October 29, 2011 – at Arizona State           No. 23 Arizona State 48, Colorado 14

The University of Colorado continued to compile all-time (negative) records in losing its first-ever game against a Pac-12 South rival, falling 48-14 to No. 23 Arizona State. In falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, the result of the game was never in doubt. The Buffs surrendered over 30 points for the sixth straight game, which last happened in 1983. Colorado also gave up over 500 yards of total offense (522) for the fourth consecutive game, something which had never happened before.

Then, of course, there was the road losing streak, extended to 22 games (the previous record for consecutive road losses, in the 121-year history of the program, was ten).

The Colorado offense did show some signs of life against Arizona State, posting 420 yards, the second-highest total of the season (582 v. Cal). A season-high five turnovers, however, prevented the Buffs from ever mounting a serious challenge.

The Sun Devil Stadium crowd of 53,168 hardly had time to apply sunblock before the game was out of hand. With a game-time temperature of 85 degrees, the Sun Devils came out hot. Arizona State became the fourth consecutive opponent to score on its opening drive against Colorado, requiring only 2:03 of game clock to take the lead for good. The five-play, 66-yard drive was capped by a 25-yard pass from quarterback Brock Osweiller to wide receiver Jamal Miles. Arizona State 7, Colorado 0.

Red-shirt freshman quarterback Nick Hirschman, making his first career start, failed to create a spark in the Colorado offense. A quick three-and-out gave the ball back to the Sun Devils, who knew what to do with the ball. It took Osweiller and the ASU offense only six plays to cover 82 yards – with only two second downs on the drive. Running back Cameron Marshall did the honors this time, finishing off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run. Arizona State 14, Colorado 0 – with 8:47 still left to play in the first quarter.

On the Buffs’ ensuing drive, Nick Hirschman did lead the Buffs to their first first down of the game, but the drive thereafter quickly stalled. This time, though, the Buffs’ defense forced a punt, giving the Buff Nation hope that the 29-0 first quarter deficit of the week before against Oregon would not be repeated.

Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen, who had suffered a concussion in the first half of the Oregon game, and whose return to play was in doubt the entire week leading up to the Arizona State game, then made his debut against Arizona State. Hansen, though, was no more successful in moving the ball against the Sun Devil defense. Hansen missed on his first three pass attempts of the game (all directed toward red-shirt freshman wide receiver Keenan Canty). Forced to punt, the Buffs’ best player, freshman punter Darragh O’Neill, was thereafter called upon for the third time in the quarter.

This time, the Arizona State offense was not to be denied. The Sun Devils needed only four plays to up the score to 21-0, with Osweiller hitting Kevin Ozier for a 33-yard touchdown. Not 29-0, as had been the case against Oregon in the first quarter … but bad enough. Arizona State had 222 yards of total offense in the first quarter, to just 54 for Colorado.

Thanks to two 15-yard penalties against Arizona State (pass interference and roughing the passer), along with an 18-yard pass from Hansen to Canty, the Buffs started the second quarter at the ASU 35-yard line. Any hopes of the Buffs mounting a comeback were quashed on the first play of the second quarter, when senior wide receiver Logan Gray fumbled the ball back to the Sun Devils.

The game well in hand, the play on both sides of the ball deteriorated. After the teams exchanged punts, Arizona State strung together a nine-play drive which stalled at the Colorado 21-yard line, where Alex Garoutte connected from 38 yards out to make the new score 24-0.

On the Buffs’ next drive, a scrambling Tyler Hansen hit Logan Gray for 42 yards on third-and-ten, giving the Buffs new life. On third-and-15 from the ASU 21 yard line, though, Hansen and sophomore tight end DaVaughn Thornton got crossed up. Hansen thought Thornton would zig, but instead Thornton zagged, making for an easy interception by Sun Devil defensive back Clint Floyd.

An exchange of punts gave Arizona State the ball back with 1:53 to play before halftime. On first down, though, quarterback Brock Osweiller was tackled for a 10 yard loss by Travis Sandersfeld. The Buff senior defensive back forced a fumble, which was scooped up by red-shirt freshman Josh Moten and carried in the final 16 yards for a Colorado touchdown, the Buffs’ first first half touchdown since the first drive of the Washington game two weeks earlier. Arizona State 24, Colorado 7.

