November 26th – at Utah            No. 16 Utah 28, Colorado 13

Quarterback Cameron Rising threw for three touchdown passes, and two Ute running backs had over 100 yards rushing apiece as No. 16 slowly pulled away from Colorado, defeating the Buffs, 28-13. The Buff offense, which ended the season with its lowest total yard average since 1964, had only 148 total yards, with an interception return to the Utah 15 by safety Mark Perry and a 100-yard kickoff return by Nikko Reed supplying 10 of CU’s 13 points.

Buff quarterback Brendon Lewis finished the season with the CU freshman record for consecutive passes without an interception, but completed only 9-of-23 passes for 84 yards. With Jarek Broussard out with an illness, Alex Fontenot was the Buffs’ leading rusher … with 28 yards on ten carries.

The Buffs played short-handed on both sides of the ball. Linebacker Nate Landman missed his sixth game, along with fellow linebackers Jack Lamb, Guy Thomas and Joshka Gustav. Defensive backs Mekhi Blackmon and Kaylin Moore were also out. On offense, receivers Brenden Rice and Montana Lemonious-Craig, along with Broussard, didn’t see the field in CU’s final game of the 2021 season.

“Everybody feels that we have that foundation to build from moving forward,” Dorrell said. “It’s unfortunate — I would love to have started the offseason with a win, winning this game and using that as juice to get some things going for us in a positive way into the offseason, but there’s enough of a good feel on this team. We feel like we’re close.”

Game Story … If you are a 24-point underdog on the road, and you hope to have a chance at a victory, you need an early break. Colorado got just that on the fourth play of the game when Utah quarterback Cameron Rising was intercepted by Colorado safety Mark Perry, who returned the pick 40 yards to the Utah 15-yard line.

If you are a 24-point underdog on the road, and you hope to have a chance at a victory, you have to convert on turnovers. The Buff offense took the field with a chance at an early touchdown … but gained zero yards in three plays. CU did take a 3-0 lead when kicker Cole Becker connected on a 33-yard field goal, but it felt like an opportunity missed.

Surprisingly down to the Buffs, the Utah offense set off on a 14-play drive to reassert control. Converting on two third downs along the way, the Utes chewed up over eight minutes of first quarter clock … but came up empty. Defensive tackle Na’im Rodman tackled Utah star running back Tavion Thomas on third down to force a field goal attempt, with the scoreboard remaining at 3-0 when Terrance Lang blocked Jadon Redding’s 37-yard field goal attempt.

Buoyed by the stop by the defense, the Buff offense set off on its first drive of the game. A 13-yard run by quarterback Brendon Lewis on third-and-six started the drive, with a 29-yard completion from Lewis to Dimitri Stanley giving CU a first down in Utah territory. After the completion to Stanley, however, the Buff drive stalled, with Cole Becker brought in for his second attempt of the game. The 48-yard effort was wide right, however, keeping the score at 3-0.

On Utah’s third drive of the game, the Ute offense asserted itself. The Utes needed only seven plays to cover 70 yards to take the lead. Quarterback Cameron Rising hit tight end Brant Kuithe for a 19-yard touchdown, and, just over a quarter after the Buffs had taken the lead, it was 7-3, Utah.

The Buffs responded to their first deficit of the game … by going backwards. It wasn’t bad enough that the Buffs went three-and-out, but two penalties – including a penalty on the fourth down by Josh Watts, forcing a re-kick. On Watts’ second punt, Brittain Covey returned the punt 16 yards to the Colorado 39-yard line.

With a short field, the Utes made short work of its next possession. It took Utah only five plays to extend its lead, with Cameron Rising connecting with Dalton Kincaid for a 28-yard touchdown. With just over eight minutes left in the half, the new score was 14-3, Utah.

The Colorado offense, for third time in four first half drives, went three-and-out, giving the Utes the ball back on their 39-yard line. Poised to make the game a rout, however, the Utes got a little greedy. The Utes drove deep into Buff territory, and faced a fourth-and-two at the Colorado 24-yard line. Instead of kicking a field goal for a 17-3 lead, the Utes went for a first down. Quarterback Cameron Rising was stuffed by senior Buff defensive lineman Carson Wells, giving the ball back to the Buffs with 3:14 left in the half.

