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December 12th – at Boulder            Utah 38, No. 21 Colorado 21

Utah went on a 28-0 run in the second half to turn a 21-10 deficit into a 38-21 victory over No. 21 Colorado. Utah freshman running back Ty Jordan, held in check most of the snowy afternoon in Boulder, broke free for a 66-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach after Colorado failed to convert a fourth-and-five in Utah territory down 27-21 with five minutes remaining.

Colorado quarterback Sam Noyer went 16-for-34 for 258 yards and two touchdowns, but also had an interception and a fumble. Jarek Broussard had his career-opening string of 100-yard games come to an end, collecting 80 yards on 14 carries. The lone breakout player for the Buffs on the day was freshman wide receiver Brenden Rice, who had an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half, and a 61-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter

The game, the earliest kickoff in Folsom Field history (10:05 a.m.), was played in frosty conditions (23-degrees at kickoff, after several inches of snow had blanketed the field overnight). In addition to losing their first game of the season, the Buffs lost their leading tackler, Butkus Award semi-finalist Nate Landman, to a season-ending injury in the first half.

“It’s unfortunate, our guys are disappointed and most of our disappointment is because of our own shooting ourselves in the foot, more so than anything”, Karl Dorrell said. “The turnovers—we had a few dropped passes that were some conversions on third down, that could have happened. We just didn’t play our normal selves”.

On the day, Utah out-gained Colorado, 432 yards to 372, but held onto the ball for 36:11 of game clock, and committed only one turnover. “We’ve still got a lot of work to kind of refine and finish and execute,” said Dorrell. “We just have to get back to the drawing board and do things better.”

Game Story … With a snowy field and an empty stadium, Colorado won the toss and deferred. A defensive showdown was expected, so putting the Buff defense on the field first made sense … until Utah quickly marched down the field and scored.

With a 40-yard kickoff return by Britain Covey, the Utes needed to cover only 60 yards to score, and took only six plays to do so. The only third down on the drive was a third-and-goal at the CU seven yard line, with Jake Bentley hitting Solomon Enis for the score and a 7-0 Utah lead less than three minutes into the game.

Maurice Bell returned the ensuing kickoff to the CU 45-yard line, but a holding penalty on the return set the Buffs back at their ten yard line. Five plays and 12 yards later, the Buffs punted the ball away, with Utah setting up shop at their own 45.

After surrendering a 19-yard completion on Utah’s first play, the Buff defense stiffened, forcing a punt, which was downed at CU five yard line. A quick three-and-out later, the Utes again had great field position, taking over at their own 45.

The Utes, despite having a short field for their third straight drive, punted the ball right back to the Buffs.

On the second play of CU’s next drive, quarterback Sam Noyer hit K.D. Nixon for 41 yards and a first down inside of Utah territory. Instead of taking advantage, however, Sam Noyer fumbled the ball away on the very next play, giving the ball right back to the Utes. The Buff defense, though, was having none of it, forcing another three-and-out.

On the final play of the first quarter, San Noyer hit La’Vontae Shenault for CU’s second 41-yard completion of the game, setting the Buffs up at the Utah 35-yard line. Three runs, including a five-yard run by Noyer on third-and-two, kept the drive alive. Then, on third-and-nine, Noyer hit Maurice Bell for a 21-yard touchdown, tying the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Utes started moving the ball on their next possession, converting on third-and-10 and third-and-nine to maintain possession. On the eighth play of the drive, on a first-and-ten at the CU 39-yard line, a Jake Bentley offering was tipped in the backfield, with Buff defensive back Mehki Blackmon intercepting the pass at the Buff 18-yard line.

Two completions from Noyer to Daniel Arias, covering 20 yards and 13 yards (the latter on third-and-10), pushed the ball into Utah territory. The Buffs, though, only pushed the ball as far as the Utah 37-yard line before having to punt.

