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Best of the West Top 25: CU Buffs and CSU Rams are on cusp of wrong type of history

Buffaloes and Rams, both 4-6, need to win out to avoid going bowl-less in the same autumn for consecutive seasons for the first time since 2011 and 2012.

BOULDER, CO – September 7: Buffs Going Bananas reacts Nebraska’s second touchdown of the football game against University of Colorado at Folsom Field Stadium on Saturday. September 7, 2019. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)
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It’s been a frustrating decade, at times, for college football along the Front Range.  And if the CU Buffs and CSU Rams don’t win out, it could wind up being a historic decade, too.

Both the Buffs and Rams hit the final kick of their respective seasons with matching 4-6 records — the first time the two rivals have been 4-6 after 10 games at the same time since World War II — with each needing to sweep their two remaining games to reach .500 and a potential postseason berth.

Unfortunately, CU and CSU figure to be underdogs the rest of the way. As of Monday, VegasInsider.com’s opening line had the Rams as a 7.5-point ‘dog at Wyoming (6-4) on Friday night, while the Buffs opened as a 14.5-point home underdog to Washington (6-4) on late Saturday evening.

CU finishes the regular season with a Nov. 30 trip to 9-1 Utah, the No. 2 team in the latest Denver Post Best of the West top 25 poll. CSU closes out its dance card with a visit from 9-1 Boise State, the No. 3 team in the West, on Black Friday.

If neither the Buffs nor Rams win out, it’ll be the second straight autumn in which both schools failed to reach the postseason. That hasn’t happened in back-to-back falls since 2011 and ’12 — and it would also make it five out of the last 10 years (2010-19) that neither of the state’s two largest FBS programs reached the postseason in the same year.

That’s a recurrence of bowl droughts unseen on the Front Range since the 1980s, a decade in which CSU never reached the postseason and CU missed a bowl from 1980-84 — during the transition from Chuck Fairbanks to Bill McCartney — and again in 1987.

The Best of the West top 25 power poll ranks the best teams in the FBS from the Front Range to the Pacific Ocean, as culled from the Pac-12, the Mountain West and BYU.

Post colleges writer Sean Keeler (@SeanKeeler) and Post deputy sports editor Matt Schubert (@MattDSchubert) vote on the top 25 every Monday; this week’s guest voter was Post staffer Maureen Burnett.

Wyoming was the poll’s biggest tumbler after a second straight road defeat over the weekend — a 26-21 setback to No. 9 Utah State bumped the Cowboys from No. 7 last week to No. 15 on Monday. Oregon State, conversely, was this week’s top climber after its third win in four games; the 10th-ranked Beavers visit No. 11 Washington State on Saturday in what could be a bowl-elimination tussle for two 5-5 squads.

The latest Best of the West follows, with in-state squads listed in bold:

THE DENVER POST BEST OF THE WEST TOP 25 POWER POLL — NOV. 18

1. Oregon (9-1) (3 first place votes) — Last week: 1; Up next: at ASU

2. Utah (9-1) — Last week: 2; Up next: at ARIZ

3. Boise State (9-1) — Last week: 3; Up next: at USU

4. Washington (6-4) — Last week: 4; Up next: At CU

5. Air Force (8-2) — Last week: 5; Up next: at NM

6. USC (7-4) — Last week: 6; Up next: vs. UCLA

7. BYU (6-4) — Last week: 8; Up next: at UMASS

8. San Diego State (8-2) — Last week: 12; Up next: at HAW

9. Utah State (6-4) — Last week: 11; Up next: vs. BOISE

▲10. Oregon State (5-5) — Last week: 16; Up next: at WAZZU

11. Washington State (5-5) — Last week: 15; Up next: vs. OREST

12. Arizona State (5-5) — Last week: 9; Up next: vs. ORE

13. California (5-5) — Last week: 10; Up next: at STAN

14. Hawaii (7-4) — Last week: 14; Up next: vs. SDSU

▼15. Wyoming (6-4) — Last week: 7; Up next: vs. CSU, Fri.

16. UCLA (4-6) — Last week: 13; Up next: at USC

17. CU (4-6) — Last week: 18; Up next: vs. WASH

18. Stanford (4-6) — Last week: 17; Up next: vs. CAL

19. Arizona (4-6) — Last week: 20; Up next: vs. UTAH

20. Nevada (6-4) — Last week: 19; Up next: at FRES

21. CSU (4-6) — Last week: 21; Up next: at WYO, Fri.

22. Fresno State (4-6) — Last week: 22; Up next: vs. NEV

23. San Jose State (4-6) — Last week: 23; Up next: at UNLV

24. UNLV (2-8) — Last week: 24; Up next: vs. SJS

25. New Mexico (2-8) — Last week: 25; Up next: vs. AFA

The next Best of the West poll will post at 8 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 25.

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