October 31st – Pasadena          No. 24 UCLA 35, Colorado 31

The Colorado offense was on the field for a school record 114 plays, ran up 554 yards of total offense, and held the ball 41:05 of game clock … and still lost to No. 24 UCLA, 35-31. The Buffs had twice as many first downs as the (34-16), but red zone mistakes could not be overcome, with a Sefo Liufau interception in the final minute ending CU’s final hope.

Sefo Liufau went 37-for-57 for 312 yards, but a 96-yard interception for a touchdown turned what could have been a 7-7 game into a 14-0 deficit in the second quarter. Two Buffs went over the century mark in offensive production, with freshman running back Patrick Carr going for 100 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Devin Ross had nine receptions for 101 yards. Nelson Spruce, who became the Pac-12’s all-time receptions leader during the game, finished with 11 catches for 90 yards.

“I thought the overall effort, intensity, fight was good (and well as) the game plan by our coordinators on both sides”, said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre. “We had a good game plan to attack and be aggressive, which we needed to, and we executed that. A couple balls bounced the wrong way, but the kids are still fighting.”

Under Mike MacIntyre, Colorado had usually taken the ball when the won the opening coin toss, keeping its suspect defense off the field as long as possible. Against UCLA, however, the Buffs won the coin toss and deferred, giving the ball to the Bruins to open the game.

The move appeared sound as the Buff defense forced a three-and-out from the UCLA offense to start the game. Taking over at their 23 yard line, the Buff offense pieced together a pair of first downs before punting the ball back to the Bruins.

On their second possession, the Bruins methodically moved down the field. A 24-yard pass completion was followed two plays later by a 27-yard pass from Josh Rosen to Jordan Payton (right after an interception by linebacker Rick Gamboa was overturned by the replay official). Then, on third-and-14 at the CU 31-yard line, Rosen dumped the ball off to running back Paul Perkins, who ran through and around the Colorado defense for his first touchdown catch of the season. UCLA 7, Colorado 0, midway through the first quarter.

The Buffs then responded with a drive of their own, with Sefo Liufau picking up a pair of first downs on third down carries. After completing a 17-yard pass to Shay Fields on a third-and-20, the Buffs were given a first down on a defensive holding call on fourth-and-three. The CU offense was unable to take advantage, however, with the drive stalling at the UCLA 18-yard line. Diego Gonzalez was called upon to put the Buffs on the board, but missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.

The teams then traded three-and-outs, with the Buff defense twice shutting down the Bruin offense. Early in the second quarter, the CU offense patched together a successful drive, with Patrick Carr picking up meaningful yards and the Buffs picking up a first down on a fourth-and-inches at the Bruin 20-yard line. The gamble failed to pay off, however. On third-and-goal at the UCLA six yard line, Sefo Liufau committed the mortal sin of throwing an interception in the red-zone. Liufau’s offering, intended for Devin Ross, was picked by Ishmael Adams, who returned the ball 96 yards for a Bruin touchdown.

Instead of a 7-7 game, it was 14-0, UCLA.

The Buffs could have folded up their tents after the 14-point turnaround, but instead the CU offense bounced back. The drive opened with a 31-yard completion to tight end Sean Irwin, taking the ball to the UCLA 34. On third-and-seven, Nelson Spruce tied the all-time Pac-12 receptions leader with his 259th catch of his career. The catch was good enough for ten yards and a first down. The Buffs then once again drove inside the Bruin ten yard line, but again were held out of the end zone. Chris Gonzalez made a 25-yard field goal, making it a 14-3 game late in the second quarter.

Any momentum gained from the Buffs’ third drive of over ten plays in the first half quickly evaporated one play from scrimmage later. Paul Perkins, who had a 92-yard run for a score against Colorado in the 2014 game, went untouched 82 yards for a UCLA score. Just like that, it was UCLA 21, Colorado 3.

The final three minutes of the first half was taken up by the Colorado offense. A pair of first down completions to Shay Fields got the ball out near midfield before an 11-yard completion to Nelson Spruce made the Buff receiver the all-time Pac-12 leading receiver. A 21-yard run by Donovan Lee got the Buffs back in the red zone, but, once again, a double-digit play drive did not result in a touchdown. Diego Gonzalez was good from 23 yards out as time expired in the half.

Halftime score: No. 24 UCLA 21, Colorado 6

The Buffs did everything they wanted to in the first half, keeping the ball for four ten-play drives and out-gaining the Bruins, with 278 yards of total offense to just 197 for UCLA. The 61 plays by the Buffs were the most by an FBS in the first half all season, and CU had a 18 first downs to just five for UCLA.

