November 2nd – at UCLA            No. 17 UCLA 45, Colorado 23

Colorado had almost as many total yards as did No. 17 UCLA (412 total yards to 381). The Buffs also did an effective job at keeping the ball away from the Bruins’ high powered offense, holding the ball for almost 36 minutes of game time.

But big plays by the Bruins, missed opportunities by the Buffs, and a costly turnover doomed Colorado to its 13th straight conference defeat, falling to UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 45-23.

Sefo Liufau, in his first road start, completed 25-of-36 passes for 247 yards and a one touchdown (no interceptions). Christian Powell, carrying the load with Michael Adkins out with a concussion, had 22 carries for 97 yards. Paul Richardson, though, was held to 70 yards on seven catches, with one reception going for a touchdown.

At game’s end, the Buffs were still standing, still fighting.

Though once again, the scoreboard hardly reflected the effort.

For most of the first quarter … Colorado played about as well as it had played against a Pac-12 foe in some time.

Actually, that was true for most of the game.

And it still wasn’t close to being good enough.

Starting at their own 15 to open the contest, the Buffs turned to Christian Powell, who gained 13 yards and a first down on his first two carries. Two plays, later, on third-and-six, quarterback Sefo Liufau connected with wide receiver D.D. Goodson for a 28-yard gain to the UCLA 40. Faced with another third-and-six two plays later, Liufau hit tight end Kyle Slavin for eight yards and another first down to the UCLA 28-yard line.

There the drive stalled, however, and the Buffs’ efforts went for naught when kicker Will Oliver missed a 45-yard field goal.

The Colorado defense, though, also came to play, forcing a three-and-out on the Bruins’ first possession. The Colorado offense responded with a three-and-out of the their own, giving the ball back to UCLA at their 12-yard line. The CU defense again stood tall, however, forcing yet another three-and-out.

The Buffs then put together the first scoring drive of the game, aided by UCLA penalties. The drive got a boost from the start, with a facemask called on the punt return by Nelson Spruce. A ten-yard pass from Liufau to Goodson gave the Buffs one first down, a pass interference penalty against the Bruins another. A seven yard completion to Paul Richardson put the Buffs in the UCLA redzone, but there the Buffs again stalled. On third-and-goal at the six, Liufau overthrew D.D. Goodson for a sure touchdown, and the Buffs had to settle for another field goal attempt.

This time Will Oliver was true, with Oliver’s 23-yard field goal giving the Buffs their first lead of the game, 3-0, with less than a minute to play in the first quarter.

The first quarter was about as good as any Buff fan could have hoped. Colorado had moved the ball on two of three drives, and had forced three-and-outs from the Bruins on both of their drives.

Unfortunately for CU and the Buff Nation, 2013 was a season of “about as good as could have been hoped”.

Two plays after Oliver gave Colorado the lead, UCLA took it for themselves.

A 76-yard pass from quarterback Brett Hundley to wide receiver Devin Fuller on UCLA’s second play from scrimmage was all it took to wake up the Rose Bowl crowd and give UCLA a 7-3 lead.

The Buffs did not fold, however.

Far from it.

Instead, the Colorado offense put together a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive of their own. An 11-yard completion from Liufau to Nelson Spruce and another completion to Richardson for 10 yards kept the drive going, but it was a 38-yard swing pass from Liufau to running back Tony Jones down the Bruin seven-yard line which was the highlight. There Liufau hit Paul Richardson on a seven yard touchdown, and the Buffs once again had the lead.

Colorado 10, UCLA 7, with 11:04 to play in the first half.

The Buffs couldn’t stand prosperity, though, as the Bruins responded with a scoring drive to retake the lead. Covering 68 yards in eight plays, UCLA only faced one third down on the drive, with Brett Hundley running the ball in from 11 yards out with 7:49 to play before half.

UCLA 14, Colorado 10.

Still a game.

Then a disaster – the type of disaster which tends to ruin games for 27-point underdogs – struck the Buffs.

