October 10th – at Arizona State          Arizona State 48, Colorado 23

Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici threw for 260 yards and five touchdowns as the Sun Devils took advantage of Colorado mistakes to cruise to a 48-23 victory in Tempe. Sefo Liufau threw for 389 yards for the Buffs, but his one touchdown pass was more than offset by an early interception and a fumble which led to ASU points.

The Buffs were close in yardage – 491 yards to 450 – and first downs – 21-to-19 – but fell behind 14-0 midway through the first quarter and never fully recovered. The loss left the Buffs with an 0-7 all-time record against Arizona State, together with a 13-game conference losing streak (dating back to November of 2013) and a 13-game road conference losing streak (dating back to September of 2012).

“Everything we’re doing, we’re just going to keep doing it”, said Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre, who fell to 1-19 in Pac-12 games. “Keep pushing with them, keep working with them, keep loving them, keep caring for them, keep believing in them. That’s what you do.  Find a way to uplift them and keep pushing them, but they’ve got to go out there and make the plays”.

When Colorado first ventured to Tempe as a member of the Pac-12 to play Arizona State, in 2011, the score at the end of the first quarter was 21-0, ASU … final score: Arizona State 48, Colorado 14.

On CU’s second trip to Tempe as a member of the Pac-12 to play Arizona State, in 2013, the score at the end of the first quarter was 25-0, ASU … final score: Arizona State 54, Colorado 13.

So what happened in the first quarter of the Buffs’ third trip to Tempe shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

After earning one first down on the first possession of the game, the Buffs punted the ball away, with Alex Kinney’s 36-yard punt coming to rest at the ASU nine yard line.

Four plays and 91 yards later, it was 7-0. A 38-yard pass (coupled with a 15-yard face mask penalty) set the Sun Devils up in CU territory. Two plays later, Buff linebacker Leo Jackson forced a fumble from ASU running back Demario Richard. Instead of being a momentum shifter for Colorado, the fumble was scooped up by Kody Kohl, who took the ball the final 28 yards for an Arizona State touchdown.

On the Buffs’ next possession, quarterback Sefo Liufau, after a pair of incompletions, threw an interception, with Kareem Orr returning the pick 30 yards to the Colorado 15-yard line. Five plays later, Kody Kohl had his second touchdown in three minutes, collecting a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Bercovici.

14-0, Arizona State, less than midway through the first quarter.

Instead of folding, though, the Buffs responded. A pair of Phillip Lindsay runs netted 17 yards before Liufau hit tight end Sean Irwin for a 42-yard gain to the ASU 16-yard line. On the next play, Lindsay went around right end for a 16-yard touchdown, making it a 14-7 game.

The Sun Devils quickly drove back into Colorado territory, but a Mike Bercovici pass was picked off by Ahkello Witherspoon, giving the Buffs the ball and the momentum.

For three plays.

The Colorado offense went backward on its ensuing drive, with Alex Kinney’s subsequent punt being blocked. The Sun Devils were set up at the Buff 11-yard line, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal. A victory of sorts for the Buff defense, but the lead was up to ten points, at 17-7, in the final minute of the first quarter.

After another three-and-out from the CU offense, the Sun Devils needed only two plays to extend their lead, with Bercovici hitting Tim White for a 38-yard touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

The teams traded punts throughout much of the remainder of the second quarter before the Buffs put together an 11-play, 72-yard drive late in the half. The Buffs made it as far as the ASU eight yard line before poor clock management ended the hopes for a touchdown. With five seconds remaining before the break, Diego Gonzalez hit a 27-yard field goal.

Halftime score: Arizona State 24, Colorado 10

The halftime stats were not out of line. Colorado actually had more first downs (11-to-10) and was close on total yards (231-to-212), but an interception, a blocked punt, and six penalties doomed the Buffs to a two-touchdown deficit at the break.

Any hopes of the Buffs’ building on their late second quarter momentum were quickly dashed as Arizona State took the second half kickoff and took full control of the contest. The Colorado defense forced a fourth-and-two at the CU 45-yard line, but couldn’t make the crucial play. Ahkello Witherspoon was able to tip the Mike Bercovici pass, but it fell into Tim White’s hands, who took it the rest of the way for a 45-yard touchdown and a 31-10 advantage.

Colorado’s answer? A fumble by Sefo Liufau on a sack, giving the ball back to Arizona State at the Buff 35-yard line. Five plays later, the advantage was up to four touchdowns, with Bercovici hitting former UCLA wide receiver Devin Lucien for a ten-yard touchdown and a 38-10 lead midway through the third quarter.

A third quarter highlight for the Buffs took place a few plays later, with Sefo Liufau hitting Devin Ross for a 68-yard touchdown. The longest play from scrimmage for the Colorado offense in the first half of the 2015 season was good for the stats sheet, but only cut the lead to 38-17.

Arizona State did not post a touchdown on its next drive, but the Sun Devils’ offense did what it needed to do to close the door on any potential CU comeback.  A 12-play, 57-yard drive netted only a field goal, but chewed up almost six minutes of clock, making it a 41-17 game early in the fourth quarter.

Once again, though, the Buffs’ offense struck quickly. A 67-yard completion from Liufau to Shay Fields set the Buffs up at the Arizona State two yard line, with Phillip Lindsay taking in on the next play to complete the four-play, 99-second drive. A two-point conversion attempt – which would have made it a two-score game with 13:13 to play – failed, leaving the score at 41-23.

A chance at a respectable finish for the Buffs?

Nope.

A D.J. Foster run of 63 yards was followed three plays later by Mike Bercovici’s fifth touchdown pass of the game to the star of the drive, D.J. Foster. Arizona State 48, Colorado 23, with still over ten minutes remaining to be played.