Unfortunately, two huge plays by the Bruins – a 96-yard interception return and an 82-yard run – coupled with CU’s inability to finish (four red zone trips: two field goals), gave UCLA a 15-point lead at the break.

The second half opened with the Buffs trying to find their way into the end zone … and finally succeeding. After a pair of Phillip Lindsay runs netted ten yards, three Patrick Carr runs were good for 34 more, with the last going for 20 yards. Then it was Donovan Lee’s turn, going up the middle for 23 yards. Two plays later, Lee went up the middle for a one yard touchdown. The eight-play drive (all runs), made it a 21-13 game early in the third quarter.

A long kickoff return by the Bruins would have given the momentum back to UCLA, but Jaleel Awini stripped the ball away from Bruin returner Stephen Johnson. Senior safety Jered Bell fell on the ball at the CU 35 yard line, giving the Buffs the football at their own 35-yard line.

Three runs by Patrick Carr got the Buffs inside Bruin territory, but a 15-yard hands-to-the-face penalty on Stephane Nembot cut short any hope of a game-tying drive.

Back on the field for the first time since late in the second quarter, the UCLA offense took advantage of its opportunity. Another explosion play, this time a 51-yard completion from Josh Rosen to Jordan Payton, set up the Bruins at the CU 11-yard line. On the next play, Nate Starks took the ball in for the score. UCLA 28, Colorado 13.

Once again down two scores, the Buffs were unable to maintain possession, even after going for – and converting – a fourth-and-inches at their own 35 yard line. The Colorado defense, though, forced a three-and-out from the UCLA offense, getting the ball right back for CU.

After a nine-yard completion to Nelson Spruce, the Buffs turned to Donovan Lee. Four straight runs by Lee netted 20 yards, getting the ball to the UCLA 31-yard line. There, however, the CU offense again stalled. Diego Gonzalez then hit a 45-yard field goal, making it a 28-16 game late in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter opened with UCLA holding a two-score lead and having the ball in Colorado territory. On the third play of the quarter, Jordan Carrell sacked Bruin quarterback Josh Rosen, with Rosen fumbling on the play. The ball bounced right into the hands of Samson Kafovalu, who rumbled 33 yards for a Colorado touchdown. UCLA 28, Colorado 23.

The Buff defense forced a punt on UCLA’s next possession, giving Colorado a chance to take the lead.

And the CU offense delivered. On the Buffs’ first play from scrimmage, Sefo Liufau hit Donovan Lee for a 62 yard completion. On the next play, Patrick Carr too it in for a six yard touchdown. The team which couldn’t score touchdowns on drives of over ten plays in the first half had a two-play drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion pass to Nelson Spruce was complete, giving the Buffs a 31-28 lead with 12:04 to play.

The teams then traded punts, with UCLA getting the ball back with just over nine minutes remaining.

Three plays later, UCLA had the lead back.

A 26-yard completion, followed by a 38-yard completion, gave the Bruins a first-and-goal at the CU two-yard line. Soso Jamabo took it in from there, giving the Bruins the lead back, at 35-31, with 8:28 still to play.

The Buffs were still game, with completions to Nelson Spruce and runs by Patrick Carr getting the Buffs into Bruin territory. The drive made it as far as the UCLA 23 yard line before it was halted. The Buffs faced a fourth-and-four, and, down by four points with under four minutes to play, had to go for the first down. A Sefo Liufau completion to Donovan Lee, however, resulted in a loss of six yards, giving the ball back to UCLA.

The Colorado defense, as it had for most of the afternoon, stood tall, forcing a UCLA punt. The Buffs got the ball back, at their own 20-yard line, with two minutes to play.

Eighty yards from a major upset, the Buffs got as far as the 46-yard line. There, with just under a minute to play, Sefo Liufau was intercepted, ending CU’s hope for a comeback win.

Final score: No. 24 UCLA 35, Colorado 31

“I thought our young men played really hard”, said Mike MacIntyre. “I thought we played really well at times and again shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times that were dramatic game-changing plays. But we kept battling and had an opportunity at the end of the game to win it. I was really pleased with our balance on offense and wasn’t pleased with us not getting into the end zone a couple times”.

The stats sheet belied the final score. Colorado held the ball for 41:05 of game clock, including an absurd 14:03 in the second quarter. In that stanza, the Buffs ran off 40 plays to just four for UCLA . That being said, the Buffs only out-gained the Bruins 194 yards to 85 … and were out-scored 14-6.

Colorado ran off a school record 114 plays on offense (to just 59 for UCLA), surpassing the 110 plays of offense the Buffs ran in 59-56 double overtime loss to Cal in 2014. In six trips to the Bruin red zone, however, the Buffs scored a total of 21 points, with two touchdowns (and a two-point conversion), two field goals, and two empty trips (missed field goal, 96-yard pick six).