Ryan Severson, who had been having an excellent season as a return man for Colorado, fumbled the UCLA kickoff. The Bruins took over at the CU 14-yard line, and, three plays later, had a 21-10 lead. A six-yard pass from Hundley to Fuller did the trick, and the rout was on.

But, once again, the Buffs did not play the willing patsy.

Colorado cobbled together a ten-play, 52-yard drive which included a defensive holding call for one first down, then a roughing the kicker penalty for another. A ten-yard completion from Liufau to Richardson got the Buffs within range, with Will Oliver hitting a 47-yard field goal with 1:16 to play before halftime.

UCLA was not satisfied with the score, however, and quickly moved the ball down the field. A holding call derailed the drive, and the Buffs were spared a greater deficit at the break when kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 45-yard field goal was missed at the gun.

Halftime score: UCLA 24, Colorado 13.

Throughout the first half of the 2013 season, the third quarter was unkind to Colorado. The Buffs had been outscored 69-20 in the third quarter through the first seven games of the season.

Make that 83-20 through the first eight games.

Any hopes of a Colorado comeback were quickly dashed as UCLA took the third quarter kickoff and marched smartly down the field. The Bruins took 12 plays to cover 70 yards, with quarterback Brett Hundley taking the ball in from the one yard line. UCLA 31, Colorado 13.

The CU offense did have a partial response, but, as was the case with their first drive of the first half, the first drive of the second half bore no fruit. A 47-yard drive, which included three completions from Liufau to Nelson Spruce, ended at the UCLA 28-yard line, where Will Oliver missed his second 45-yard field goal attempt of the evening.

The teams then traded punts, but the Bruins gained good yardage in the exchange (UCLA’s punt went for 48 yards; Darragh O’Neill’s went for 24). A four-play, 48-yard drive, culminated with a Damien Thigpen touchdown run of five yards, removed all doubt about the final outcome.

UCLA 38, Colorado 13, with 1:39 to play in the third quarter.

The Buffs were not ready to call it a night, however. The CU offense put together a 75-yard touchdown drive, which included two Liufau-to-Richardson connections of 11 and 14 yards, and a roughing the passer penalty. Tony Jones finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to give the Buffs a positive start to the fourth quarter.

UCLA 38, Colorado 20, with 12:20 to play in the game.

Not content to chew clock with runs, the Bruins responded with a drive which included passes on five of the six plays. The drive was halted at the CU 28, with Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 45-yard field goal boosting the lead to 41-20.

Colorado, which had its best offensive output against a Pac-12 team in five tries under Mike MacIntyre, again had a successful drive. The Buffs went 60 yards – with 30 of those courtesy of UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. The Butkus Award favorite had two successive personal fouls called on him, moving the Buffs into scoring range. The Buffs were able to edge just into the red zone, with Will Oliver hitting a 37-yard field goal for his third three-pointer of the night.

UCLA 38, Colorado 23.

Down two scores with just over six minutes to play, the Buffs went for an onside kick. The effort was unsuccessful, and the short field was just too tempting for the Bruins. UCLA needed only five plays to cover the 47 yards, with Devin Fuller getting his third touchdown of the night from seven yards out.

Not exactly the same as the other four losses in Pac-12 play, but the final scoreboard looked depressingly familiar.

Final score: No. 17 UCLA 45, Colorado 23.

Despite the final score, CU coach Mike MacIntyre was in a positive mood after the game. “I saw great fight and great effort”, said MacIntyre. “I thought our coaching staff had the players very well prepared. We played a really good football team tonight and I hope that one day people are saying that about us. I did see a lot of improvement out there, especially in our quarterback. The way he competes and the way he keeps fighting are giving our whole team a lot of hope. Our performance tonight against a top-20 team shows that we’re making progress and I think that gives everybody a little more confidence. The players listen to the coaches a little bit more, the coaches think they’re doing the right thing a little bit more and it just keeps you more and more confident. The players and coaches in that locker room are really down right now, but they also have a fight and resilience to them and they’ll bounce back.”

