November 1st – Boulder          Washington 38, Colorado 23

Colorado out-gained Washington (495 total yards to 442), had more first downs (24-14), and had a ten-minute advantage in time of possession (35:04 – 24:56), but an interception return for a touchdown and a punt return for another score turned the tide, as the Huskies out-scored the Buffs 21-0 to end the game, pulling away for a 38-23 victory.

Sefo Liufau went 36-for-52 for 314 yards and two touchdowns, extending his school record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 17 (and games with multiple touchdown passes to 12), but it was an interception Liufau threw for a Washington touchdown late in the third quarter which turned the momentum of the game. Colorado had four turnovers in all – with three in succession in the third quarter – keeping the Buffs winless in Pac-12 play.

Nelson Spruce continued to add to his record-setting season. His 13 catches for 138 yards gave him 90 for the year, breaking the single season record for catches, held for one year by Paul Richardson (83 in 2013). Michael Adkins had 109 yards on 13 carries, giving the sophomore his second consecutive 100-yard game.

Much was written, the week leading up to the game against Washington, about how the Buffs needed to start fast against a Pac-12 opponent. The Buffs had been out-scored 17-0 early by Arizona State, 28-0 by USC, and 17-0 by UCLA, coming back against both the Sun Devils and Bruins before falling late. In all, Colorado had been out-scored 93-45 in the first quarter in the first eight games, and were looking for a change.

They got one against Washington.

The Buff defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, with the CU offense taking over at its 30-yard line. A week after going 3-for-16 on third down conversions, the Buffs went three-for-three on third down to take the early lead. An 11-yard run on third-and-two kept the drive alive, followed by a nine yard completion from Liufau to Spruce on third-and-four. Then, on third-and-four at the Washington 30, the Huskies blitzed. The Buff offensive line held, giving time to Liufau to loft a 30-yard touchdown pass to D.D. Goodson. Less than five minutes into the game, Colorado had a 7-0 lead.

The Huskies were not intimidated, however, marching quickly down the field on the ensuing possession. A 48-yard completion gave Washington a first-and-goal at the CU ten yard line. On second down, however, the snap to quarterback Cyler Miles was mishandled, with the fumble being recovered by sophomore linebacker Kenneth Olugbode at the CU 13-yard line.

Taking advantage of the break, the Buffs responded. On the second play of the drive, Michael Adkins sprung loose for a 43-yard gain to the Washington 39 yard line. Two plays later, Adkins took a Sefo Liufau pass for a 16-yard gain to the Washington 11. There, however, the drive stalled, and Will Oliver was called upon for a 32-yard field goal attempt. The senior’s effort was true, and the Buffs were up, 10-0, with 3:36 to play in the first quarter.

Shaq Thompson, the All-American linebacker turned running back, ripped off a 39-yard run on Washington’s next play from scrimmage. Five plays later, on fourth-and-one at the CU 24, Thompson got not only a first down, but a touchdown, bursting through the CU secondary to make it a 10-7 game late in the fist quarter.

Rather than relent, though, the Colorado offense came through again, with its third score in three possessions. A 39-yard completion to Nelson Spruce was the big play, setting the Buffs up with a first-and-goal at the Washington five yard line. Two Michael Adkins runs gained four yards, with Liufau hitting red-shirt freshman fullback George Frazier in the back of the end zone for a one yard score and a 17-7 Colorado lead early in the second quarter.

The teams traded three-and-outs before Washington broke through. The Huskies used a 65-yard run by Thompson, who would finish with 174 yards on the afternoon, to get to the Buff 25-yard line. Three plays, though, netted only six yards, with the Huskies settling for a 35-yard field goal by Cameron Van Winkle. Colorado 17, Washington 10, midway through the second quarter.

On the Buffs’ next possession, Sefo Liufau tried to pull the ball back in as he tried to pass. Instead, the ball came loose, recovered by Washington at the CU 33-yard line. Two plays later, though, Washington quarterback Cyler Miles returned the favor, fumbling the ball back to the Buffs, with CU taking over at its 37 after sophomore defensive end Jimmie Gilbert fell on the fumbled snap.

A ten-play, 43-yard drive ensued, kept alive by a 24-yard completion from Liufau to Goodson on a third-and-four. The Buffs made it as far as the Husky 16-yard line before being stopped. Will Oliver was called upon again, and again Oliver was true, making a 34-yard field goal. The Buffs were called for an illegal formation, forcing Oliver to try again, this time from 39 yards out. Unfazed, Oliver made the kick again, making it a 20-10 game with just over two minutes to play before halftime.

