September 1st – at Denver          Colorado 41, Colorado State 27

Colorado matched its win total for all of 2012 with a season-opening victory over Colorado State, 41-27.

In the first game of the Mike MacIntyre era, junior quarterback Connor Wood became just the third Buff quarterback in CU history to pass for 400 yards in a season opener, going 33-of-46 for 400 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came on bombs to junior wide receiver Paul Richardson, who became the first Buff receiver to post two career 200-yard receiving games, collecting ten catches for 208 yards.

Heroics were not limited to the offensive side of the ball, however, as the much-maligned Colorado defense, which gave up almost 500 yards a game in total offense the previous season, held Colorado State to 295 yards. The defense also contributed a touchdown of its own, with Greg Henderson going 53 yards for a score on a fumble caused by senior captain Chidera Uzo-Diribe.

“I’m just excited for our seniors to start the season off like this with a great rivalry game,” said Mike MacIntyre, who became just the second CU coach in the past 80 seasons to post a victory in his first game. “I think our conditioning paid off tremendously, the way we practice, our repetitions, if you come and stay at practice you know what we do, we practice really hard, we don’t have picnics, I’ll tell you that so I appreciate what our kids do.”’

The 2013 Rocky Mountain Showdown started off like it just might be a picnic for the Buffs. After holding the Rams to one first down on the game’s opening drive, the Buffs took over on their own 18-yard line. On second down, after a Christian Powell run for four yards, Connor Wood dropped back for his first pass of the season. Flushed from the pocket, Wood looked like he could run for a first down. Instead, he pulled up and found Paul Richardson alone deep in the CSU secondary. Richardson was so open that, as B.G. Brooks for put it, “P-Rich couldn’t have been any more by himself behind the Rams secondary unless he had been quarantined”.

7-0, Colorado, with 12:41 still to play in the first quarter.

After the teams traded punts, Colorado took over on its own 26-yard line. The Buffs put together a 17-play drive, but the drive stalled inside the CSU ten yard line. Colorado settled for a 22-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

On the second to last play of the quarter, CSU quarterback Garret Grayson and wide receiver Joe Hansley connected on a 40-yard pass and new life for the Rams. The Buff defense stiffened, though, and the Rams had to be content with a 39-yard field goal for the first points of the game early in the second quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, Colorado put together a seven-play, 63-yard drive. Facing a third-and-ten at the CSU 18-yard line, Wood found wide receiver D.D. Goodson in the corner of the end zone for the junior’s first career touchdown.

17-3, Colorado, with 3:48 to play before halftime.

The Rams were not finished, however, retaliating with a 74-yard touchdown drive of their own, finished off with a seven yard touchdown run by Kapri Bibbs. Colorado fans, fully aware that the Buffs had raced out to a two-score lead in the 2012 RMS, only to see a Ram touchdown late in the second quarter turn the momentum of the game around, shifted nervously in their seats.

Taking over at their 25-yard line with 1:13 to play in the half, the Buffs seemed content to run out the clock, with Tony Jones running up the middle for three yards. The CSU coaches, sensing an opportunity, called time out.

The strategy backfired, though, when CU converted on third down when Connor Wood was hit helmet-to-helmet by CSU linebacker Cory James. The fifteen yards gave the Buffs a fresh set of downs, and the CU offense capitalized. Completions to Goodson, Richardson and Nelson Spruce moved the ball to the CSU 24-yard line. As time expired, Will Oliver hit on his second field goal of the game from 41 yards out.

Halftime score: Colorado 20, Colorado State 10.

As well as the first half had opened, the second half opened just as poorly for the Buffs.

Colorado received the opening kickoff, and promptly went three-and-out. Darragh O’Neill’s punt was fielded by Joe Hansley, who dodged and outran the CU punt coverage for a 74-yard touchdown. Suddenly, what had seemed like a game dominated by the Buffs (313 yards of total offense in the first half to 144 for the Rams; 16 first downs to seven for the Rams) was now a dog fight.

Colorado 20, Colorado State 17, with 12:51 still to play in the third quarter.

The Buffs’ offense, despite being aided by two 15-yard penalties on the Ram defense, could penetrate no further than the CSU 36-yard line. Rather than try a 53-yard field goal, the Buffs punted the ball away, with Darragh O’Neill pinning the Rams back on their nine yard line.

The CU defense did their job, forcing a three-and-out, giving the Buff offense good field position. This time, the Colorado offense took advantage of the good field position, patching together a nine-play drive which resulted in a 44-yard Will Oliver field goal with 4:10 left in the third quarter.

