** Note ** … The 2020 Fall non-conference schedule was canceled. But that shouldn’t stop those of us who need a football fix from writing and reading about our Buffs. Below is a version of how I envisioned CU’s non-conference schedule playing 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. 

This weekend: Game Three … September 19th should have been CU’s trip to College Station to play Texas A&M, which would have likely come into the game as a Top Ten team.

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 19th – at College Station           No. 9 Texas A&M 30, Colorado 16

The Buffs had their chances, but failed red zone opportunities and turnovers were too much for the Buffs to overcome, as No. 9 Texas A&M took care of business at home against Colorado, 30-16. Quarterback Kellen Mond threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns as the Aggies dominated early, then held off a second half rally by the Buffs to post their first win over Colorado since 2008.

Buff quarterback Tyler Lytle had 194 yards passing, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked three times as the Colorado offense struggled to maintain consistency. Still, the Buffs could have pulled off the upset had they not settled for three field goals in four red zone opportunities. “We had our chances”, CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We will learn from this game. We don’t have much choice. We have a tough Oregon team coming to Boulder next weekend, and we have to keep our heads up and keep moving forward”.

Game story … On one side of the ball, the home team had a four-year starter at quarterback. On the other side of the ball, the visiting team had a quarterback making his third career start.

And early on, the discrepancy in experience showed.

On the opening drive of the game, senior quarterback Kellen Mond led the Aggies on an eight-play, 75-yard drive to take the early lead. The Texas A&M offense did not face a third down on the drive, capped by a 13-yard touchdown run by running back Isaiah Spiller.

The Buffs, meanwhile, looked disjointed on offense, as a Kyle Field crowd of 101,229 made their presence felt. The Buffs went three-and-out on their first possession, with a false start and a sack of quarterback Tyler Lytle netting an opening drive of minus-eight yards.

After a 31-yard effort by Buff punter Josh Watts, the Aggies took over on the CU side of the field. Again, the A&M offense was effective, pushing the ball inside the CU red zone in only five plays. There, however, the Buff defense stiffened, forcing a 22-yard field goal by Aggie kicker Seth Small.

10-0, Texas A&M, with 8:54 still to play in the first quarter.

Just when the national ESPN2 audience was looking for their remotes to switch to a more competitive game to watch, the Buffs calmed down and became competitive.

A 12-yard run on a reverse by K.D. Nixon gave the Buffs their first first down of the contest, with a screen pass from Lytle to running back Alex Fontenot going for 19 yards to give the CU offense some confidence. Three runs by Fontenot covering 14 yards, and a nine-yard completion from Lytle to tight end Brady Russell, gave CU a first down at the A&M 19-yard line. There the drive stalled, however, with CU settling for a 36-yard field goal by James Stefanou to make it a 10-3 game late in the first.

Not discouraged by the Buff resurgence, the A&M offense easily drove down the field once again. A 27-yard run by Isaiah Spiller and a 22-yard completion from Mond to wide receiver Demond Demas were the highlights as the Aggies strung together a nine-play, 65-yard drive. A sack of Mond by defensive end Terrence Lang, however, ended the threat, with A&M settling for a 30-yard field goal and a 13-3 lead early in the second quarter.

The lead was up to 20-3 a few minutes later.

Tyler Lytle was trying to hit Dimitri Stanley across the middle, but the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage, intercepted by senior cornerback Myles Jones, who returned the miscue to the Buff 11-yard line. Two plays later, Kellen Mond hit Demas for a seven-yard touchdown and a 20-3 A&M advantage.

A 42-yard completion from Lytle to freshman wide receiver Brenden Rice gave the Buffs new life on the ensuing drive, putting the ball at the A&M 27. From there, Jaren Mangham took over, with the sophomore running back carrying the ball on four straight plays, setting up the Buffs with a first-and-goal at the Aggie nine-yard line. Three straight incompletions, though, halted the drive, with the Buffs settling for a 26-yard Stefanou field goal.