Hopes that the Buffs would be able to take a two-score lead into the break were quickly dashed after Miles hit Thompson for 41 yards, setting the Huskies up in the CU red zone. Four plays later, Miles hit Kendyl Taylor for a nine yard score in the final minute before the half.

Halftime score: Colorado 20, Washington 17

The decision to defer to the second half looked like a great decision after the Buffs took the second half kickoff and scored. Completions of 16 and 12 yards from Liufau to Spruce moved the ball into Husky territory. Stalled at the Washington 31-yard line, Will Oliver was called upon to extend the Buff lead. Oliver made the 49-yarder, a season long, to make it a 23-17 game four minutes into the third quarter.

And so ended the Buffs’ offensive production for the afternoon.

Washington quickly responded, taking its first possession of the second half deep into Colorado territory. A 28-yard completion, followed by a 22-yard run by quarterback Cyler Miles, gave the Huskies another red zone opportunity. A 13-yard completion to DiAndre Campbell appeared to give Washington a first-and-goal at the CU one yard line, but Campbell fumbled the ball, stripped by sophomore defensive back John Walker and recovered in the end zone by red-shirt freshman Derek McCartney.

Up by six points and armed with momentum, the Colorado offense shifted into high gear. A ten-yard completion to Nelson Spruce was immediately followed by a nine yard run by Phillip Lindsay. The red-shirt freshman again got the call on the next play … the play of the game. Lindsay broke through the Washington line and had a seven yard gain … before being stripped of the ball.

Washington recovered at the CU 46 yard line, and the game was never the same again. The Huskies needed only five plays to take the lead, with Cyler Miles hitting Dante Pettis for a 28-yard touchdown. With 5:38 to play in the third quarter, Washington had its first lead, 24-23.

It was 31-23 less than a minute later.

On the Buffs’ second play after the Washington score, Sefo Liufau threw his Pac-12 worst 12th interception, hitting Washington linebacker Travis Feeney in stride. A 30-yard jog to the end zone later, it was now a 31-23 game.

The wheels came off completely for the Buffs on the ensuing kickoff, with Phillip Lindsay fumbling the ball away for the second time after retuning the kickoff out to the 31-yard line.  Backs against the wall, the Colorado defense held, with Washington failing to pick up a first down.

A three-and-out by the CU offense gave Washington the ball back at midfield, but, again, the Colorado defense held. Taking over after a touchback, the Buffs pushed out to the 40-yard line before punting. Darragh O’Neill’s punt went for 47 yards, but it was not high enough, allowing for a return. The Buffs’ special teams blew the coverage, with Dante Pettis taking the return 87 yards for a Washington touchdown.

There was still 13:10 on the game clock, and the Buffs were only down two scores, at 38-23, but many of the 35,633 CU faithful on hand had seen enough, and began to filter out. An offensive pass interference call on the next possession halted the Buffs’ next possession, with the Colorado defense producing a three-and-out to give the offense one last chance.

An 18-play, 66-yard drive ensued. A quick snap to Nelson Spruce gave the Buffs one fourth down conversion, with Liufau hitting tight end Kyle Slavin for 18 yards on a fourth-and-eight to keep the drive alive. The third fourth down attempts – on a fourth-and-eight at the Washington nine yard line, however, resulted in a sack and a turnover on downs with 1:52 to play, ending the last Buff threat.

Final score: Washington 38, Colorado 23

“That was a tough loss”, said Mike MacIntyre, who fell to 1-14 in Pac-12 contests. “It was one where we had all of the momentum going in our direction at one point.  I feel like Washington definitely won the game, but I also feel like we gave them the game.  That was very disheartening for our guys.  We’ve been taking care of the ball pretty well in terms of fumbles, but that hurt us today.  I thought we stopped the bleeding after our second fumble when we stopped them, but we had a pick-six and a punt return for a touchdown.  That really kind of gave them the football game.  We just have to keep working, keep fighting and keep trying to find a way to win.”

The statistics page belied the final outcome.

– Colorado had 495 yards of total offense against a team which had held every other Pac-12 offense (except Oregon) under 400 yards. The Colorado offense had 24 first downs, with the CU defense giving up only 14 first downs to the Washington offense;

– The Buff offense, a week after going 3-for-16 on third downs against UCLA, went 11-of-21 on third down against Washington (and converted two of the ten misses on third downs by converting on fourth downs). Washington, meanwhile, went 2-of-11 on third downs;

– The CU offensive line gave up only three sacks to a UW defensive line which was second in the nation in sacks coming into the game (with one of the “sacks” coming on Sefo Liufau’s pass/fumble in the second quarter);

– The Colorado defense, after stopping opposing offenses from scoring in the red zone only once all season (34-for-35), twice prevented scores in the red zone by the Huskies (two fumble recoveries).

