Maybe it's the mile-high altitude, or the early 2-foot snowfall that hit the Denver area earlier this week. Something must be in the air in the Rockies these days, because at least one member of 24th-ranked Colorado believes the Buffaloes will pull off the biggest upset of the season.
Today, at No. 2 Texas.
"I think we're playing well enough to give [Texas] a good game," senior tight end Joe Klopfenstein said in an interview with the Denver Post. "I think we're going to go in there and beat them. We're really hitting our stride. It's pretty much perfect timing to play a team like that."
The Buffs have seemingly put the recruiting and sex scandal that rocked the program in the spring of 2004 behind them. The heads of the former athletic director Dick Tharp and university president Elizabeth Hoffman were lopped off, but not coach Gary Barnett's.
At 4-1 and 2-0 in the Big 12 North after one-sided wins over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M - teams the Buffs lost to last season - Colorado should have some confidence going into Austin. Perhaps the Longhorns will have a letdown after their first win over border rival Oklahoma since 1999.
"There's no apparent weakness, they're playing as well as I've ever seen a Texas team play," said Barnett, who has voted the Longhorns No. 1 all season in the coaches poll.
But Barnett is starting to think the Buffaloes have a chance to win not only the Big 12's weak North Division, but the whole conference. The last time it happened was in 2001.
"I don't know if I'm quite ready to say it has the same feel, but it's pretty close," Barnett said at his weekly news conference.
Colorado has improved on some of its weaknesses from last season, which included a 31-7 loss to Texas in Boulder.
"Last year we couldn't bounce back from penalties and other mistakes," linebacker Brian Iwuh said. "When we're put in tough situations this year, we go onto the field knowing [we can]. I don't think we've played our best game yet."
Recalling last year's game, Barnett said, "We were so disappointed in the way we played. I'm sure we'll bounce back."
Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione said he's seen tremendous improvement in Colorado.
"They played with great spirit and confidence," said Franchione, whose Aggies lost to the Buffaloes, 41-20. "I think you've seen it all year, and it just continues to grow."
Being ranked for the first time this season is just a starting point.
"We haven't gotten too excited about it because I don't think anybody on our team is satisfied with a No. 24 ranking," Iwuh said. "We think we're better than that."
Race of the Owls
Temple and Florida Atlantic might share the same nickname and a spot among college football's so-called Bottom 10, but the Owls who play for Howard Schnellenberger separated themselves from their fellow doormats by winning last week for the first time this season.
After opening their fifth season overall and first full schedule of Division I-A opponents with five straight defeats, Florida Atlantic beat another bottom-feeder, Louisiana-Lafayette, on the road, 28-10. "It was a relief that we could get a win," Schnellenberger said earlier this week.
Actually, Schnellenberger hopes it represents more than just getting off the schneid.
"It was a beginning of a validation about the direction that we've taken as far as out-of-conference games are concerned," Schnellenberger said. "Obviously, we've got to continue to win in our conference before we can say it [a tough nonconference schedule] was good for us. I know it's going to be good for us in the long haul."
This year, Schnellenberger's team started the season at Kansas before hosting Oklahoma and then playing at Minnesota and later at Louisville, where Schnellenberger once coached. It's not going to be easy building a winning streak, since his Owls face Middle Tennessee, which two weeks ago knocked off then-unbeaten Vanderbilt.
Schnellenberger once prided himself on taking on the world, first at Miami and later at Louisville. Now he just hopes to take on the Sun Belt Conference.
A week ago, Kyle Ambrogi scored two offensive touchdowns while his younger brother Greg scored a defensive touchdown in Penn's 53-7 win over Bucknell. Two days later, Kyle, a senior reserve tailback, committed suicide at the family's home in Haverford, Pa.
According to the player's family, Ambrogi was suffering from depression.
"I knew my brother had been having some problems," Greg Ambrogi, a sophomore defensive back, told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I thought he was getting better. I can't believe it happened. I can't cry yet."
Quakers coach Al Bagnoli called Kyle Ambrogi "one of our shining lights."
Greg Ambrogi recalled his feeling in the locker room after last week's game.
"Afterward that's all everybody was talking about," said Greg Ambrogi, who recovered a fumbled snap and returned it for a touchdown. "How great it was that we, as brothers, got to score in the same game and did so on different sides of the ball. It was awesome."