Colorado wasn’t at their best on Thursday night. In fact, you could say they were almost at their worst. The Buffaloes turned the ball over 4 times, and committed 12 penalties for 128 yards, including 8 of the unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike variety. The Colorado defense stood tall, however, and the Buffaloes outlasted the Bruins 20-10 at Folsom Field.
On the offensive side of the ball, Colorado couldn’t get anything going, struggling to move the ball most of the night. Sefo Liufau played poorly for the second game in a row, throwing two interceptions and fumbling after taking a vicious hit on a sack. He went into the locker room before the half, and backup Steven Montez threw an interception on his only drive of the game. Colorado’s only offensive touchdown drive of the night was set up on an interception by Kenneth Olugbode topped off by a one yard touchdown run by Phillip Lindsay.
Defensively, Colorado lost their best pass rusher Jimmie Gilbert because of a targeting penalty on UCLA’s first drive. Bruins quarterback Mike Faufaul struggled to move the ball, going 15/29 for 185 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Buffaloes run defense was stout, giving up only 25 yards rushing on 30 carries. The Olugbode interception in the first quarter extended the Buffaloes national streak of forcing a turnover to 22 games. The only downside was the penalties. Colorado was flagged multiple times, and not because of hard play. They lost their head, got too involved in the trash talk, and allowed UCLA to bait them for big penalties throughout the night.
Special teams have been the Achilles heel for the Buffaloes in 2016. On Thursday night, it was a major reason that they won the game. 3rd string kicker Chris Graham hit 2/3 field goals and made both of his extra point tries. Colorado blocked one field goal, and UCLA missed 2 other to go 1/4 on the night. Punt returner Isaiah Oliver ripped off two long returns, including a 68-yard touchdown late in the 4th quarter to ice the game and send the blackout crowd into a frenzy.
On Saturday the Buffaloes head on the road to Tucson to take on a reeling Arizona squad. While this game looked to be a trap game a couple of weeks ago with huge conference home games looming, how poorly Colorado played may have woke them up. The offense needs to get back on track, and I think against a terrible Wildcats team they’re going to do just that. Give me Colorado, huge, 42-14.