The pressure is on the University of Denver to put away a lowly Colorado College team in the first installment of their annual quest for the Gold Pan Trophy

The numbers give the edge to the twelvth-ranked (USA Today) Pioneers, and understandably so. But that’s not so much a rousing endorsement for DU as it is a critique of CC.

Right now, the Tigers are, to put it lightly, hopelessly inept. Colorado College is winless, and stands at 0-8 overall, and have been outscored by a margin of 30-11. To top it all off, they’re currently riding an 11-game losing skid dating back to last year.

The last time CC put together a mildly respectable campaign was four years ago. During the 2011-12 season, the Tigers went 18-16-2. It was also the last time the team had a winning record.

To be fair, CC has faced its fair share of excellent competition. The Tigers have played three top-10 teams already this year in UMass-Lowell, Boston College and North Dakota.

The Pioneers have been doing some tough sledding of their own, though not for as long as the Tigers. Denver also came up winless in a tour of Beantown last weekend, losing first to third-ranked Boston College, and then to No. 11 Boston University. Each of Denver’s losses came in one-goal decisions.

Denver is the rightful favorite, showcasing a slew of offensive talent (like that of sophomore Danton Heinen) that has produced 3.50 goals a game so far this year.

Insert Colorado College caveats here.

The Tigers are still searching for their first win of the season, and the opportunity to grab that in a rivalry matchup provides that much more fuel for coach Jim Haviland’s squad to disrupt a top-tier team.

In a sense, the Pioneers are also due for a loss against the Tigers, having swept CC in last year’s series. But that’s a tough act to replicate no matter who you play.

And if recent history has any bearing in this year’s rivalry discussion, the Pioneers shouldn’t be resting on their laurels.

CC claimed the Gold Pan two years ago in the midst of a dismal season, where they were 7-24-6 overall. Yet two of their seven wins came against DU that year.

Considering all these pieces, it’s a perfect storm brewing in favor of the Tigers. The Pioneers have no reason to believe that they will be able to coast to a consecutive Gold Pan-hoisting year. The battle for the Gold Pan Trophy promises to be exactly that—a battle.

Image Credit: University of Denver

Calvin Jouard is an intern at Mile High Sports and a student at the University of Denver