** Note ** … With the 2020 Fall schedule on hold, there will be no CU football for some time. But that shouldn’t stop those of us who need a football fix from writing and reading about our Buffs. Over the course of the season, I will be presenting Game stories for your Buffs – just as I have been doing for decades. These Game stories will serve as what will serve as my predictions for the Buffs had the 2020 season played out as originally scheduled. I will also be keeping track of the rest of the Pac-12, with “game results” each week for the rest of the conference. 

Then, just for fun, I will also have an ***Alternate Universe*** schedule for the Buffs (spoiler alert: The Buffs are going to have a great season!!) … 

September 5th – Ft. Collins           Colorado 38, Colorado State 17

Colorado was out-gained (475 yards of total offense to 463), and had to overcome an early deficit, but did so in style, defeating Colorado State, 38-17, in the first game played between the rivals in Ft. Collins since 1996. Junior quarterback Tyler Lytle made his starting debut a successful one, throwing for two touchdowns and running for a third as the Buffs won their sixth straight against the Rams in the final edition of the “Rocky Mountain Showdown”.

“They made us work for it”, said CU head coach Karl Dorrell. “I’m very proud of how this team has come together after all they had to endure this past off-season”.

The sell-out crowd of 40,314 at Canvas Stadium was about evenly split between black-and-gold and green-and-gold, with the home town team having more to cheer about early on. Using a reverse, a half-back pass and a fake punt, the Rams were able to stay in the game for most of the first half.

After the Buff defense had forced a three-and-out to start the game, a fake punt gave CSU a first down and new life near midfield. Six plays later, running back Marcus McElroy hit a wide open receiver, Warren Jackson, on a halfback option for a 26-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 9:47 left in the first quarter.

The Buffs responded with a successful drive of their own, with Alex Fontenot doing most of the heavy lifting, posting four carries for 27 yards. The drive, however, stalled at the CSU 19-yard line, with the Buffs settling for a 36-yard field goal by James Stefanou to make it a 7-3 game late in the first.

The teams exchanged punts before the Rams scored on a 36-yard reverse by wideout Nate Craig-Myers early in the second quarter. The 14-3 lead gave the Ram faithful the opportunity to chant, “It’s great … to be … a CSU Ram!” incessantly, while the Buff fans who made the trip were forced to endure the heat of the day – 85-degrees for the noon kickoff – together with taunting from little brother’s fans.

Fortunately for the Buffs and their fans, the Craig-Myers score pretty much ended the cheering for Ram Nation.

Settling in at quarterback, Lytle hit senior wide receiver K.D. Nixon for a 37-yard gain on the second play of CU’s ensuing drive. A 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brady Russell completed the eight-play, 83-yard drive, making it a 14-10 game with 5:57 left in the half.

A sack by defensive end Mustafa Johnson put an end to CSU’s next drive, with the Buffs taking over at the CSU 49 after a poor punt. This time, it was the running game which was the focus, with Fontenot and Jaren Mangham earning 44 of the 49 yards necessary for the Buffs to take their first lead of the game. A one-yard sneak by Tyler Lytle on third-and-goal did the trick, allowing the Buffs to take a 17-14 lead into the break.

Halftime score: Colorado 17, Colorado State 14

Able to make halftime adjustments to the CSU game plan, the Buffs asserted their dominance in the third quarter. CU took the second half kickoff and marched smartly down the field without so much as a single third down. Fontenot, who had his fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career (18 carries for 106 yards) had runs of 12, nine, and seven yards early in the drive. Tyler Lytle 31-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Dimitri Stanley completed the drive, giving the Buffs a ten-point lead, 24-14, with 10:14 still to play in the third quarter.

Any hopes of a CSU comeback were dashed soon thereafter. The Rams were able to put together a long drive on their first opportunity of the third quarter, but a pass from Patrick O’Brien was picked off in the end zone by safety Derrion Rakestraw, ending the threat.