On Utah’s next possession, on a simple incompletion on second-and-seven at the Utah 23, the Buffs suffered a huge loss, with Butkus Award semi-finalist Nate Landman going down with a non-contact injury. The Buff defense, though, stiffened without their leader, with Landman’s roommate and running mate at the linebacker position, Carson Wells, sacking Jake Bentley on third down to end the drive.

The punt from Utah kicker Ben Lennon went 42 yards, pushing Brenden Rice back to the CU 19-yard line for an over-the-shoulder catch. From there, Rice went virtually untouched, scoring on an 81-yard punt return to give Colorado a 14-7 lead with 1:30 left in the half.

The Buff defense forced a quick three-and-out from the Utes, with the CU offense taking over at their 23 with 51 seconds left. The Buffs were content to run out the clock, but Jarek Broussard fumbled the ball away with 13 seconds remaining. Two short completions later, the Utes were able to get on the board with a 42-yard field goal by Jadon Redding.

Halftime score: Colorado 14, Utah 10

La’Vontae Shenault returned the second half kickoff 39 yards, and it took the Buffs all of one play to score. Sam Noyer connected with Brenden Rice on a short screen, with the freshman wide receiver doing the rest. The 61-yard touchdown gave the Buffs a 21-10 lead just 21 seconds into the second half.

The Buffs’ double-digit lead, though, would last less than two minutes. A face mask penalty on the kickoff gave Utah the ball at their 40-yard line. A 35-yard run by Ty Jordan was followed by an 18-yard touchdown run two plays later. Just like that, the new score was 21-17 … less than two minutes into the third quarter.

A three-yard completion on third-and-four netted a three-and-out for the CU offense on its next possession. The Utes then pieced together a ten-play, 80-yard drive, with a 30-yard completion and two penalties against the Buff defense aiding the cause. On a third down, Jake Bentley hit a wide open Britain Covey for a 20-yard touchdown. Utah 24, Colorado 21, midway through the third quarter.

Could the Buffs answer?

Nope.

After a 17-yard Jarek Broussard run to open the drive, quarterback Sam Noyer dropped back to pass … had time … and threw the ball right to Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell, who returned the interception 11 yards to the midfield.

The Buff defense had their chances on the ensuing drive, but failed to make plays. On a second-and-10 to open the drive, the Buffs were poised to sack Jake Bentley, but the Utah quarterback escaped for a 13-yard run. Later, CU safety Derrion Rakestraw had Utah tight end Brant Kuithe corralled for a loss, but missed the tackle, allowing Kuithe to gain ten yards. The Utes were poised to take a two-score lead of their own, with a third-and-goal at the CU one yard line, but an incomplete pass on third down and a bad snap on fourth down turned the ball back over to the Buffs.

The CU offense seemed to have something going on its next drive, with Jarek Broussard touching the ball straight plays, gaining 34 yards. Then Broussard left the game … and the Buffs lost four yards on the next three plays, punting the ball back to the Utes.

A 28-yard punt return by Britain Covey gave Utah the ball near midfield (again), taking over at the Utah 47-yard line. Seven plays and 28 yards later, Utah kicker Jadon Redding was called up for his second field goal attempt of the game. The 43-yarder was good, giving the Utes a 27-21 lead with 9:19 left in the game.

The Buffs moved the ball into Utah territory on their next drive, giving the Buffs a chance to pull off the comeback. On a third-and-two, Jarek Broussard went for seven yards to gain one first down, with Tyler Lytle subbing for a briefly injured Sam Noyer, picking up another first down with a 15-yard run on third-and-four. But, the Buff drive stalled thereafter. Facing a fourth-and-five at the Utah 34 with 4:59 remaining, CU head coach Karl Dorrell decided to go for the first down. The Sam Noyer pass, however, was batted down by Utah linebacker Mika Tafua, giving the ball back to the Utes.

It took only one play for the Utes to end the game.