Here is the YouTube video of the game, courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul:

 

Game Notes –

– Nelson Spruce had 11 catches for 90 yards, finishing the game with 267 career catches. During the game, Spruce passed Arizona State’s Derek Hagen (258, 2002-05) and Arizona’s Mike Thomas (259, 2005-08) for first place as the Pac-12’s all-time leading receiver;

– The 114 plays not only passed the school record for plays in all games (110 v. Cal in 2014), but also took care of the record for plays in a regulation game (previous record: 105 v. Kansas State, 1992);

– The 40 plays in the second quarter were the most-ever in a single quarter (previous record: 36, on two occasions);

– Colorado had 312 yards passing and 242 yards passing, the 57th time in school history the Buffs had at least 200 yards passing and rushing in the same game. With the loss, the Buffs fell to 48-9 in such contests;

– The 33-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Samson Kafovalu was the first such score by the Buffs since 2013 (Jered Bell v. USC), and the first for a defensive lineman since 2002 (Tyler Brayton v. Texas Tech).

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19 Replies to “No. 24 UCLA 35, Colorado 31”

  1. It was a great game. Sefo should get some time off as he is too slow to release and the other teams see exactly where and what he is going to do. He over threw several of his passes this Saturday and we were there to witness. How long can an offensive line hold until he releases?? All the winning teams have quick release quarterbacks. Short passes over the middle wouldn’t hurt either. I saw a couple this week. The long passes that go over the heads of the receivers have got to stop!!!!!

  2. I have been a season ticket holder since 1989 and an extremely frustrated fan for the past 10 years. Hawkins dragged our program down into the depths, god bless his sole, Embree never had the chance or right coaches to uplift the program to a respectable level. I do see promise and hope in these Buffs, especially the way they fought back and even went ahead of UCLA yesterday. It was inspiring to see them not give up. They are definitely a more competitive and stronger team than they were before McIntyre showed up and he has my full support. I do have concerns about Sefo. While he puts up big numbers on yards and at time touchdowns, my concern is more with his decision making in critical situations. Sefo has been our starter since half way through his freshman season and he still is making what I consider freshmen/sophomore mistakes. He makes some great throws and then turns around and makes throws that make you scratch your head. He has never been able to make more than 1 read or look off defenders, which leads to poor throws and bad interceptions. Watching them try and run a 2 minute offense is brutal, there never seems to be an urgency from Sefo to get them lined up and to hike the ball, he throws a 3 yard completion, wasting 15 seconds and we still need 70 more yards to go. Wouldn’t it make more sense to throw an incomplete pass or throw it downfield? I do not doubt the heart of the player, but I think he has reach his glass ceiling in what we can expect from him. I hope I am wrong, but if he remains our QB for the rest of his tenure here at Colorado, he will hold all of the passing records, but not many wins. Go Buffs!!!!

  3. This loss was heartbreaking, but what a come back. At halftime this team looked like it was down for the count but they battled back and had me believing they could win it in the end. Let’s remember that it has only been a short 2 1/2 years since the 1-11 season under Embree and a team full of true freshmen. The improvement in that short amount of time is about what can be expected with a good coach. Remember, it took coach McCartney three full seasons before he posted his 7-5 winning season in 1985 (he was 1-11 in the season right before that), and another four years before he had his 11-1 season in 1989. I am just as disappointed/frustrated as all of you, but I also realize that the change was going to take time. We have been so close this year and just a bit of good luck here and there and we could be having a totally different conversation (probably why we are all so frustrated – we can feel it but it is just out of our grasp), but let’s be realistic. Those kids played their tails off yesterday and deserve our support.

  4. I watched some of the Wazoo and Temple games and was struck by how much more speed those two teams had compared to CU.

    With just five fast guys at key positions CU could do a lot better in the win column.

    First they need 3 fast line backers like Jordan Dizon. Gamboa et. al. are a bit sluggish chasing people.

    Second they need 2 fast wide receivers like Paul Richardson. Fields and Ross can make a long play now and then, but mostly due to broken coverage. Remember when Richardson would catch a pass 10 yards out and then outrun everyone for 50 yards.

    Outposts like Wazoo and Temple (Barry Switzer always called them Shirley Temple) can recruit speed. Why can’t CU?

  5. Stats don’t win games, big plays win games and I think our guys look like they are maxed out right now. This is not derogatory, it’s just who the Buffs are.