A 25-yard run by Jaren Mangham, coupled with a 19-yard completion from Lytle to Daniel Arias, quickly put the ball back on the CSU side of the field. Thereafter, the Buffs were methodical, with a 10-play, 80-yard drive finished off by Fontenot’s seven-yard run. Late in the third quarter, the Buffs had matters well in hand, carrying their 31-14 lead into the final stanza.

CU’s final score was set up by another turnover, with Terrance Lang forcing a fumble on a sack, with the ball recovered on the CSU 39-yard line by fellow defensive lineman Jalen Sami. Sophomore running back Deion Smith put the finishing touches on the day, scoring his first career touchdown on a four-yard run, making it a 38-14 game midway through the fourth quarter.

Most of the Ram Nation had departed by the time the Rams posted their only second half points, with kicker Cayden Camper connecting on a 36-yarder with 2:14 to play, capping the scoring.

Final score: Colorado 38, Colorado State 17

“It was a satisfying victory”, head coach Karl Dorrell said of his debut win. “The Rams were fired up and ready to play, and took advantage of our defensive aggressiveness early, but I thought we kept our heads in the game, and our coaches did a good job of making adjustments”.

“We had our chances”, said Steve Addazio, who lost in his first game as the head coach at CSU. “We took it to them early, but just couldn’t sustain the momentum”.

Tyler Lytle finished with 278 passing yards for the Buffs, completing 18-of-29 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. “It’s a good win”, said the junior, who came into the contest with four completions in six attempts (with an interception) in his career at Colorado. “The offensive line did a great job of opening up holes and protecting the pocket. I’m just glad to get out of here with a win – but we’re done here, and are already focused on getting ready for Fresno State”.

Alex Fontenot, who posted his second consecutive 100-yard game against the Rams (with four total touchdowns) was ecstatic after the game. “I’m so happy for the seniors on this team”, Fontenot said. “We have been through three coaches in three years, and they deserve to have a great final campaign. Putting the Rams in their place is a great way to get things started”.

Up next for the Buffs … Fresno State, a 42-10 winner over Idaho State. The Bulldogs, like the Buffs and Rams, played their first game Saturday, taking out the Vandals with ease in Kalen DeBoer’s first game as head coach for Fresno State.

Game Notes … 

— The win was the sixth straight for the Buffs over the Rams, finishing off the 23-year run of the “Rocky Mountain Showdown”. Since the first game in Denver in 1998, the Buffs have posted a 16-7 record against the Rams, including nine wins in the last 11 games;

— CU upped its advantage in the all-time series to 68-22-2;

— Karl Dorrell joined Rick Neuheisel (1995), Mike MacIntyre (2013) and Mel Tucker (2019) as the only CU head coaches since World War II to win in their debut;

— The game marked the first time since 1996 that the Buffs played the Rams in Ft. Collins (a 48-34 CU win). CU raised its record against CSU in games played in Ft. Collins to 24-7-1;

— The 40,314 in attendance marked the first time in Colorado State history that the Rams had played before a home audience in excess of 40,000. The previous high was 39,107 for a game against Utah in 1994, with that game being played at the old Hughes Stadium. The highest previous attendance for the Rams at Canvas Stadium was for the stadium’s debut in 2017, when 37,583 were on hand for the season opener against Oregon State;

— Linebacker Nate Landman led the defense, with 14 tackles (eight solo), with a sack, three tackles for loss and two passes broken up. For his efforts, Landman was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12 in Week One (non- conference losses in bold) … 

  • Hawai’i 27, Arizona 24 (Week Zero)
  • California 28, UNLV 7 (Week Zero)
  • UCLA 35, New Mexico State 20 (Week Zero)
  • No. 3 Alabama 34, No. 13 USC 17
  • No. 9 Oregon 48, North Dakota State 31
  • No. 13 Texas A&M 59, Abilene Christian 7
  • No. 15 Michigan 30, Washington 24
  • No. 16 Oklahoma State 38, Oregon State 27
  • No. 20 Utah 20, BYU 17
  • Arizona 37, Portland State 10
  • Arizona State 49, Northern Arizona 13
  • Hawai’i 27, UCLA 20
  • TCU 24, California 17
  • Stanford 42, William and Mary 7
  • Washington State 24, Utah State 21