Any positive feelings for the Buff share of the announced crowd of 59,601 may have taken from the field goal were quickly quashed, as Thomas Coffman returned the kickoff 84 yards to the Colorado 16. Three Kapri Bibbs runs resulted in a Ram touchdown, and Colorado State’s first lead of the game, 24-23, with 2:51 to play in the third quarter.

The teams then exchanged punts, with CU taking over at its own 44 yard line as the fourth quarter began.

Five plays netted 21 yards, with the Colorado coaching staff facing much the same dilemma as they had in the third quarter. In the third, with CU facing a fourth down at the CSU 36-yard line, the Buffs punted. Now, down for the first time in the game, facing a fourth down at the CSU 35-yard line, coach MacIntyre decided to give Will Oliver a shot at a field goal. Oliver responded with a 52-yarder, tying the longest of his career, restoring the Buffs to the lead.

Colorado 26, Colorado State 24. Still 13:07 to play.

Two plays for the Rams took the ball quickly to midfield, with the Ram Nation fully expecting the CSU offense to restore the Rams to the lead. Instead, on a reception by Joe Hansley, senior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe caught the back from behind and forced a fumble. Defensive back Greg Henderson scooped up the ball, taking the fumble back 53 yards for a Colorado touchdown.

Colorado 33, Colorado State 24. Order restored with 11:12 to play.

The Rams, though, were not done. After the teams traded punts, Colorado State pieced together a 13-play drive covering 67 yards. The Ram drive was thwarted, however, when Juda Parker sacked Garret Grayson at the CU 13-yard line. The Rams had scored, but it was not a touchdown, and the drive had taken over five minutes of precious game clock.

Still, it was a six point game, at 33-27, when the Buffs took over after a touchback. Everyone in the stadium was expected the Buffs to try and run up the middle, forcing Colorado State to use up its time outs. Instead, Connor Wood found Paul Richardson in a botched coverage (the corner thought there was zone coverage, with help behind, but the safety was playing man-to-man). Wood hit Richardson in stride, with the junior going 75 yards and a clinching touchdown.

“We weren’t trying to take a shot on the first play” said Connor Wood, “but the way the defense played it, that’s how it worked out, Paul [Richardson] was able to go over the top (of the defense). We were going to be conservative, but when the defense shows you something you have to take it and it worked out our way.”

The two-point conversion – a pass from Wood to Goodson – gave Colorado a full two-touchdown lead, at 41-27.

Still, the game was not over, as 3:27 remained to be played. The Rams marched to the CU 20-yard line on their next drive, but a fourth down pass fell incomplete. Three plays by the CU offense took away two of the Rams’ three time outs, with the game ending with long-snapper Ryan Iverson recovering a muffed punt return.

Final score: Colorado 41, Colorado State 27

“I was really impressed with Connor today, that’s what we’ve been seeing, I knew he had the ability to do it, I’m very proud of him,” said Mike MacIntyre after the game. On the day, Wood went 33-for-46 for 400 yards and three touchdowns. In all, Colorado had 509 yards of total offense to just 295 for Colorado State.

The defense was led by freshman Addison Gillam, who was in the starting lineup at linebacker. Gillam led the Buffs with 14 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. “He’s a player” said MacIntyre. “I’ve always known he was a player since he was a junior in high school. He was up in the hills of California (Palo Cedro, Calif.), nobody looked at him but us (San Jose coaching staff), and I’m glad he’s here … I thought he might pee down his leg the first game, but he didn’t. I told him to go to the restroom a couple times before we went out.”

Central Arkansas from the Southland Conference now loomed as CU’s next opponent. The Bears won in a walk-over against The Incarnate Word, 58-7,  in their opener, and were ranked in the top ten nationally in the FCS polls. Coming on the heels of eight victories by FCS teams over FBS teams, including North Dakota State’s win over Kansas State, and Eastern Washington’s win over No. 25 Oregon State, the 1-0 Buffs had to remain focused.

“It’s just one game,” said MacIntyre about the win over CSU. “It was great, but we have to keep doing it. What I kept telling (the team) was, and I always do, ‘just keep playing, enjoy playing. They’re going to make plays on you, they’re on scholarship too, but we have to keep making more plays, we have to keep fighting, we have to keep doing all the fundamentals, we have to keep communicating, we have to keep staying pumped up.’ I think they did that, and they’ll continue to do that. If we can just keep weathering those storms and I think we’ll have a good football team. We passed the test today and we have to regroup and pass the test next week. Now, they have to go around and instead of being told how bad they are, they’ll be told how good they are for a week. So, we have to reverse that, ‘don’t eat the cheese’, so to speak, ‘don’t eat the cheese, get ready to play’.”


