Strike 3: The Colorado Buffaloes move to the Big 12 should result in more success on the football field moving forward. Trading in USC, Oregon, Washington and the like for Texas Tech, West Virginia, Houston and Cincinnati is a good deal. Not a cakewalk to be sure, but a touch less arduous path to bowl eligibility.

Also coming along to the new Big 12 is the Buffs designated Pac-12 rival Utah. Remember when they joined the Pac together a decade ago and someone in California decided they were suddenly arch rivals?

Alas, they aren’t going to be designated rivals anymore.

So much for the “Rumble in the Rockies” that never really was.

Utah was never CU’s rival. Colorado State is.

The Utes are lucky. They have their true rival back in the same conference now. The Holy War game between Utah and BYU will resume in Salt Lake next fall on Nov. 9. This might be the one and only occasion where conference realignment brought BACK a rivalry instead of ending one. And this IS a heated rivalry. The Big 12 won’t have Texas vs. Oklahoma anymore, but in terms of pure football hate, the Holy War doesn’t take a back seat. It will eventually be moved to the final week of the season where it belongs, like it used to be in the Mountain West.

Meanwhile, what will the Buffs do now for a late season rivalry game?

The 2024 schedule has the season finale match up with old foe Oklahoma State in that slot.

Sorry Big 12. Wrong State.

It should be crystal clear to everyone around here, including the suits in Boulder: The final regular season game of the college football season should feature our state’s version of the Holy War: Colorado vs. Colorado State.

The old, tired arguments about needing conference matchups, etc is just that. Tired. And wrong. Everyone knows that Georgia plays Georgia Tech, Florida plays Florida State, and Clemson plays South Carolina on “Rivalry Weekend.” Those schools are in different conferences (at least for now. Check back later on that.)

There’s absolutely no reason why Colorado and Colorado State should not play every season on Thanksgiving weekend, because the Rams are the Buffs one true rival.

It would be the perfect crescendo for a sport that has lost relevance along the front range as the seasons have gone on. Not even Deion Sanders could keep CU in the national spotlight last November. But if the Rams and Buffs were playing late in the season, you can bet they’d own a whole lot of eyeballs, regardless of the records and who’s coaching whom.

If the CU administration thinks playing CSU every year is beneath them, they should just hit the rewind button to last September. The most watched College Football game in America on that particular Saturday, remember?

CU would do well playing the Rams every year, and it wouldn’t damage their Power Four standing. After all, the Buffs future non-conference schedules are not exactly a gauntlet. They feature games against Delaware, Weber State, Northern Illinois, Colgate, UMass and UNC. Really. No Air Force, and no CSU.

There’s not room for an annual game against your one true rival in there somewhere? The bad guys in green and gold – the ones who made it personal – on Rivalry Weekend?

And what happens when Deion leaves and takes his show elsewhere? How many of the remaining CU fans would rather watch the Sanders-less Buffs play Colgate instead of Colorado State?

Making this game happen annually should once again be a priority for administrators at both schools, and perhaps the political types that forced the issue almost three decades ago when the series was dormant. The massive amount of schedule juggling that happened in 2020 has proven that schedules can be changed quickly and easily.

It’s time for the folks in Boulder and Fort Collins to give the fans the rivalry game they want.