Pac-12 … Week One .. Noteworthy games

The Clay Helton Watch got underway before Labor Day as USC was no match for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Trojans, ranked 17th in the preseason polls, were nonetheless dominated by No. 3 Alabama in a game played in Arlington, Texas … Oregon was more than challenged by FCS champion North Dakota State. The game was tied, at 31-31, early in the fourth quarter before the Ducks pulled away for a 48-31 victory … Washington had its chances against No. 15 Michigan at home, with two drives into Wolverine territory late while only down a score, at 30-24, but a fumble and a turnover on downs prevented the upset … Oregon State held its own on the road against No. 16 Oklahoma State, staying with the Cowboys for most of the game before succumbing, 38-27 … Kevin Sumlin’s tenure at Arizona became tenuous as the Wildcats lost for the second year in a row to the Rainbow Warriors, this time at home, 27-24 … BYU jumped out to an early lead against Utah, but couldn’t hold it, falling for the 10th straight time against the Utes, in a 20-17 final dominated by defenses (and/or sluggish offenses) … UCLA was unimpressive in its “Week Zero” opener against New Mexico State (35-20) and then became the second Pac-12 South team to fall to Hawai’i in the first two weeks of the 2020 season, losing on the islands, 27-20 …


*** Alternate Universe *** – CU Game One

September 5th – Ft. Collins        Colorado 57, Colorado State 3

Freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis was stellar in his starting debut, posting CU’s third-ever 300-yard passing, 100-yard rushing effort in a 57-3 romp over Colorado State. Lewis threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 118 yards (on only 12 carries), contributing another two touchdowns on the ground as the Buffs dominated their in-state rival.

Karl Dorrell won his first game as the head coach at Colorado, unleashing a team which was dominant on both sides of the ball. The Buffs rushed out to a 28-0 first quarter lead, taking a a 38-3 lead into halftime and never looking back.

Senior wide receiver K.D. Nixon collected a team-high nine receptions, going for 144 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Alex Fontenot followed up his three-touchdown, 125-yard effort against the Rams in 2019 with a three-touchdown, 106-yard game in Ft. Collins. “I wish we could play these guys every week”, Fontenot said. “It was great to see all of that black-and-gold (probably 60-40 CU fans) in the stands, and to quiet that Ram crowd so quickly”.

“It’s a satisfying win”, said Dorrell after the game, “but it’s just one victory. We have beaten the Rams six straight seasons, but have gone bowling only one of those years. There is still plenty of work to be done”.

CSU head coach Steve Addazio also made his debut as head coach, but was booed off of the field at the end of the contest by the few remaining Ram fans left in the stands. For his part, Addazio was terse after the loss. “We weren’t as ready as I thought we were”, Addazio said. “We knew as coaches coming in to this season that there would need to be adjustments in the lineup. Perhaps now the players will understand that they need to pay attention to the coaching staff”.


6 Replies to “*Colorado 38, CSU 17*”

  1. This is fantastic! It’s great to know that even if we can’t get the excitement of live football this season, we can get some of the warm afterglow of reading about a CU victory in the news the next day.

  2. Looking forward to following this all season, especially the alternative universe. All roads lead to Miami in that universe.

  3. all well and good Stu but I wonder if Audacio survives as coach. He might plead the racist thing away with context and possibly over sensitive reactions from a few players but if he was covering up positive tests I cant see him being around much longer. The CSU program has enough debt as it is without a huge lawsuit.

  4. Who knows how this game would’ve gone if it wasn’t for that pick in the 3rd. Great to win in ft Collins though. Go buffs!

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