Game Notes –

– The victory gave Colorado a 62-21-2 lead in the series against Colorado State. Despite all of the talk about how close the series had become in recent years, the Buffs were now victorious in three of the last four games in the RMS (with all three victories by two touchdowns or more). Colorado has now also won five of the previous seven games, eight of the last 11, and is 19-7 against the Rams since the series resumed in 1983 after a 25-year hiatus.

– The victory snapped an eight game losing streak for the Buffs, the longest losing streak entering a season in school history.

– Colorado held the Rams without a touchdown pass. The last time that happened? A school-record 36 games ago.

– Three players made their first career starts against Colorado State … freshman linebacker Addison Gillam, junior offensive lineman Kaiwi Crabb, and junior linebacker Woodson Greer

– Dating back to 1967, Colorado is now 24-1 in season openers when scoring first in the game.

– Mike MacIntyre becomes only the second CU head coach since Bunnie Oakes in 1932 to win in his debut (a span of 15 coaches, with the lone exception being Rick Neuheisel, who led the Buffs to a 43-7 romp over a ranked Wisconsin team in 1995).

– Connor Wood’s 400 yards passing marked just the third time a CU quarterback had opened the season surpassing that mark. The other two – Kordell Stewart, 409 yards v. CSU in 1992; Joel Klatt, 402 yards v. CSU in 2003.

– Wood threw 42 passes without an interception, the second highest total in school history (Tyler Hansen through 49 passes without an interception against Cal in 2011).

– Paul Richardson, with ten catches for 208 yards, became the first player to surpass the 200-yard mark twice in his career. In fact, other than Richardson’s two 200-yard games (he went for 284 against Cal in 2011), only two other players had accomplished the feat even once (Walter Stanley v. Texas Tech in 1981; Rae Carruth v. Missouri in 1996. Ironically, both players went for 222 yards).

– Richardson’s big day moved him from 25th to 20th on the all-time catches list (with 82), and from 21st to 10th in the all-time yardage list (with 1,277).

– Nice touch … The Buffs opened the game with a fullback on the field – not really a normal set up. The fullback earning his first career start at Colorado? Sophomore Jordan Murphy, a transfer from … Colorado State.

– Nelson Spruce just missed the 100-yard club … again. After collecting ten catches for 98 yards against Utah in the 2012 finale, Spruce had eight receptions for 99 yards against Colorado State.

– With his ten catches for 208 yards against Colorado State, wide receiver Paul Richardson pole vaulted his way up the all-time lists. Richardson moved into the top 20 all-time in receptions, with 83, passing, amongst others, the former No. 20, Jon Embree (80).

– Richardson also jumped from No. 21 to the top ten in all-time receiving yards. With 1,277 yards, Richardson jumped over, amongst others: Dusty Sprague (now No. 11), Mike Pritchard (12), Jon Embree (17), Toney Clemons (18) and Dave Logan (20).

– Kicker Will Oliver, with his 15 points against the Rams, moved into the top ten in all-time CU kick scoring. With 123 career points, Oliver moved from 14th to 9th on the all-time list. Oliver also moved up to No. 32 on the all-time scoring list, while Paul Richardson, with 80 points, moved up to No. 64 on that list.

– The official announced attendance for the 2013 Rocky Mountain Showdown was 59,601, with CU selling 32,779, CSU selling 18,169, with 5,032 coming from the Denver Broncos. It was the third straight year (and fourth of five) in which fewer than 60,000 seats were sold.

– CU did not commit a turnover in a season opener for the first time since 2000.

– The Buffs’ two-point conversion (a pass from Connor Wood to D.D. Goodson) was the first successful two-point conversion in three seasons.

– Colorado improved to 9-4-2 all-time in games played on Sundays.

– Connor Wood set a record for passing efficiency in a game with over 40 pass attempts. Wood went 33-for-46 for 400 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, a 166.3 passer rating. The old mark was 162.3, set by Koy Detmer v. CSU in 1996 (31-of-42, 364 yards, two touchdowns).


5 Replies to “Colorado 41, CSU 27”

  1. What a difference a new coaching staff makes. Offensively there appeared to be a plan of attack. Defensively, I was pleased with the pursuit and schemes. Just a good win.

  2. As I watched the game I feel the biggest difference between this team, and teams of the previous decade, was organization. They actually looked prepared for big situations. The substitution packages were fast and efficient, no time-outs were called due to slow play calling, etc…Not saying we’re there yet, but man it was fun to see essentially the same team as last year(exception Gilliam) look so organized and prepared. GO BUFFS!

  3. Great win for Coach Mac and company. Glad to see the offense and defense actually look like a D-1 team. CU has a long road to hoe but a good step in the right direction.

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