After the teams traded punts, the Buffs put together one last drive, which ended deep in Arizona State territory – appropriately – with a pair of sacks by the Sun Devil defense.

Final Score: Arizona State 48, Colorado 23

“We can not shoot ourselves in the foot and expect to win a Pac-12 football game,” said coach MacIntyre. “We’ve got to stop doing that. So we’ve got to find a way to coach it better and a way to play it better. You’re not going to win with that many turnovers, that’s the bottom line”.

Colorado turned the ball over twice, with an interception and a fumble, but also had a blocked punt deep in its own end. Other than that … the Buffs were close on total yardage (491 to 450), and Sefo Liufau almost doubled his highest output of the 2015 season, going for 389 yards while completing 25-of-40 passes.

The second-highest yardage game (he had 455 against Cal in 2014), though, was not a salve for Liufau’s wounds. “You have to put a huge freaking chip on your shoulder because I don’t want to take any steps backwards”, said Liufau. “I think we had a pretty good start to the season and I don’t want to go back to last year or even the year before that because that’s really frustrating and really upsetting because I know how much talent this team has and we’re just missing something and we just need to fight”.

The loss left the Buffs with a 3-3 overall record, but 0-2 in Pac-12 play. Up next: Arizona, coming off of a 44-7 mauling of Oregon State.

As had been the case throughout its five year history in the Pac-12, Colorado woke up Sunday morning after the Arizona State game in last place in the Pac-12 South. “Seven games,” running back Phillip Lindsay said afterward. “That’s what we’ve got left, and we’ve got to win them all. This isn’t about the coaches, it’s on us. They put us in position, but if we don’t execute, it’s on us. If there’s people in that locker room that don’t believe, it’s not the place for them. It’s time for us to come together, to fight for each other and win football games.”

Game Notes –

– One area of concern heading into the 2015 season was not much of a concern at the midway point. Diego Gonzalez hit his only field goal attempt against Arizona State, making him 10-for-13 on the season, with at least one field goal in each of CU’s first six games (the longest streak since an eight game stretch in late 2010 and early 2011);

– Another area of concern at the start of the year: interceptions: CU had only three in all of 2014, but Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception against the Sun Devils gave the Buffs nine interceptions for the season, with at least one in each game. The last time the Buffs had a six game stretch with at least one interception in each game? The final six games of the 2004 season;

– Arizona State posted eight sacks against the Colorado offense, the worst showing for the Buff offensive line since Missouri and Texas A&M had eight sacks apiece in the 2009 season;

– Wide receiver Shay Fields had five catches for 103 yards (including a 67-yarder), becoming the first Buff in 2015 with a 100-yard receiving game.

– The blocked Alex Kinney punt left Colorado with four blocked kicks (two punts; two field goals) in the first six games of the season.

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8 Replies to “Arizona State 48, Colorado 23”

  1. So either Sefo is hurt and it is making him ineffective or he is ineffective. Either way, perhaps if we don’t want to lose the season, Aspay should be getting experience. If Sefo is hurt he needs to heal to give us our best chance to win. If he is just not getting the job done, he’s in his third year and he needs to cede to the future of the program if we aren’t going to be winning with him. I know the whole program doesn’t fall on him but he’s been turnover prone and his accuracy has been hurting the offense as a whole.

  2. Can’t understand why the coaching staff didn’t have Sefo get rid of the ball faster. The play calling is hurting the BUFFS more than the players are. Just rough to see the young guys going threw the same thing over and over.GO BUFFS

  3. I had hopes the Buffs would compete in this game, but that was truly disappointing. The penalties, the clock management at the end of the first half, and MacIntire’s expression on the sideline made this look like a team from 2-3 years ago. Physically I think the Buffs can finally compete with other Pac-12 teams, but mentally and in execution they are far, far behind.

    No surprise this is all going to focus on offense, and I think it should. The OL is not very good. Liufau is just an OK QB. Pac-12 defenses will blitz away as they always have. Why doesn’t the HC and OC design offensive strategy to counter the blitzing? In this game, I saw very little use of a quick short passing game that other teams, including ASU in the same game, use to slow down defenses. The offensive plays are slow to develop. Passing accuracy is not acceptable.

    The defense is holding things together. The absence of the top 2 linebackers really hurts.

  4. Getting some big time talent in the trenches is the only way the Buffs are ever going to climb out of this hole. So tired of watching them get beat up front on both sides of the ball.

  5. This game was not as close as the score, and the score was obviously not good. This result was not exactly unexpected, but it was just ugly to watch. If Sefo is as hurt as he looks, he should come out. His arm is obviously bothering him and he misses a lot of throws as a result. Not that it really makes a difference who the QB is with our O-line being so bad. And the play calling is atrocious. There doesn’t seem to be any recognition about what our weaknesses are and how to run plays that minimize those weaknesses.

  6. The difference is out of conference talent compared to PAC 12 talent. Until we upgrade our talent pool the results will be the same. I think Mac is a good coach he is just coaching against faster and stronger teams that have more depth. Put the Buffs in the MWC and I think we win 8 – 9 games a year that is the kind of heart and talent we have. As pessimistic as I sound I still love the Buffs and will continue to support our young men who I think are giving everything they have.

    GO BUFFS!

  7. I have to say that this was one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen! Why did the clock start running after the Roughing the passer penalty was assessed at the end of the half? I thought the clock started on the snap after a penalty stoppage! And there was blatant holding on one of Bercovici’s touchdown passes that wasn’t called. Also, the announcers on the PAC-12 production were also ridiculously bad! It became hard to watch – the only saving grace was that the kids kept fighting to the end. My god, I hope that can win one of these games this year!

  8. Sefo was horrible again tonight….not accurate at all and most of those sacks were on him holding the ball way too long. Lets see what Aspsay can do.

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