– For just the 35th time in school history, the Buffs had a 100-yard rusher (Michael Adkins, 109 yards) and 100-yard receiver (Nelson Spruce, 138 yards) … but the Buffs couldn’t find a way to post a score in the final 26 minutes of the game.

– Game Notes –

– The win gave Washington a 9-5-1 record in the series, including a 4-0 run with Colorado as a member of the Pac-12. When the Buffs took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, it marked the first time Colorado had held a lead against Washington since joining the conference.

– The punt return allowed for a touchdown was the first against the Buffs since the 2013 opener against Colorado State.

– The 495 yards of total offense marked the eighth consecutive game over 400 yards for the Colorado offense, a first in Colorado history, and one shy of the season high of nine set by the 1993, 1994, and 1995 Buff teams.

– Nelson Spruce set the single season record for receptions, as his 13 catches for 138 yards gave him 90 for the year, besting the 83 receptions by Paul Richardson in 2013.

– Spruce’s 5th 100-yard game of the season gave him 1,002 yards for the year, marking the eighth time in CU history that a receiver had topped 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

– Sefo Liufau set the new school record for completions in a season, with 274. The old record was 241 completions, set by Joel Klatt in 2005.

– With three field goals and two extra points, Will Oliver moved his career points total to 257 passing Bobby Anderson (254) for second place on the all-time scoring list.

– Shay Fields had two receptions, giving him 40 for the season, one better than the old freshman receptions record of 39, set by Chris McLemore in 1982.

8 Replies to “Washington 38, Colorado 23”

  1. it was just the scenario I was looking for this week. Get the early lead and battle or way to victory. Too bad it didn’t finish the way it was supposed to.
    The special teams coach had better have very serious talk to punt/kickoff cover teams about not losing outside contain. That was pitiful and the worst part was there was a huge gap in the middle also.

  2. I echo CJBuff and my own comments from the previous weekend. I personally would like to see Sefo succeed. Great kid, tough, lots of heart, resiliency, and can rally the team. However, it seems that every game, there is one huge situation that either he does not make the play that could win the game or it is a game killer gaffe like the pick 6. These situations are when something is on the line or the tide is starting to turn against the Buffs. I’m not sure if this is simply a lack of maturity and playing experience or how he is wired under pressure. The other question (not criticism) is whether he is the guy under this offense. Macintyre and Lindgren inherited Sefo. Maybe they need a QB that they bring in that better fits what they are trying to do. Again, I have no idea, just an armchair guy but something needs to change at that position for next year or we will not turn the corner. I have been in the stands for a long time as an alum and fan but yesterday was simply disheartening after seeing the good play in the first half. Granted, Sefo was not the only one who made big mistakes but the trend, in my opinion, continues. I will be there again for the Utah game and sure hope that we can end the season with a win. I think the next two games will be brutal. I would like to see at least a second half each game with Gehrke at the helm if no other reason than to give him reps which will help for next year.

  3. This team continues to play with a great deal of guts and heart, but they simply don’t have the talent to overcome the 2 or 3 bonehead plays they make every game. If someone had told me the defense would get 3 turnovers I would have said we win the game for sure. But we gave them 4 turnovers ourselves plus a punt return TD. This was a very winnable game but we just completely blew it. Unfortunately it was the last best chance for a win this season. I like what coach MM is doing in general but there were clock management issues again tin this game. We should have had time to get at least a FG at the end of the first half but seemed to be just happy to go to the locker room with a 3 point lead. And at the end of the game even if we had scored that drive had used up more than 4 minutes and we would have had almost no time left to try for another score to tie it up. It seems like for every step forward there is at least another one backward. Starting to wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel…

    1. Good point Ben. We need more speed and better linemen. I don’t care what their star ranking is we just need better athletes.

  4. Lindsay’s fumble on the kick-off return was caused by a helmet to helmet hit that was not called – it was not pointed out by the announcers – is that not a penalty in college football???

    1. Pretty sure helmet to helmet hits are only penalized on “defenseless receivers” and quarterbacks in the pocket. As a ball carrier in that situation, Lindsay would not be subject to that rule. He just needs to hold on to the ball, bottom line.

  5. In the 3rd quarter I was thinking this could be the first Pac12 game without a Liufau interception, and that spells a win to me. But alas, the young QB stared down Spruce, as he had done pretty much the entire quarter, and was picked off. Game over. Every game there is a different mistake: a fumble here or blown coverage there, which alone makes it difficult to win but doesn’t lose the game by itself. But also every game there is a consistent mistake: Liufau throws an interception, and this combined with the other random mistakes are game killers for the Buffs. Guess which one should be easiest to fix?

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