Halftime score: No. 9 Texas A&M 20, Colorado 6

The Buffs’ first drive of the second half mirrored their final drive of the second quarter. Again, a big play – this time, a 35-yard run by Alex Fontenot – gave the CU offense another opportunity. Again, however, the Buffs were unable to capitalize. A 17-yard completion from Lytle to Daniel Arias put the ball on the A&M 16-yard line, but thereafter three runs netted only seven yards. James Stefanou was called upon again, making him three-for-three on the evening, hitting a 26-yard field goal to make it a 20-9 game.

Texas A&M used its first possession of the second half to drain most of the remaining third quarter clock. A 14-play, 77-yard drive was seemingly capped by a four-yard Spiller touchdown run, but holding was called on the play, wiping the touchdown from the scoreboard. The Aggies then had to settle for a 27-yard field goal, upping the A&M advantage to 23-9 late in the third.

The Buffs, though, weren’t ready to concede. The offense put together its most consistent drive of the game, covering 75 yards in 13 plays to post their only touchdown of the game. Jaren Mangham, who would go on to lead the Buffs in rushing with 89 yards on 18 carries, had five carries for 27 yards on the drive, which was capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Lytle to K.D. Nixon.

Early in the fourth quarter, it was a game again, at 23-16.

The Kyle Field crowd grew a little nervous as the Buff defense forced its first three-and-out of the game on A&M’s next possession. The Buff offense was then able to get the ball to midfield before the drive came to a sudden halt as Lytle threw his second interception of the game. Trying to tie the game with a long pass to Daniel Arias, Lytle didn’t account for safety Leon O’Neal, Jr., who returned the pick to the A&M 40-yard line.

Looking to put the game away, the Aggies went to the ground to chew up yardage and clock. It took 12 plays to cover only 60 yards, but the A&M offense didn’t care. The drive took 7:22 off of the fourth quarter clock. When running back Isaiah Spiller went over from the one-yard line with 4:11 left to play, the home fans were finally able to breath easy.

Final score: No. 9 Texas A&M 30, Colorado 16

“I like the way our team competed”, Karl Dorrell said after absorbing his first loss as the head coach at Colorado. “We were able to move the ball between the 20s, but were not able to capitalize. We got down early, and could have folded our tents, but we kept our poise, and gave ourselves a chance at a victory”.

“This one is on me”, said quarterback Tyler Lytle. “We had our chances in the red zone, but I made some poor decisions. When you have four drives inside the red zone, you need to come away with more than one touchdown”.

The Aggies had 448 yards of total offense, to only 378 yards for the Buffs. For the second straight game, the CU offense failed to generate either a 100-yard rusher (led by Jaren Mangham – 89 yards on 18 carries) or a 100-yard receiver (led by K.D. Nixon – five catches for 67 yards).

Up next: No. 10 Oregon … Oregon had a more little difficulty than expected before taking out Hawai’i at home. The Ducks, who came into the game as the No. 12 team in the nation, led only 20-14 at halftime, but pulled away in the second half for a 41-21 victory.

Game Notes … 

— The game against Texas A&M was the first between the two teams since Colorado left the Big 12 for the Pac-12. The result left Colorado with a 6-4 all-time edge in the series, with A&M holding a 3-2 advantage in games played in College Station.

— The 101,229 crowed represented the largest crowd to watch a CU/Texas A&M, and the sixth-largest crowd to ever watch a CU game;

— The game represented the first of a home-and-home between the two teams, with the Aggies coming to Colorado for the 2021 season. The game will be played at Mile High stadium in Denver on September 11, 2021.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12 in Week Three (Pac-12 non-conference losses in italics) … 

  • USC 28, Stanford 17
  • No. 12 Oregon 41, Hawai’i 21
  • No. 15 Utah 24, Wyoming 20
  • No. 22 Arizona State 20, BYU 17
  • Washington 33, Utah State 21
  • San Diego State 33, UCLA 30
  • Texas Tech 37, Arizona 20
  • Oregon State 38, Portland State 7
  • Washington State 41, Idaho 14
  • Cal … Idle