Colorado lost by three touchdowns on the scoreboard, but the stats sheet told a different story. UCLA out-gained Colorado, but only by 412 total yards to 381. The 412 yards were over 100 yards lower than against any previous Pac-12 opponent (532 by Oregon State), with the 381 yards the best for the Buffs against a conference foe in the five game Mike MacIntyre era.

True freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau went 25-for-36 for a season-best 247 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Despite throwing for more yards in each successive game, Liufau was not satisfied with his effort. “It’s tough to get there, especially playing in the league we are,” Liufau said. “Everyone is good, from top to bottom. We’re frustrated that we’re not winning – coaches, fans, team. But our team is showing a lot of heart right now and fighting more, which is good.”

Christian Powell became the 50th Buff to eclipse 1,000 career yards rushing in going for 97 yards on 22 carries. Paul Richardson led a balanced receiving corps, getting seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, while three other Buffs had at least 40 yards receiving – Nelson Spruce (six for 49 yards); D.D. Goodson (three for 42) and Tony Jones (three for 42).

Up next for the Buffs … 5-3 Washington, in Seattle. The Huskies had the benefit of sitting at home Saturday night, enjoying their bye week while their next two opponents, Colorado and UCLA, fought it out in the Rose Bowl.

Game Notes –

– Sophomore cornerback Jeffrey Hall made his first career start, subbing for cornerback Kenneth Crawley, who sprained his ankle in the Thursday practice before the game (Crawley listed as “day-to-day” for the Washington game).

– Sefo Liufau continued to gain passing yardage along with confidence. With each game, Liufau has passed for more yards, starting with 169 against Arizona State, 198 against Charleston-Southern, 212 against Arizona, then 247 against UCLA. Liufau has thrown one touchdown pass in each of his first four games.

Paul Richardson … His seven catches for 70 yards against the Bruins gave him 57 catches for 984 yards on the season. Richardson finished the game within 21 catches of the all-time season record (78 catches by D.J. Hackett in 2003), and within 14 yards of becoming the seventh Buff to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season (the all-time record being 1,149 by Charles E. Johnson in 1992). Richardson’s 8th touchdown catch of the season pulled him into a tie for fourth place in that category, well within sights of the single season record of 11 (Derek McCoy, 2003).

– Addison Gillam also continued his march into the CU record books. With six tackles against UCLA, the freshman moved his total for the season up to 80, just two behind Jordon Dizon for second, and within five of the all-time freshman record of 85, set by Matt Russell in 1993.

– As noted above, against UCLA, Christian Powell became the 50th Buff to surpass 1,000 career yards rushing. His 97 yards gave him a new total of 1,067, good enough for 44th on the all-time list.

– Sophomore wide receiver Nelson Spruce also continued his climb up the record charts. His four catches gave him 80 for his career, moving him into the top 25 in that category (t-21st). His 860 career receiving yards are good enough for 31st on the all-time list.

– Junior kicker Will Oliver’s five field goal attempts against UCLA were a career-high. With 11 points against the Bruins, Oliver jumped from 14th to 9th on the all-time scoring list with 169 career points. Oliver also moved into fourth on the all-time scorer’s list for kickers.

6 Replies to “No. 17 UCLA 45, Colorado 23”

  1. I know we only have 3 wins but somehow I feel a lot better this year than last. So far I am satisfied with the job Coach Mac and his staff have done this year.

    I only see one more realistic chance for a win this year when we host the Cal Bears. With continued progress with recruiting more wins will come.

  2. Considering the opponent, 17th ranked, and playing on the road, I would say that this was the best performance in a conference game by the Buffs since joining the Pac-12. A win against California is a real possibility.

  3. Sefo looks to be the type of QB who could run a read-option play. Is there some reason they never call a QB run with him?

  4. Great effort by the BUFFS. We were in the game and played for a whole 60 minutes. The team showed improvement by playing a good game on the road.

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