A two-yard run by Alex Fontenot prevented yet another three-and-out for the Buffs, with Fontenot breaking off for a 12-yard run on third-and-one three plays later. A seven-yard completion from Brendon Lewis to tight end Brady Russell was just enough to give Cole Becker his third chance of the half. On the final play of the quarter, Becker was good from 56-yards out.

Halftime score: No. 16 Utah 14, Colorado 6

The halftime stats were all too familiar for the Colorado offense: Utah had 219 yards of offense; Colorado had 82. The Utes had 12 first downs; the Buffs had four.

And yet, it was still a one-score game.

It became a one-point game when defensive back Nikko Reed, subbing for an injured Brenden Rice, returned the second half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, in less than 20 seconds of game clock, the score had gone from 14-3 to 14-13.

With their lead challenged, the Utah offense took charge. The Utes launched a quick scoring drive, needing only seven plays to cover 68 yards. Plays covering 13, 11, and 16 yards made it look easy. The touchdown drive was finished off by a 12-yard Tavion Thomas run, giving Utah a 21-13 advantage three minutes into the third quarter.

Still down only one score, the Buff offense … went backwards. A holding penalty and a sack left the Buffs with a fourth-and-28, with the Utes taking over at midfield after a 48-yard punt and a six-yard return by Brittain Covey.

Five plays later, it was 28-13, with Covey doing most of the damage. A 33-yard completion from Rising to Covey was followed a few plays later by a 13-yard touchdown pass. Just like that, it was now a 28-13 game midway through the third quarter.

The Colorado offense did generate a first down on its next drive, with a seven-yard run by Brendon Lewis on third-and-one giving the Buffs their sixth first down … and pushing the CU offense over 100 yards of total offense on the afternoon. That was as far as the Buffs would progress, however, with CU punting the ball back to Utah late in the third quarter.

Thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Utes, the Buff defense was able to force a punt out of the Utes after only four plays. A 14-yard punt return by Chase Penry set the Buffs up at their 40-yard line with the game still in doubt.

The CU offense had some success on its next possession, with Deion Smith breaking off on a 16-yard run to open the drive. Two plays later, facing a third-and-seven at the Utah 41, Brendon Lewis hit Dimitri Stanley for 15 yards and a first down. The Buffs would go no further, though, with CU turning the ball over on downs when a fourth-and-seven Lewis pass fell incomplete.

The Buff defense almost forced its first three-and-out of the game, but an 11-yard run by quarterback Cameron Rising on third-and-ten gave Utah a fresh set of downs. The next play was a 31-yard run by T.J. Pledger, giving Utah a first down at the CU 35-yard line. Three plays later, the Utes faced a fourth-and-one at the Buff 26, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham eschewed the 43-yard field goal attempt which would have made it a three-score game. Instead, a Cameron Rising pass was incomplete, leaving it a 28-13 game midway through the fourth quarter.

With one last chance to make a game of it, the Buffs … went three-and-out, with Brendon Lewis sacked for a nine-yard loss on third-and-four.

Utah didn’t score on its next drive, but the mission was accomplished. Seven plays chewed up almost four minutes of clock, with Utah punting the ball back to Colorado with only 2:25 left to play. The Buffs were able to generate one first down on their final drive, but soon thereafter turned the ball over on downs.

Final score: No. 16 Utah 28, Colorado 13

Utah finished with two 100-yard rushers – Tavion Thomas had 142 yards and a touchdown in 25 carries, while T.J. Pledger had 103 yards on 13 carries – while the Buffs had 64 yards on 32 carries (which works out to a easy-to-figure-out 2.0-yards/game). The final tally: 444 yards of total offense for Utah; 148 for Colorado. The Utes averaged 7.8 yards per play; the Buffs averaged 3.7.

About as lopsided as it has been all season for the 4-8, 3-6 Buffs.

And yet …

“This is the closest team I’ve been on since I’ve been here in terms of camaraderie and how much we trust each other and believe in each other,” junior tight end Brady Russell said. “I think our offseason and the things we did leading up to it helped with that a lot. Loving each other and being so close made us want to fight for each other. You want to win for the guy next to you.”

