SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Thursday afternoon, Mike MacIntyre took his Colorado Buffaloes for a little tour of Levi's Stadium.
It's where MacIntyre told the Buffs last August they would be on Dec. 2.
It's where they have been planning to be all fall.
Now, while the rest of the college football world has been taken by surprise, the Buffs are taking their trip in stride — ready to play one more game with the aim of taking one more step in a rather improbable journey.
MacIntyre's eighth-ranked, 10-2 Buffaloes are just one win away from winning CU's first Pac-12 football title and the program's first conference title since 2001. Standing in their way is fourth-ranked Washington (11-1).
A Colorado win in Friday's 7 p.m. Pac-12 Championship game (Fox) would guarantee the Buffs of at least a spot in the Rose Bowl, while also keeping alive their slim hopes of moving up to a No. 4 ranking in the College Football Playoffs and a berth in the CFP semifinals.
But while the stakes and stage are no doubt bigger, the Buffs have been doing their best all week to treat this game just like they've treated every other game this year: a game they need to win.