The two institutions are separated by less than 90 miles but the Colorado Buffaloes will drive to the Colorado Springs area to visit the Air Force Academy for the first time in nearly half a century Saturday.

The teams met regularly before ending the in-state series following the game in 1974 and didn’t play again until the Falcons traveled to Boulder in 2019. Air Force won that one in a 30-23 overtime thriller.

Both teams played on opening weekend with very different outcomes. Air Force (1-0) handled Northern Iowa, 48-17, while the Buffaloes (0-1) lost to TCU at home 38-13 on Sept. 2.

In the loss to TCU, the Buffs trailed just 7-6 at halftime and were still within reach at 17-6 after three quarters before they collapsed under three fourth-quarter Horned Frog touchdowns.

It was an ominous start for head coach Karl Dorrell and his staff, which is trying to get the Buffaloes back to their glory days. While he didn’t announce a starting quarterback during the week, multiple outlets reported Saturday that Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout will start against Air Force.

Returnee Brendon Lewis started against the Horned Frogs but threw for just 78 yards before Shrout came on in the second half in his Colorado debut.

Shrout passed for 157 yards and produced Colorado’s lone TD drive of the game, but Dorrell has not publicly committed to a starter.

During his weekly press conference on Monday, Dorrell said he was encouraged by what he saw from Shrout in his first game with the Buffaloes. He missed the

“It seemed like he had a better rhythm going in terms of what he was doing,” Dorrell said of Shrout. “I still think he was moving out of the pocket prematurely at times. I saw that a lot. But it’s his first day back (from a knee injury that cost him the 2021 season). He got a chance to get the rust off from not having played in a year, and I’m sure he’s going to get better.”

The Falcons are used to playing Power Five opponents under head coach Troy Calhoun. They are 5-9 in those games and have won their last three, including a win over Louisville in the First Responder Bowl last December.

The players aren’t getting overhyped about playing the Buffaloes, who lead the all-time series 12-5.

“I would just say it’s really just the next game — the next game’s most important,” safety Camby Goff said. “That’s what it means to us. They’re a good team. We know about them. … But we’ll just prepare for the next game.”

Against Northern Iowa, the Falcons had 582 yards rushing and threw only six passes (completing three for 109 yards and a touchdown).

Brad Roberts gained 114 yards and Haaziq Daniels 107 as 16 different players carried the ball for Air Force, which led 31-3 after three quarters.

–Field Level Media