Not content with a 17-point lead, the Sun Devils quickly retaliated. Arizona State had no time outs to work with, and less than two minutes of play clock, but that proved trivial, as the Sun Devils went for 51 yards on their first play after the Colorado touchdown (Osweiller to Aaron Plugrad). Two plays later, Cameron Marshall, who would rush for 114 yards on the day, scored his second touchdown of the first half on an 11-yard run with 55 seconds left before halftime.

With five seconds to play before halftime, Tyler Hansen connected with Logan Gray for 53 yards. However, as had been the case for the Colorado offense most of the 2011 season, the effort was of no value, as the first half expired with Gray being tackled at the Arizona State six yard line.

Halftime score: Arizona State 31, Colorado 7

The second half began for the Buffs the same way the first half had – poorly. Red-shirt freshman Justin Gorman, the holder on kicks for the Buffs, became the 13th player to return a kick for Colorado in 2011 (the record is 14, set in 1956), returning the second half kickoff 30 yards. Two first downs were wasted, though, when Tyler Hansen threw his second interception of the game, setting up an Arizona State field goal. Arizona State 34, Colorado 7.

The Buffs’ next drive was their first sustained drive of the game, with the Buffs traveling 59 yards in 12 plays. An 18-yard pass from Hansen to red-shirt freshman running back Tony Jones set up the Colorado offense with a first-and-goal at the Arizona State three yard line. Four Tony Jones carries, though, netted only two yards, with Colorado turning the ball over on downs when Jones was stopped on fourth-and-goal at the one by Sun Devil All-American linebacker Vontaze Binfet. (It was of little consolation that Binfet was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play – the penalty, adding insult to injury, went for less than the length of a football).

The Colorado defense eventually forced a punt out of the Arizona State defense, but the kick was fumbled by Keenan Canty at the Colorado 13 yard line. The ASU offense made quick work of the great field position, with Cameron Marshall picking up his third touchdown of the game three plays later on a four yard run. Arizona State 41, Colorado 7.

The Buffs then opened the fourth quarter with its only scoring drive of the game. Sophomore running back Josh Ford, who came into the game with only five carries on the season, was the star, clicking off runs of 20 and 11 yards in succession to set the Buffs up at the Arizona State 21-yard line. From there, Tyler Hansen hit senior wide receiver Toney Clemons for a 21-yard touchdown, the first for the Colorado offense in eight quarters of play. Arizona State 41, Colorado 14.

Midway through the fourth quarter, after taking over on downs when Tyler Hansen was unable to connect with Logan Gray on a fourth-and-two near midfield, Arizona State posted the final points of the contest. An eight yard run by James Morrison capped a 51 yard drive on five plays (all runs). Arizona State 48, Colorado 14.

The Buffs’ offense had one last drive in them. Led by Nick Hirschman and Josh Ford, the Buffs pushed the ball to midfield. There, on fourth-and-one, Hirschman hit tight end Ryan Deehan for 36 yards to the Arizona State 14 yard line. There, for the third time in as many trips to the red zone on the day, the Buffs failed to score. Josh Ford, who had six carries for 34 yards on the drive, committed the Buffs’ fifth turnover, a fumble at the ASU 15-yard line.

Final score: Arizona State 48, Colorado 14

The box score was more balanced than might have been expected. Arizona State had 522 yards of total offense, but the Buffs countered with 420. Colorado held the ball for over 33 minutes, and had 22 first downs to the Sun Devils’ 25. Colorado was even on the plus-side on penalties, committing only six for 35 yards (to 11 for 106 for Arizona State).

What stood out in the final statistics, though, were the Buffs’ five turnovers (to one for the Sun Devils), and 0-for-3 in red-zone opportunities (with Arizona State going 5-for-5).

“I understand we’re playing short-handed and I understand it’s not the best circumstances for us,” said Colorado head coach Jon Embree. “That still doesn’t change your mindset. My mindset is to go out there and win in spite of it. You can find a million reasons why you can’t, the goal is to go out there and find the one reason you can go out there and do it.”

