The Buffs are playing for the Pac-12 Championship.

Saturday night's win over Utah put Colorado in contention for a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. It’s a high few fans have experienced since the 1990 championship.

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“This year's been a big surprise," CU alum Steve Thygesen said.Thygesen remembers coming to Buffs games since he was a 6-year-old growing up in Boulder with his father.

In 1988 he enrolled at CU, just in time to witness one of its greatest football wins in history: a 10-9 over #5 ranked Notre Dame to win the National Championship.

Even with that memory still fresh, Thygesen considers the 2016 a season just as memorable, if not more so.

“It's just different because we didn't have the expectation [to win it all],” he said. “By the time we won the championship in the '90s we sort of felt like we could've had a chance, but this year; this came out of nowhere.”

Thygesen’s sentiment isn’t isolated. It rises, just like this CU team, to Athletic Director Rick George.

“I think it's a pretty good time to be a Buff,” George said.

Before coming to CU three years ago, George worked for the Texas Rangers, a stint that landed him two American League Pennant titles.

In some ways he considers this Buff season more rewarding.

“[I’m] very glad I came to Boulder,” George said smiling. “Our student athletes are great and to see them have success out there is really fun to watch and it's gratifying in a lot of ways.”

Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained a number of errors. It stated the Texas Rangers won two world championships when the team in fact won two American League pennant titles in 2010 and 2011. We also originally listed the date when CU entered the PAC 12 as 2015, when the correct date is 2011. We also removed a reference to the fact that CU going to the Rose Bowl would result in an $18 million bonus for the PAC-12 when this would happen regardless of which PAC-12 team plays in the Rose Bowl. All information has been corrected in the updated article.