On Utah’s first play from scrimmage, Utah running back Ty Jordan, who had been held in check for most of the game, went straight up the middle of the Colorado defense, going 66 yards for the touchdown. A two-point conversion later, and the Utes run, after falling behind 21-10, reached 24 points. Utah 35, Colorado 21, with just under five minutes remaining.

Four straight incompletions on CU’s next possession gave the ball back to Utah at the Buff 18-yard line. The Utes tacked on another field goal, just to make the final score that much worse.

Final score: Utah 38, No. 21 Colorado 21

“I do believe this team has really good character”, said Dorrell after the game when asked about CU’s first loss of the season. “I do feel that. In the locker room, there is disappointment but there is also understanding of why they are disappointed. They knew where the issues were as to why we lost today. That tells you a lot about their growth as a team when they can basically say, ‘Coach, this was our problem today.’ The mindset now is to get those things fixed to get ready for next week. There is still a lot of enthusiasm about finishing the season in a strong way”.

Sam Noyer, who had 258 yards passing and two touchdowns, but also had two turnovers, was quiet in the post-game locker room. “They had a great secondary defense”, Noyer said (despite the fact that Utah has four new starters in the secondary, including two true freshmen). “They are a well-coached team. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to in the second half, but as I said, they were just a good team and they outperformed us.”

Many of the Buff defenders were sorry to see Nate Landman, their captain and leading tackler, go down with a season-ending ankle injury. “I hate to see it, just because I know how much work Nate (Landman) has put into this, and I know how much he wants it,” said safety Derrion Rakestraw. “I just felt for him, and I want him to have a quick easy recovery. I want to see him back on the field.  I definitely felt for him and felt like we had to play for him.  It’s upsetting to know that we didn’t get it done.”

Game Notes … 

— Utah’s win was the eighth in 10 meetings since both teams joined the Pac-12, tying the series at 32-32-2 (the first time tied since 23-23-1).  The Utes’ win was their fourth straight against the Buffs;

— CU fell to 0-8 when wearing all-black uniforms (so, can we stop doing that?);

—  TB Jarek Broussard’s (14 carries, 80 yards) fumble was in the 2020 season by a CU running back (on the 166th attempt by a running back), and the first loss suffered by a running back in 19 games (Travon McMillian had the only fumble in 2019, coming against Washington State);

— The 23-degree temperature at kickoff marked the 10th coldest for a CU game (and the seventh coldest at home).  At halftime, it “warmed” to 24 degrees; at the game’s end, it was back to 23;

— Junior WR Maurice Bell had his first career touchdown reception; CB Mekhi Blackmon has his first career interception;

— Freshman Brenden Rice had an 81-yard punt return for a score, and a 61-yard touchdown reception. The last Buff to score a touchdown in the same game by reception and return (punt or kickoff) was WR Walter Stanley against Texas Tech on Sept. 12, 1981 (2 receiving, 1 punt); ironically, his son Dimitri had key blocks on both today. The punt return is tied for the 12th longest in school history, and was the first since Sept. 9, 2017, when Laviska Shenault was credited with one for 55 yards against Texas Tech (scooped up a fumble); Isaiah Oliver returned one 68 yards against UCLA on Nov. 3, 2016.  It was the longest since Ben Kelly had an 88-yard return for a score against Boston College in the 1999 Insight.com Bowl;

— Senior linebacker Nate Landman had six first half tackles before his was injured. If he doesn’t return, he will have finished his CU career with 337 tackles, 11th all-time (with 46 third down stops, third all-time).

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19 Replies to “Utah 38, No. 21 Colorado 21”

  1. Enuff blame to go around………..including the coaching.

    I’m still flummoxed by Chev’s penchant to run the ball right into the middle of the D-line on the first two downs…especially when the “D” knows that’s what he’s going to do. Then, that leaves (yes) 3rd and 9 deep (as in DEEP ) in your own territory.