For the loss, Embree was willing to take some of the blame, but he also called out his players. “I put a lot on myself, but at the same time you have to want to do it … We have some people who are comfortable with the results, that’s just the facts. We are comfortable at times with what happens. So I am trying to create a culture and environment where that isn’t the case, and we’ll keep working on that, and keep coaching the guys who want to do it … The other ones … we’ll just have to keep working them out.”

Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen seemed to agree with his head coach. “We don’t like it, espcially the seniors,” said Hansen. “There are some guys who are just okay with wearing the jersey. That’s wrong and that’s what has to change. We have to change that culture around here. We want guys who want to win, who want to play for the University of Colorado, who want to see the Buffaloes play for championships, rather than having guys who are just okay with being out there.”

Up next: USC, coming off a triple-overtime 56-48 loss to No. 6 Stanford. Shackled by NCAA sanctions, the Trojans were not eligible for the inaugural Pac-12 title game, making the Stanford game their de facto bowl game. That the Trojans lost would mean little to the pundits, who will see the USC game as a fifth-consecutive blowout loss for Colorado.

 

Game Notes –

– Arizona State now has a 3-0 record all-time against Colorado, with all three games being played since 2006;

– The loss was the seventh straight against a ranked team. The last win for Colorado over a ranked team coming in 2009 v. Kansas State. Against ranked opponents on the road, the losing streak was extended to 18 games (UCLA, 2002);

– 61 players made the trip to Tempe (70 are allowed under NCAA rules), with 55 seeing action;

– Senior offensive lineman Shawn Daniels saw his first action of 2011 (on kicks). Daniels last played in the 2010 season opener against Colorado State, but has had foot and calf injuries since;

– Junior defensive back Vince Ewing also saw his first action of the season, having been out since last fall after knee surgery;

– Senior defensive back Travis Sandersfeld returned to action for the first time since being injured in practice on September 13th. Sansderfeld was credited with four tackles, and forced the fumble which led to a Colorado touchdown;

– Red-shirt freshman defensive back Josh Moten’s fumble return for a touchdown was the first non-offensive touchdown of the season for Colorado, and the first since Michael Sipili returned a fumble for a score against Iowa State last season. (Colorado opponents have two non-offensive scores, one each by Stanford and Oregon);

– Senior wide receiver Logan Gray had his best day as a Buff. The transfer from Georgia had four catches for 93 yards (including a 53-yarder);

– Senior wide receiver Toney Clemons matched his career-high for catches (8), and was one yard shy of his career-high for yardage (97);

– Sophomore running back Josh Ford had five carry carries before the Arizona State game (for 28 yards). Against the Sun Devils, Ford had ten carries for 73 yards, all coming in the fourth quarter;

– Two more players had their first career starts, raising the total for the year to 21. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Nick Hirschman had three series behind center, going for 16 snaps and 90 yards of total offense. Josh Moten contributed two tackles, and had a fumble return for a touchdown;

– Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen, with 285 yards passing, moved into fifth place on the all-time passing list, with 4,851 yards, passing John Hessler (4,788 yards) and Mike Moschetti (4,797 yards). Hansen also became just the seventh player in Colorado history to attain over 5,000 yards of total offense (5,231).

– In the first nine games of 2011, Colorado has trailed 407:51 of game time, and has led for only 78:34.

 

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3 Replies to “Arizona State 48, Colorado 14”

  1. Based on the research I’ve done, the only other time that CU opponents have scored 30+ in 6 straight games was in 2003, not in 1983. In fact, in 2003, opponents scored 5 straight with 42 or more, another feat of ineptitude we might see matched this coming weekend (the 03 team went 1-4 in that stretch). We’ve already given up over 30 in 8 games this year, tying the most for a season in the last 50 years (as far back as I researched). We will most likely beat that record. Defensively, this is one of the 3 worst years in the last 50 along with 03 and 1980, and overall the worst team CU has fielded since 1980. To put how bad the defense is and how far we are from the top in perspective, we’ve given up 193 points in the last 4 games. The 1989 team (I think the best team in CU history) allowed only 150 the entire regular season, and 171 including the Orange Bowl.

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