    This is Mac’s third year and the elephant in the room is his failure to recruit. Lindgrin’s biggest issue is not his play calling, it’s that we don’t have any 4 or 5 star QBs in the pipeline. What happened to recruiting the best players from Colorado? What happened to “considering California as an in-state recruiting area”? Why don’t we get players from LA?

    If Mac changes any coaches, the most important interview questions are: “How are you going to win recruiting battles for highly touted QBs when you are up against other Pac12 teams?” “What are your connections into southern California?” “What are you going to do to keep Colorado guys in Colorado?” I hope he hires guy(s) who have really good answers to these questions.

  6. Does Sefo have the IT factor? A person either has IT or he doesn’t

    1.) He knows what IT is that that needs to be done. Yes
    2.) He knows what to do to get IT done. No
    3.) He feels IT. Yes
    4.) He get’s IT done. No
    5.) He has IT! No!

    The costly interceptions should prove me right.
    GO BUFFS!

  7. So runs this team? Sefo or McIntyre? Not a good message to send recruits. Next it will be Lindsay running Carr off. Sefo needs to be benched. His only two Pac wins are against wibless in conference teams wth first year coaches. No. 2-17 as Pac 12 starter.

  8. I just have one question: Was Sefo injured at the end of the game? The coaches seemed to send Apsay into the game with a minute to play and Sefo was holding his arm like it was injured – but he motioned to Apsay to get back off the field. If the coaches wanted to sub in Apsay, does Sefo have veto power over the coaches? Can’t the coaches protect Sefo against his “gut it out” instincts? It seemed obvious to me that he threw that interception because his arm was injured and he couldn’t put any zip on the ball – am I wrong. I am sick of this “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” track we are on. My observation for the past two years is that Sefo is the reason we are in most of the games where we are often big underdogs – but that it is also Sefo who makes the big mistake at the worst time that is often responsible for losing the game. I don’t know what we should do – but I would like to see Apsay get some real game experience this year (we’ve already burned his red-shirt anyway) so that there can be a real competition at the quarterback position next fall!

    1. Apsay already redshirted last year, his redshirt wasn’t burned. But I agree, I would love to see in a game. Granted it was against backups from an FCS team, but when he got game experience earlier this year, it looked like he could actually read the defense (which Sefo cannot, he looks for his first read and if it’s not there he scrambles and either takes a dumb sack or throws a pick) and his throws looked more accurate and had more velocity than either Sefo or Gherke can provide. I don’t think Sefo is the guy. He threw for 300 yards, but had over 50 throws to get there. I love his toughness, and he’s the best qb we’ve had since Klatt, but he won’t be te guy we take the next step with.

  9. I was so impressed with the effort this team put forth today. Sefo, in particular, gave as close to 100% as I think a man can. That guy left everything, I mean everything, on the field.

    Losing this game stings – it felt a lot like one of those close Nebraska losses but these guys have earned my complete respect. Damn those guys played hard!

  10. I’m kind of with Sam on this one. It was fun to watch the Buffs battle today, but they battled a good UCLA team last year and barely lost. So what has changed? Not much. Let’s face it, Pac-12 teams aren’t as good this year as they were last year. An improved 2015 Buffs team should have a couple more Pac-12 wins. So hoping for just one upset win this season and then it’s a long wait for 2016.

  11. Stuart, again, nice article and recap. This game showed two things to me: one is positive and the other, a broken record. The team deserved to win this game today. They outplayed UCLA and dominated the stats, rebounded from the 96 yard pick six, and the defense is improving. Those are exciting developments, particularly against a Top 25 team on the road. The “broken record” is what happens in key situations, particularly at the end of games. Part of it is offensive coaching but Liufau simply does not win games, he is not a closer, and does not come through when it matters most. At the end of the day, that still produces a loss regardless of the pride and improvement. He has had countless opportunities over the last 3 years to show that he can win close games against quality opponents. He has not done so in any of those situations. Instead, he has either not made the play or cost the team the win through critical game killing mistakes. He is good enough to get very close but can’t finish and does not perform well under that pressure. I do not see this changing. In baseball, teams use closers. Maybe CU should consider that or start breaking in another QB for the future. Though that is an unusual idea, something has to change or we will keep seeing the same stuff over and over. Yes, we had some wins this year against CSU and the Beavs but the games were not won by Sefo having the ball in his hands. It is just not who he is and I do not see it changing. Some people can make plays when it counts, others cannot.

