Colorado moved to 3-0 and capped off an undefeated non-conference slate on Saturday, with a 41-21 victory over the Northern Colorado Bears. While wins are wins, and you take them anyway you can get them in college football, the Buffaloes have a lot of work to do before defending Pac-12 champion Washington comes to Boulder this Saturday night under the lights at Folsom Field.
Colorado started slowly for the second week in a row, getting the ball to start the game, going three and out, then surrendering their first TD of the season on a 33-yard touchdown pass from UNC QB Jacob Knipp to receiver Alex Wesley. Colorado answered with a 6 play, 75-yard drive in only 1:49 to tie the game at 7. Colorado scored three more times in the first half, to take a 28-7 lead with only 4:23 left in the second quarter. From there, things got interesting. Jacob Knipp threw a perfect 52-yard strike for a touchdown to make the score 28-14 headed into halftime. UNC would score again to start the third quarter, pulling to within 28-21 before Colorado began to assert itself late in the third quarter and the fourth quarter. Colorado would kick two field goals and score one more touchdown late in the game to make the final 41-21. Buffaloes Quarterback Steven Montez again showed flashes of brilliance, throwing for 357 yards, 4 touchdowns, while also adding 68 yards on the ground. Phillip Lindsay, who didn’t find a lot of space until the fourth quarter, finished with 151 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Four different receivers caught a touchdown for Colorado, but Devon Ross led the way with 8 catches, 143 yards, and a touchdown, his first since the Oregon game last year.
While the offense started to get going late in the game, there were more concerns and a lot that has to be fixed if Colorado wants to compete with Washington next weekend. Firstly, the Buffaloes turned the ball over 3 times, which can’t happen come Pac-12 play. In 2016, The Buffaloes did a great job of limiting turnovers, and forcing them, something they haven’t done to this point in 2017. There’s also the discipline issue. Colorado was penalized 14 times for 114 yards, which is way too many if the team wants to continue its rise to relevance in the conference.
Defensively, the Buffaloes were exposed through the air a little bit, giving up a couple of big plays and getting barely any pressure on Bears quarterback Jacob Knipp, which could be problematic moving forward with all the great quarterback play in the conference. Offensively, Colorado needs to continue to become more innovative on offense, and find ways to get Phillip Lindsay in space.
Even though the Buffaloes went 3-0 in non-conference play, we won’t find out about this team until this Saturday night. If Colorado can keep it close, there will definitely be a reason for optimism. If it’s a replay of the Pac-12 title game, the fans may be starting to hit the panic button.