September 26th – Boulder          Colorado 48, Nicholls 0

Colorado posted its first shutout in six seasons, with the defense holding Nicholls to 166 total yards in a 48-0 rout in Boulder. The Buffs went for 636 yards themselves in posting a third consecutive victory for the first time since 2008.

Two Buffs went for over 100 yards rushing on the sunny afternoon, with Phillip Lindsay going for 113 yards (almost all in the first half) and two touchdowns, with Donovan Lee posting 103 yards on ten carries, including a great 59-yard touchdown run in late in the third quarter. Sefo Liufau did throw for 227 yards and a score, but overthrew several receivers which could have given the Buffs an even larger first half cushion.

The Buffs won the opening coin toss and chose to take the ball … and that pretty much ended the Colonels participation in the game.

After a 27-yard kickoff return by Donovan Lee to set the Buffs up at their 30-yard line, it took the Colorado offense only six plays – and 85 seconds – to cover the remaining 70 yards and take the lead for good. The Buffs only faced one second down on the drive (and that was a second-and-three), with a pair of passes from Sefo Liufau to Nelson Spruce totaling 39 yards covering the most yardage. At the four yard line, Phillip Lindsay got the call, and, with 13:25 still left to play in the first quarter, the Buffs had all the points they would need.

The Nicholls offense managed a first down on its first possession, but the Buffs quickly got the ball back. A poor punt set the Colorado offense up at midfield, with the Buffs needing eight plays to pretty much end any issue as to the final outcome. A Phillip Lindsay run of 20 yards got the ball inside the red zone, with a 13-yard run by Christian Powell taking the ball down to the one. On the next play, Powell went in untouched, making it a 14-0 game with less than six minutes elapsed in the first quarter.

A quick three-and-out forced by the CU defense gave the Buff offense good field position again, with the Buffs setting up shop at their own 45 yard line. The offense sputtered – a little bit – with the Colonels’ defense actually forcing three third downs. On third-and-16 at the Nicholls 38, Liufau hit wide receiver Jay MacIntyre near the Nicholls 15 yard line. The coach’s son then did the rest, juking his way into the end zone to make it 21-0 … with five minutes still to be played in the opening quarter.

When the first quarter came to a close, the Buffs had the ball back again, and were already at the Nicholls 31 yard line. Colorado had 242 yards of total offense in the first quarter (to 56 for Nicholls), with 13 first downs (to three for the Colonels).

The second quarter gave the Buffs to post scoring totals of record proportions … but the Colorado offense became its own worst enemy.

On the first drive of the second quarter, Christian Powell was stripped of the ball at the Nicholls two yard line after a 14-yard gain.

On the second drive of the second quarter, the Buffs drove 70 yards in 11 plays, only to turn the ball over on downs when Sefo Liufau was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-one at the Nicholls six yard line.

On the third drive of the second quarter, the Buffs did post a field goal, with Diego Gonzalez hitting from 48 yards out. The score gave CU a comfortable 24-0 lead at the break, but mistakes – including several overthrows by Liufau – kept the score as close as it was.

Halftime score: Colorado 24, Nicholls 0

If it was possible for a team coming off of a 2-10 season to be nervous with a 24-0 lead, the Buffs fit the bill. Not that the Colonels would make a comeback (Nicholls had scored a total of ten points in its first two games combined), but that the Buff offense was squandering opportunities, and that Sefo Liufau may have more banged up during the Colorado State game the week before than had previously been disclosed.

Fortunately for the Buff Nation, the Colorado defense wasn’t about to let Nicholls make the game interesting.

The stat line for the Nicholls offense in the third quarter … three-and-out; three-and-out; three-and-out; three-and-out; and three-and-out.

Five possessions. Seven yards rushing on nine attempts. Zero-for-six passing.

Meanwhile, the Colorado offense again hit its stride. After missing a field goal attempt on its first possession, the Buffs needed only six plays to cover 58 yards in the second possession to expand its lead. Liufau hit Jay MacIntyre for 12 yards before hitting Shay Fields for a 34 yard gain (the ball was underthrown again, but Fields was so wide open that he was able to field the pass like a punt). Four Phillip Lindsay runs, the final effort from a yard out, made it 31-0 midway through the third quarter.

On the Buffs’ next possession, Jordan Gehrke took over at quarterback. The sophomore kept the drive alive with a 13-yard scramble on third-and-eight, with Donovan Lee taking care of business on the next play. The sophomore wide receiver, pressed into duty at running back with several other Buffs dinged up for the game, went up the middle for a seven yard gain. Thought to be stopped, Lee kept churning breaking out for what became a 59-yard touchdown run. Colorado 38, Nicholls 0.

A 31-yard punt return by Jay MacIntyre set the Buffs up at the Nicholls 33-yard, allowing Colorado to keep up the pressure. The Buffs were not able to take advantage of the good field position, however, with Diego Gonzalez hitting a 46-yard field goal to make it a 41-0 game late in the third.

