season started, CU’s odds to win the Pac-12 were +10,000.

Yet here we are: the Buffaloes remain unbeaten at 4-0 and are ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2018. With a little luck, they could play in the Pac-12 championship game.

To say this is a remarkable season for CU is selling first-year head coach Karl Dorrell and this program short.

It’s also a great start for the Colorado sports betting market.

CU vs. Utah

The Buffs will look to keep their unblemished record intact at 10 a.m. MST this Saturday when they host the University of Utah at Folsom Field.

Even better? Because of a schedule change, the top FOX college football broadcast team of Gus Johnson and former Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt will be on the call. This is also because of “The Game” between Michigan and Ohio State getting canceled.

If CU is able to take care of the Utes, to have a shot at the Pac-12 title game it needs some help from UCLA on Saturday.

Since the Buffs had two games canceled this season, if USC beats the Bruins on Saturday it advances to the Pac-12 championship with one more conference win in hand. What makes this maddening on the part of CU is one of the games that got canceled was against the Trojans.

Thanks, 2020.

Yet Ralphie Report had a great idea: Even if Colorado doesn’t make the Pac-12 title game (if it wins), there’s a chance to claim the 2020 National Championship under protest.

How has CU beaten the odds?

The first step for the Buffs is to take care of Utah. If they don’t, none of this matters anyway.

Yet the fact Colorado is in this position is a heckuva accomplishment.

As Lenny Estrin, the head trader at, told PlayColorado:

“The Buffaloes have been an enormous surprise to everyone up to this point, easily eclipsing a regular season win total that many took the ‘under’ with. They had 100-1 odds to win the Pac-12 at the outset of the season, but on par with this wacky 2020 year, the Buffs have pulled off the unexpected.”

Now to the key question when it comes to the Buffs: How have they been able to shock the college football world and beat the steep odds?

As Kevin Dawn, the Barstool sportsbook director at Ameristar in Black Hawk, said to PlayColorado:

“I think that Coach Dorrell has a lot to do with that. I think the fact that he has been an assistant at CU twice, so his familiarity with the area and the campus allowed for him to settle in more quickly. And his past experience as a head coach, I believe, helped him with navigating these difficult times.”

Colorado likes betting on college football

In terms of college football betting in Colorado, the market got a glimpse of what is possible with the release of the October sports betting handle.

For the month, it was in the top three for sports wagered on.

Aided by the return of Colorado State and Air Force, the total jumped to $16.5 million in October from just $3.8 million in September.

And that’s before CU took the field in early November.

So that number should shoot up, especially with how well the Buffaloes have played.

And while the ongoing issues with COVID-19 and the restrictions for Colorado casinos because of it are no doubt a hindrance to attendance, fans still want to watch and bet on their Buffs.

The success for CU, and lack of it for the Broncos, doesn’t impact the other in terms of attendance.

As Dawn said:

“Generally, college football and pro football attract different crowds. We have had a good crowd on both Saturdays for the Buffs and on Sundays for pro football. Coloradans haven’t given up on the Broncos just yet, so we are still doing a good business on both days.”

What does this success mean for the Buffs’ future?

Now that the Buffs have had this surprising success, what does it mean for Saturday, and for 2021, when the season is, hopefully, more normal?

Dawn told Play CO:

“This season is difficult, with the way the Pac-12 set the rules before the season, CU may not have an opportunity to play for a Pac-12 title even if they go undefeated. They are about 14/1 from an odds standpoint right now, but they will need to win this week and get some help from UCLA to have a shot. As far as next season, odds won’t be out until after the entire college football season ends and we get to see which underclassmen may leave. I do think that CU is in a good position to be very competitive next season because a lot of younger guys are seeing playing time and they only have about 10-15 players that are graduating.”

Added Estrin:

“The Pac-12 powers are constantly in flux so why not a changing of the guard in 2021? This is a young team with a ton of talent so hopefully they can end the season on a high note and keep the momentum going. Boulder and all of Colorado would go bananas with the Buffs in the mix next year.”

Photo by AP / David Zalubowski
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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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