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BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: Colorado’s Sam Noyer throws over Utah’s Mika Tafua, left, and Maxs Tupai in the first half. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes play at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: Colorado’s Sam Noyer throws over Utah’s Mika Tafua, left, and Maxs Tupai in the first half. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes play at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Only time will tell if the Colorado Buffaloes and the rest of the Pac-12 Conference get to play all 12 games of the 2021 football season.

Tuesday’s unveiling of the schedule is a sign of hope, at least.

Matchups for conference games were already known, but specific dates for games were announced by the Pac-12 on Tuesday. Non-conference games have been scheduled for a few years.

“I’m just excited that we’re getting a normal schedule, a 12-game schedule,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said on the Pac-12 Network. “It’s a slate that is telling us that this year we’re shooting for normalcy and we’re planning that way. We’re kind of Jedi mind-tricking ourselves about that’s the process and we’re sticking to it. So I’m excited.”

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic led the Pac-12 and other conferences altering their schedules. The Pac-12 produced several versions of the schedule before starting the season in November. CU (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12 in 2020) wound up playing just five games in the regular season and six overall. The Buffs’ season came to a close with a 55-23 loss to Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all walks of life, but sports have continued and there is hope that the football season will go on as planned.

CU is slated play six games at Folsom Field and seven games in the state of Colorado for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

The Buffs are scheduled to open the season on Friday, Sept. 3, against Northern Colorado at Folsom Field. The Buffs will then battle Texas A&M on Sept. 11 at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, and host Minnesota on Sept. 18 at Folsom Field.

“(The Texas A&M game) is one of those really impressive games to hopefully play well at the beginning of the season and do well,” Dorrell said. “That might shed some light on us and the conference that we’re a conference that’s ready to get some recognition across the country. I do like the slate of non-conference games.”

CU will open the Pac-12 portion of the schedule on Sept. 25 at Arizona State. It’s just the third time in the last eight years that CU will open the conference schedule on the road. The Buffs won the other two road openers, 2016 at Oregon and 2019 at ASU.

Former CU receiver KD Nixon will return to Boulder with his new team, Southern California, on Oct. 2. The Buffs are still looking for their first win in the series, with USC going 14-0 all-time against them.

The USC game will be followed by a bye week and then an Oct. 16 home date with Arizona. The Buffs will then hit the road for a pair of games against Pac-12 North division foes, at California on Oct. 23 and at defending conference champ Oregon on Oct. 30.

In November, the Buffs will have home dates against Oregon State (Nov. 6) and Washington (Nov. 20) and road trips to UCLA (Nov. 13) and Utah (Nov. 26).

The game at Utah will be CU’s first Friday finale since 2012.

“I think it’s a good schedule,” Dorrell said. “It’s an aggressive schedule.”

Next on CU’s agenda is spring practices, which begin March 29. Dorrell said the team does talk a bit about the schedule, however.

“Even though we’re going into spring practice and getting ready for spring practice we are actually from time to time just talking about our vision about how the season is going to play out,” Dorrell said. “Winning that first game is important. It’s showing the progress we’ve made in the program from last year to this year. We want to make sure that’s evident in how we play that first game.

“The second game (against A&M) is a big measuring stick. The last measuring stick we had was Texas and we fell way, way short there. There’s a lot that’s driving us this offseason.”

The Pac-12 championship game is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 3, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Game times will be announced at a later time. Conference kickoff times are typically announced 12 or six days before the game. The Buffs do know that their game at ASU will be at night, as ASU is mandated to play its September home games at night.

The two Pac-12 teams CU will not play this year are Stanford and Washington State.

Colorado’s 2021 football schedule:

Sept. 3 – Northern Colorado (Friday)

Sept. 11 – vs. Texas A&M (Denver)

Sept. 18 – Minnesota

Sept. 25 – at Arizona State*

Oct. 2 – Southern California*

Oct. 9 – Bye

Oct. 16 – Arizona*

Oct. 23 – at California*

Oct. 30 – at Oregon*

Nov. 6 – Oregon State*

Nov. 13 – at UCLA*

Nov. 20 – Washington*

Nov. 26 – at Utah* (Friday)

* Pac-12 Conference games; home games in bold