The fourth quarter witnessed liberal substitutions on both sides of the ball. The Buffs picked up their second and third turnovers, with Jered Bell’s second interception of the day, and a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Terran Hasslebach. The Colorado offense, though, now led by red-shirt freshman quarterback Cade Apsay, could only muster one scoring drive. The Buffs took up almost half of the final stanza with a 13-play, 66-yard drive, with another red-shirt freshman, Kyle Evans, doing the honors from two yards out.

The Buffs could have pushed the point total over 50, but instead took a knee in the final moments after pushing the ball inside the Nicholls five yard line.

Enough was enough.

Time to give Nicholls its $500,000 check and a heartfelt “thanks for coming”.

Final score: Colorado 48, Nicholls 0

“Any time you shut anybody out, that’s a good deal,” said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre. “It’s hard to shut anybody out, it really is. I don’t care who it is. There’s something that usually happens. But our effort, and our tenacity was excellent, the kids kept playing hard.”

On the day, the Buffs went for 636 yards on offense, the most under Mike MacIntyre (topping the 630 posted in a double-overtime loss to Cal in 2014). More impressive was the Colorado defense, which posted its first shutout since defeating Wyoming, 24-0, in 2009.

Lost in the record-setting day was perhaps the most important record of all. Senior wide receiver Nelson Spruce had five catches for 80 yards – a fairly pedestrian day for Spruce. The 80 yards, though, were enough to make Spruce the all-time leading receiver in Colorado history. Michael Westbrook went for 2,548 yards in his CU career (1992-94), but Spruce finished the game with 2,570 yards (Spruce also added to his record for career catches, pushing his total to 230. “It’s awesome. Just like the receptions record I got earlier”, said Spruce. “It’s something that you start your career out aiming for and to keep working and eventually get it is [great]. It’s cool to see all of that hard work pay off.”

The victory gave Colorado a 3-1 record, and its largest margin of victory since taking out Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe), but a 66-14 margin in 1995.

Up next? The Pac-12 opener against Oregon, a team which had taken out Colorado in Pac-12 play by scores of 45-2, 70-14, 57-16, and 44-10.

Would the Buffs be ready?

“Lets just enjoy this one right now,” said MacIntyre when asked about Oregon after the game. After laughing, MacIntyre resumed: “Speed, speed, speed. That’s what worries you about Oregon, they have a lot of speed, all over the field … They have been the class of the Pac-12 for a while, them and Stanford, it seems like. They’re a really good football team.”

Game Notes …

–  How dominant were the Buffs? Colorado did not have negative yards on an offensive play until the final two snaps of the game … two kneel downs inside the Nicholls ten yard line … Colorado had 14 drives, with only one not having a snap inside Nicholls territory. That 14th drive? When Donovan Lee scored on a 59-yard run;

– Average starting position during the game? Colorado – its 47-yard line … Nicholls – its own 15-yard line;

– With so many Buffs seeing playing time (70 of 78 players who dressed were able to take the field), there were many firsts against Nicholls:

– first career touchdowns: wide receiver Jay MacIntyre; running back Kyle Evans;

– first career passing numbers: QB Cade Apsay;

– first career receptions:  TB Kyle Evans, TE Chris Hill, WR Jay MacIntyre;

– first career start: DE Michael Mathewes;

– first career action: QB Cade Apsay, TE Brian Boatman, FB John Finch, DE Garrett Gregory, DL Blake Robbins.

6 Replies to “Colorado 48, Nicholls 0”

  1. Great day overall for the Buffs! Yes, the Ducks look beatable but they will be angry coming into Folsom next week. My biggest concerns going into the PAC-12 schedule are the poor tackling and the inability to run up the middle. Most of our runs were off tackle or were to the perimeter. If we can’t move around the Colonels how are we going to compete against the PAC-12?

  2. So our next 4 opponents all got bombed this weekend. The 2 toughest opponents are in Boulder…… After watching a couple of those blow outs I know our Buffs are mentally tougher than any of them. If they can come out and play for 60 minutes hard I think they have a chance of doing something special. Something only the craziest of us have dreamed of for this year. Let’s make some waves in the Pac 12!

    1. I agree with you Rob. At least two of those games are quite winnable especially at home. Hoping for all four of course, GO BUFFS!

  3. Yo Stuart,

    What a great day. The Buffs took care of business (although Sefo still seems to be hurting) and Utah showed that Oregon is NOT a very good team this year. Without a doubt, Utah is now the strongest team the Buffs will play this year.

    More importantly, the Buffs next four games are against teams that are not looking good right now.

    — Oregon humiliated at home 62-13 by Utah
    — Arizona State is down at home 35-0 to USC at half-time
    — Arizona at home was dominated by UCLA 56-30
    — Oregon State manhandled at home by Stanford 42-24

    The Buffs will have to continue to improve, but all four of those games now look like games the Buffs have a legitimate chance of winning.

    Who would have guessed that before the day began?


  4. I’d like to give an analogy.
    I was once on a reality show in which we had to make a rube goldberg perpetual motion chain reaction machine. We had one, single test run before it would be recorded. It failed 12 times. We were able to fix every one of them, and the two runs that counted both went perfectly. I hope this “practice” with 12 errors from the buffs leads to similar adjustments. Go buffs.

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