Noteworthy … The Buffs were not the only Pac-12 South team to lose as most of the conference wound up their non-conference calendar. The Kevin Sumlin watch began in earnest as Arizona fell to Texas Tech, 37-20. The loss left Arizona with a 1-3 record overall. The Wildcats’ next opponent, UCLA, was also put into a “must-win” situation after blowing a 27-13 halftime lead to San Diego State, falling 33-30. The Bruins finished the non-conference slate with a 1-2 record, and calls for the dismissal of head coach Chip Kelly. Elsewhere, USC opened up conference play with a road win over rival Stanford, 28-17, continuing the Trojans’ bounce back after a season-opening loss to Alabama. Both of the Pac-12 South’s ranked teams, No. 15 Utah and No. 22 Arizona State, won but struggled, with Utah escaping Laramie with a 24-20 win over Wyoming, while Arizona State needed a late rally to hold off BYU, 20-17.

In the rankings … With its victory over Stanford, USC, which had been just outside of the polls the previous week, reentered the polls at No. 24. Oregon returned to the Top Ten, ready to face Colorado as the No. 10 team in the country. Utah and Arizona State, with unimpressive wins, did not move up in the polls, holding steady at No. 15 and No. 22, respectively. The only other Pac-12 receiving votes was Washington, in at No. 28 (with 67 votes) …

Pac-12 Standings Week Two Up Next
North DivisionPac-12Overall
Washington State0-03-0at Oregon State
Stanford1-12-1at UCLA
California0-02-1No. 15 Utah
No. 10 Oregon0-02-1Colorado
Washington0-02-1Idle (Oct. 3rd – at No. 10 Oregon)
Oregon State0-02-1Washington State
South DivisionPac-12Overall
No. 24 USC1-02-1No. 22 Arizona State
No. 15 Utah0-03-0at California
No. 22 Arizona State0-03-0at No. 24 USC
Colorado0-02-1at No. 10 Oregon
UCLA0-01-2Stanford
Arizona0-11-3Idle (next: 10/3 at UCLA)

*** Alternate Universe *** – CU Game Three

September 19th – at College Station        Colorado 24, No. 9 Texas A&M 21

James Stefanou hit a 47-yard field goal as time expired as the Buffs stunned No. 9 Texas A&M in College Station. The Buffs took advantage of big plays on offense and timely stops on defense to pull of the upset. Alex Fontenot had a 44-yard touchdown run for one score, with a pair of freshmen – quarterback Brendon Lewis and wide receiver Brenden Rice – teaming up for an 89-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to stun the home crowd of 101,229.

The Aggies jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but then squandered opportunities the rest of the evening. Linebacker Nate Landman had a sack of quarterback Kellen Mond at the Buff eight to end one drive with a field goal, with Mehki Blackmon and Quinn Perry each picking off Mond passes deep inside CU territory to end other threats.

Texas A&M seemed to be in position to avoid the upset shortly after an eight-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to K.D. Nixon had tied the score at 21-21 midway through the fourth quarter. The Aggies marched down the field, and was well within field goal range with less than two minutes to play when Buff defensive lineman Antonio Alfano tackled A&M running back Isaiah Spiller behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a fumble. The ball was picked up by Nate Landman, who returned the fumble to midfield. Two passes from Brendon Lewis to tight end Brady Russell gained 19 yards, setting up James Stefanou’s game-winning kick.

“Ecstatic. That’s all I can say”, said head coach Karl Dorrell, who ran his record to 3-0 as CU’s head coach. “I can’t say enough about how this team played together, stayed together when we got down early. You could tell that they were affected by the crowd early, but then they settled down and played football”.

With the win, the Buffs re-entered the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2016, jumping to No. 21 in the nation. The win set up a showdown with No. 10 Oregon to open Pac-12 play …

Previously Posted … 

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