A great sentiment … now all the Buffs had to do was take the next nine months to make the “winning” part happen.

Game Notes

— The win gave Utah a 33-32-3 lead in the overall series, with a 19-14-2 lead in games played in Salt Lake City;

— CU finished the season with an 0-3 record against ranked teams;

— Brady Russell became the first tight end to lead the team in receiving, both catches and yards, since Riar Geer in 2006; Russell, Geer and Daniel Graham (2001) are the only three tight ends to lead in both categories since 1984;

— The Buffs set the school mark for scoring percentage Inside-the-20 (Red Zone), scoring 31-of-33 times (20 touchdowns/11 field goals); 93.9 percent. The old mark of 90.6 was set in 1985 and matched in 1994. On defense, opponents finished 32-of-43, or 74.4 percent, the 19th-best figure dating back to 1953;

— CU did not have a turnover for the seventh game in 2021 (old school record was four several times; CU had just one in the final five games (a strip-sack of Drew Carter late in the UCLA game);

—CU had 7 turnovers on the year, a school record for the fewest in a season (old: 11 in 1956, five fumbles lost, six interceptions). Toledo had six on the season, with CU finishing second in the nation for fewest turnovers;

— Nikko Reed, in his first career start at cornerback, with his 100-yard kickoff return the 12th 100-yard return in CU history (eight kickoffs and four interceptions, with the latest kickoff return by Marques Mosley in 2012 (also against Utah);

— Cole Becker’s 56-yard field goal was the longest by a freshman kicker in CU history (the old record: 54, by Evan Price). Becker made three 50-plus yard field goals in 2021 (51, 52, 56) was the most in a season since Mason Crosby made 5 (of 7) in 2005;

— Becker is just the seventh freshman to lead the Buffs in scoring (67 points), the third placekicker to do so. The 67 points are the second-most by a frosh, trailing 86 by PK James Stefanou in 2017.

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12 Replies to “No. 16 Utah 28, Colorado 13”

  1. In a perfect world Chev goes in to see KD and admits he is overmatched as OC. And asks to be put back in charge of receivers so that KD can find a new OC.

    1. dont want that either. The few times I was able to see the routes develop they were pure vanilla and took way too long to develop.

  2. Let’s be honest the outcome of this game was never in doubt. Utah scored when it needed and kept their game plan simple because our offense (and the coaching staff) are inept.

    The players and fans deserve better.

    GO BUFFS

  3. Lots of fight and heart from the players! Happy to see it. Offense looked like same old terrible product. The results are abysmal as always. Not one offensive TD. Regardless of Chev being a former Buff and his passion for CU, it’s results that count and those are simply not there. Chev hit his Peter Principle ceiling a while back and there has been no improvement. Time to announce a change which sends the message that sub standard performance will not be tolerated. There is no reason to postpone making the change. Here is to hoping for better days ahead for the football program, thanks to you Stuart for the time and effort in maintaining a quality forum, and safe holidays to all.

  4. Great effort today. Proud of you Buffs!!

    Now. About that offense. Offensive. Historically bad. What will it take to turn things around? New OC? A real O line coach? Some serious recruiting? It feels like nothing will work until the O line makes dramatic improvement.

    And please, no “we are young” excuse. Utah started many freshmen.

  5. Hook, line and sinker.. Great fight Buffs. Be off season pissed!!! CU on the waters. Loosen that drag and compete.. ps.. some of those Utes might wanna move on on and quite scoring against 18 years olds .. Go BUFFS 2022

  6. Welp an exciting season is over.
    On to next steps.
    Can’t wait………….I guess?

    The offense hasn’t changed or improved one iota over the season
    The game plans show no imagination!
    The plays are the same!
    The play calls come at the same point always and are totally predictable!
    Field goals are the norm.

    Hoping for a brighter future.

    Buffs

    Note: Not only did the defense and special teams out gain the offense 178 to 148 they
    OUT SCORED THEM 13-0………………..SHEESH

  7. Is Chev gone yet?
    The players are going to need the new playbook as soon as possible. It has to be a big jump from the old one

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