  12. i am a proud CU alum and stand behind the program through thick and thin. so please do not take this out of context when i say this:

    Mental Toughness! i really do believe the coaches have these kids in the right places and the right formations however i feel that at this point it is all mental!!!! these kids have a culture of losing and not only losing but gut wrenching losses. CU has a 3 point lead and decides to give the game back to UCLA. 4 trips to the red zone in the first half and only 6 points to show for it. there comes a time where the mentality needs to change. not longer should be “hey we can hang with these guys” but “hey We can BEAT these guys” coaches are not on the field during the game and the players needs to get over their own mental hump!!!! they played their butts off today and indeed left it out on the field however your Brain can be your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time.

    its all mental now it really is. last thing we need is another coaching change.

    Still proud of the effort today! kids are playing till the bitter end!

  13. yep sucks but things looking better for the future. things like this take time ,and when a program has been thru what CU has its going to take time. it sucks that we are having another losing season but hopefully thing will change next year . ya More koolaid but I `am just hoping with new recruits and more changes could really help. Go Buffs

  14. It is not Sefo that is the problem. It is Lindgren. He refuses to adjust the offense to the players he has. Sefo is very successful running pro style under center. Go back and watch. Nearly every play run from a pro set was successful. Our running game is dominant so what do we do, we empty the back field, allow Ucla lineman to tee off on their rush and expect Sefo to throw to a route tree that is to long. Bench Lindgren. Let Walters call the plays for the rest of the season. Wasn’t it Walters begging for a deep pass during csu?

    If they don’t go to a pro set they need to let Apsay start. Heck with the hits Sefo took this game they probably need to let Apsay play anyway.

    1. I totally disagree. Lindgren is the reason that the Buffs have been in almost every game this year. Colorado has not had a coaching staff like this in 30 years. Be patient, this is year three. These coaches are doing this without the high profile talent of the teams they have been facing. That game yesterday was very encouraging. This team is not broken, the rebuild is right on schedule. Brian Lindgren is one of the best coordinators this team has ever had. Give him a break. The last thing we want is a predictable offense in the PAC 12.

      1. Agree 100% with you Rob. The talent gap widened with Hawk and just went off the charts with Embree. I had difficulty watching games over the last few years as it was so obvious we had no chance of competing at his level. Our team would have struggled to win many games with a full slate of FCS games. The progress over the last three years has been significant and, when the offense is in a rhythm, is a lot of fun to watch. Coach Leavitt said the D would not get fixed overnight, but I love the way it has started. If you look at the talent coming in, I do believe this staff has been able to recruit some talent. With how irrelevant we’ve been, it’s not going to be easy to bring in top 30 recruiting classes until the foundation is built. The school is now committed to this program and the facilities will help bring in some kids that, in the past, wouldn’t have even considered CU. The fact that we are in games will help as well, as we are trending up while other teams seem to be trending down. We are starting to build the depth required to compete, but are not there yet. I was hoping this would be the year and it very well could have been. Next year we’ll be a Jr/Sr heavy team, so a bowl game will be mandatory to make a run at some top recruiting classes with large numbers of schollys available. With other teams struggling in the South (UofA looks horrible and RichRod may be running away; ASU underachieving again) – I do believe that our rebuilding schedule is on track and can be sustained for years to come. While I’ve been frustrated beyond belief over the last decade, I’m glad that loses hurt now (wasn’t the case just a few short years ago). It means we are competitive and just need to get ‘winning’ close games back in our culture. While I would love to have seen Apsay given a chance on the last drive (spins it nice), I trust the coaches know more than I on putting the best players on the field that give us the best chance to win. While a bowl game seems like a huge stretch, I would love to see the Buffs find a way to get 1 or 2 wins to solidify the progress made. Then, we break in the new IPF with a wide open race to see who will lead this team behind center in 2016. Go Buffs!

  15. Tough loss, but I’m still proud of this team. Going on the road against a ranked opponent, and CU looked like the better team for most of the game. I think Sefo is learning how to play with very little protection. It seems no matter who we put at RT they have hard time with pass protection (something to worry about for next year too). Tough game for D.Ross. He had the one big play, but dropped two balls in the endzone that would have really changed the game. I’m sure many CU fans are going to be upset with another loss, but this team played they’re asses off and I feel for the kids that they don’t get to enjoy another road win. Go Buffs!

  16. I’d like to begin by thanking you Stuart for allowing fans like myself a forum to vent our frustrations, and I am always in the CU corner but I have to vent.Colorado football…. Pat yourselves on the back boys you blew another chance at a win. 5-35 since joining the PAC-12. Guaranteed 10th straight losing season and the media will continue to sound like a broken record preaching that next year will be better, same thing I have heard for 10 years. Sick of this crap. Also Sefo shouldn’t start again this season. He has great numbers every week yet when it matters he chokes worse than Tony Romo. Even in the win last week it was the defense that saved us, not Sefo.

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