    Enuff “pissy” comments. Ya gotta love the Buffs having good personnel, good coaching, for the most part, and a bright future.

    GO BUFFS

  2. Buffs miss Brady Russell more than anyone mentions. Not one completion to a tight end today. When Brady was healthy he was a huge part of our offense.

  3. I see Tyler Lytle is transferring out. Highest recruited QB in a while. I guess he just never showed the coaches enough to even get a sniff at playing time. Good Luck Tyler where ever you end up. An long as it isn’t with the bugeaters…. So, anybody have any idea on how Brendon Lewis is doing?
    Noyer is a great story, love his heart, but a qb rating of 49 leaves room for improvement.

  4. Thought the Buffs played hard and no problems with the game plan. Turnovers look bad on the stat sheet but they simply lost to a team that played better. A lot of little things that could have extended drives on O, or stopped drives on D. Defense got sloppy dropping shoulders for the big hit and not wrapping up on tackles allowed Utes to get a LOT of extra yards. Feel so bad for Landman. D needs to figure out how to play without him. Would love to see the Buffs play Oregon.

  5. Tough loss, yes! But I’m so proud of this team and coaching staff. They have been a huge bright spot in 2020. We have a lot to look forward to in 2021 and this team has built the foundation to keep CU relevant and I n contention for a PAC 12 Championship

  6. In the coulda, woulda, shoulda department, this team was within an inch of being up 23-10 early in the second half. The blitz came within an inch of tackling the Utah QB on the goal line (for a safety). This would have given C.U. the ball on a punt/kickoff with a 13 point lead and HUGE momentum. Instead, the QB escapes for a third down conversion. Utah continues the drive and reduces the game to only a four-point C.U. lead. That aggressive, and almost successful, blitz (one of three I saw that came within inches of succeeding during the game), slippery field, and “just off” tackling angles in those conditions, combined to hurt the chances of a win for a C.U. team that was pulling out all of the stops. This would have been a GREAT win for the team, Coach Dorrell, and, in particular, Nate Landman. On paper, yes, a big loss, but, if things had come up differently, quite possibly, a different result. Yes, football is a game of inches.

  7. Great season Buffs.. Wrong about Coach KD.. The other KD Heal up and maybe play next year sit out already..Landman loss was devastating.. But the Rookie first coaching finally caught up with us.. Also, must recruit, our current recruiting class ok.. Preferred walk ons. A joke.. Go Buffs Comment once a year..

  8. Loss of Landman was big and perhaps a key reason the Buffs lost the game. His leadership and talent contribute a lot to the D. With that being said, losing one player should not mean so much to a team and points out lack of depth. I don’t think losing Landman should be used as an excuse and KD would not do so anyway. Noyer helped bring the Buffs to this point and played a positive role. But he is certainly regressing, not improving. I hear that CU may have 1 or 2 more games but that seems uncertain given the Covid situation? If yes, why not put the other QBs to give them experience? At this point, the Pac 12 title game is out of reach so it seems wise to build toward next year.

    1. Agree. I was hoping KD would leave Lytle in after Noyer went out. Sam is a decent QB, but has some obvious problems…like the inability to see defenders. Would like to see what the other guys can do.

  9. We lost this game when we lost Landman. Still a great season. 4-1 with a legit shot at 5-1 is a great season….

    Best of luck to Landman in the NFL. He will be missed. A lot of work to do to replace him. For our next games this season and next year.

    I still love this team. In a rough 2020 they have been a consistent bright spot. I believe this lines us up against Oregon who I believe has a porous run defense. Back to what we do great, run the ball.

    1. Even more so now. I dont blame Tyler for taking off. I’m not surprised either. You could see his body language when he was yanked after a couple of successful plays.

  10. Tough to watch gashes right through the middle of the D……especially since the same happened last week with the same personnel. Competitive but need to recruit some more depth…..with that said still fun to watch a buff game in Dec that meant something,

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