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Colorado’s Other Division I Football Team


Most of the college football attention in Colorado focuses on the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and the Air Force Academy. But there’s another school that plays Division I football: the University of Northern Colorado. The UNC Bears are, to put it nicely, a work in progress.

Rock Chalk Talk, a fan blog for the Bears’ upcoming opponent, the Kansas Jayhawks, points out that the Bears were a major Division II team, winning back-to-back national titles in 1996 and 1997.


When they entered the big leagues of college football, they went 9-2 as an independent team, before joining the Great West Conference in 2004, where they went 6-16 over two seasons. They then switched to their current Big Sky Conference, where they’ve suffered through three straight seasons with just one win. Ouch.

Anyone who follows college football knows the Bears have almost no chance of beating the Jayhawks this weekend. Sports Network notes that the Bears are 2-9 against teams from the Big 12, with all 11 meetings coming against CU. The Kansas City Star writes about the game as if it’s a preseason affair for the Jayhawks, suggesting that “there is no reason Northern Colorado should be able to move the ball on KU’s first- or second-team defense.”

That might be true, but let’s find room in our college football hearts for the Bears. They’re one of ours, and as bad as they may be, they show up to play.

5280 Longreads

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