The University of Colorado football team needs a win tonight in the worst way. The CU Buffs will take on the West Virginia University Mountaineers on ESPN in a game that could get very ugly. After dropping the opener to Colorado State University and then getting spanked by Toledo just a few days later in a nationally televised game just a few days later, they were able to bounce back and stomp Wyoming. Still, the consensus in many circles is that the Buffs just aren’t that good.

West Virginia, a 2-1 team that has scored at least 30 points in each of its games, will probably be looking for revenge, after the Buffs upset them last year in overtime 17-14 in front of more than 51,000 fans at Folsom Field in Boulder. A key to avoiding another nationally televised embarrassment will be improved play from the Buffs’ wide receivers.

The Denver Post points out that the teams’ most experienced pass catchers are less than six feet tall, and the younger, taller players will have to step up. Doc’s Sports Service, a sports-handicapping Web site, calls the Mountaineers 17-point favorites but notes West Virginia’s defense isn’t much better than Colorado’s.

Doc’s succinctly sums up the implications of this early-season game for the Buffs: “If the Buffs (1-2) have any prayer of reaching a bowl game (unlikely), they will need to win on Thursday heading into Big 12 play.”