The Colorado Buffaloes needed just three wins over their final nine games of the 2017 to become bowl eligible. After opening the season 3-0 against non-conference foes, the Pac-12 proved to be too daunting a task one year removed from their first South division title. It’s a disappointing end for a group of four Colorado senior playmakers who could see themselves playing on Sundays next season.

With a 34-13 loss to the Utah Utes on Friday, Colorado completed a worst-to-first-to-worst cycle, finishing 5-7 on the season and 2-7 in conference play.

The loss caps an unfortunate season for senior running back Phillip Lindsay, winner of the Buffalo Heart Award, and senior wide receivers Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo. Advertised as possibly the best wide receiver trio and one of the most dangerous playmaking threats out of the backfield in the Pac-12, the four horsemen of the CU offense could never really get their feet in the ground through Pac-12 play. Those four seniors will now

Saturday’s finale was emblematic of Colorado’s struggles throughout conference play, as sophomore quarterback Steven Montez connected on just 50 percent of his pass attempts in the game and the Buffs defense let the Utes offense move at will. Colorado surrendered 491 yards of total offense in the loss, 310 on the ground.

After posting one of the top defenses in the country en route to their first Pac-12 South division championship, Colorado’s defense proved it’s greatest undoing in a season that started with so much promise after that fast start against Colorado State (17-3), Texas State (37-3) and Northern Colorado (41-21). However, the high-powered offenses of the Pac-12 proved to be a much greater challenge. By season’s end the Buffaloes had allowed an average of 208 rushing yards per game (108th in FBS) and 242.6 passing yards (93rd, one spot ahead of in-state rival Colorado State).

Lindsay, despite the down year in the win-loss column, finished the season with 1,474 rushing yards – his second 1,200-plus-yard effort, a career high and good enough to move him into second-place all time in Buffs history (3,775) – to go along with a team-leading 14 touchdowns.

Bobo, Fields and Ross each finished the season with more than 500 yards receiving, individually. Bobo’s 693 yard on 62 receptions led the Buffs in both categories. Fields’ 623 yards this season moved him into second place all time (2,590) behind Nelson Spruce in the CU record books.

In the loss to Utah, Lindsay ran for 72 yards and a touchdown – the last of his collegiate career. Bobo caught four passes for 53 yards. Ross did not have a catch, but did carry the ball once for six yards. Fields did not register on the stat sheet.

Sunday’s game qualified Utah for bowl eligibility. It will be their fourth consecutive bowl appearance and their 11th since Kyle Whittingham took over full-time for Urban Meyer. Colorado, meanwhile, will be absent from the postseason for the ninth time in 10 years. The Buffs have not attended a bowl game in back-to-back seasons since 2004-05.

Mike MacIntyre’s quartet will now turn their attention to graduation and the NFL Draft. So far none from the group has been announced as a participant in the 2018 Senior Bowl, although those announcements could still be forthcoming.