October 15th – Boulder          Colorado 20, California 13 OT

A 22-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback J.T. Shrout to Montana Lemonious-Craig gave CU the lead in overtime, with the Buff defense making it stand up with a four down stop, giving Colorado a 20-13 overtime win over California. Cal had a first-and-goal at the CU 10-yard line, but a fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete, preserving the victory. The Buffs, who had only led once during the first five games of the season – and that was in the first quarter of the first game – had leads of 3-0, 10-7, and 13-10 before taking the lead for good in overtime.

The much maligned Colorado defense, dead last in the nation in rushing defense (giving up an average of 294.2 yards per game), held the Cal offense to 35 yards rushing, with the Bears held to 297 yards of total offense overall. The Buff offense, which had also struggled, posted only 328 yards of total offense, but had its first 100-yard receiving game of the season, with Montana Lemonious-Craig collecting eight passes for 119 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Backup J.T. Shrout, who replaced injured starter Owen McCown in the third quarter, completed 8-of-12 passes for 69 yards.

“This is all about the players,” interim coach Mike Sanford said. “Their resilience, their resolve. I’m really proud of these players. As I told them in the locker room, the best part about being 1-0 in our new season is the chance to be 2-0.”

“I have had some pretty good moments with this program, but I’ll definitely put this one in the books”, said senior defensive lineman Terrance Lang. “It was a hard-fought win and we deserve it. And credit to those fans, man. I love our fans. They show up every time.”

A sellout crowd of 50,471 basked in a warm October afternoon, watching the Buffs first victory since taking down Washington on November 20, 2021. “I mean we love Buff Nation,” said hero of the game Montana Lemonious-Craig. “They stay with us through thick and thin and when they stormed the field it was just great vibes, great energy all over the place and we’re just happy we were able to get the win for them because at the end of the day, our fans show up week in week out, no matter the record, no matter nothing. They come here and give us their all, so we’re glad that we were able to give them our all.”

Game Story … The much-maligned Colorado defense had surrendered touchdowns to their opponents on the first drive of the game in four consecutive games, but against Cal, the game started differently. After giving up a first down run on the first play of the game, Cal quarterback Jack Plummer was intercepted by sophomore safety Tyrin Taylor. The pick was only the third of the season for the Buff secondary, and only the third turnover on the season for the Bear offense.

With the Family Weekend crowd energized by the interception, the Buff offense … went three-and-out on its first possession.

Undaunted, the Colorado defense, which had forced only six three-and-outs in the first five games of the season, forced a three-and-out.

On CU’s second offensive series, the Buff offense … went three-and-out, with Daniel Arias dropping a first down pass for the second consecutive possession.

Taking over near midfield, Cal put together its first drive of the game. The Bears pushed the ball to the CU 26-yard line, but a sack by Terrance Lang pushed back, forcing a long field goal attempt. The 54-yard effort by Cal kicker Dario Longhetto, though, was wide left, and the game remained scoreless.

CU’s third offensive possession never got started as an offensive facemask penalty against freshman wide receiver Jordyn Tyson contributed to yet another three-and-out.

The Bears quickly pushed the ball back into Colorado territory, using the passing game to create yet another scoring opportunity. In good shape with a second-and-one at the CU 19-yard line, however, three straight runs by the Bear offense netted zero yards. On fourth-and-one, a quarterback sneak by Jack Plummer was stopped by Jalen Sami, giving the ball back to the CU offense.

Colorado, out-scored 54-10 in the first quarter of the first five games, had now managed to get through the first quarter with a 0-0 tie. Still, the Buff offense had yet to gain a first down.

That was, until the Buffs’ fourth drive. Taking over on downs, running back Deion Smith registered CU’s first first down with a 12-yard run. After two more Smith runs gained eight yards, CU converted its first third down of the game with a four-yard run by quarterback Owen McCown on third-and-two. Three plays later, McCown connected with R.J. Sneed for another first down and CU’s first penetration into Cal territory.

From there, however, the Buffs went backward. A four-yard loss on a running play, followed by a holding call, left CU with a second-and-24 … where Owen McCown was picked off by linebacker Jackson Sirmon at the CU 47-yard line.

The Buffs seemed to have earned another reprieve with an interception by sophomore cornerback Nikko Reed, but that was overturned by a hands-to-the-face penalty, not only giving the ball back to Cal, but giving the Bears a first down at the CU 30-yard line. Three incompletions later, however, the Bears were left to try for a field goal. Dario Longhetto, who had earlier missed from 54 yards, missed again, hooking a 47-yarder to keep the score at 0-0 with 8:50 to play in the second quarter.

An 18-yard scramble by Owen McCown on third-and-11 prevented the Buffs from suffering yet another three-and-out to open CU’s next drive. On the following play, McCown hit Daniel Arias for a 42-yard gain, giving CU a first down at the Cal 12-yard line. It appeared that the Buffs had taken the lead with a touchdown, with McCown hitting Jordyn Tyson for an 11-yard touchdown, but the Buffs were called for an ineligible player downfield. After a short run by Anthony Hankerson, Cole Becker was called up to kick a 31-yard field goal. The kick was good, and the Buffs had their first lead since the first quarter of the season opener against TCU, taking a 3-0 lead with 4:18 remaining in the first half.

For the fourth straight possession, Cal drove into Colorado territory, but, for the fourth straight possession, came up empty. On a third-and-one at the CU 43-yard line, Cal running back Jaydn Ott was thrown for a four yard loss, forcing a punt.

Taking over with just over a minute remaining in the half, the Buffs did pick up one first down on their next drive, but wound up punting the ball away with 24 seconds left on the clock.

Halftime score: Colorado 3, California 0

As the score would indicate, neither offense had much going on in the first half, with CU having a 141-103 edge in total yards. Both teams had a turnover, but CU was 1-for-1 on field goal attempts; Cal 0-for-2.

CU’s first series of the second half opened with pair of completions from McCown to Montana Lemonious-Craig covering 24 yards, getting CU to midfield. A third down conversion – a five-yard run by Jayle Stacks on third-and-two – gave CU a fresh set of downs, but the next three plays netted only eight yards. On a fourth-and-two at the Cal 36, though, Owen McCown was sacked, fumbling the ball back to the Bears.

Taking over at its 45-yard line after the fumble recovery, Cal … went three-and-out.

The Buff offense, though, responded with a three-and-out of its own, with three plays gaining eight yards.

On Cal’s second possession of the second half, the Bears finally took advantage of the great field possession it had enjoyed all afternoon. Taking over at the CU 47-yard line after a 26-yard punt return, Cal needed a conversion on a fourth-and-two a the Buff 39-yard line to keep the drive alive. The Bears finished off the seven-play drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jack Plummer to J. Michael Sturdivant, giving Cal a 7-3 lead with 5:49 to play in the third quarter.

A 32-yard kickoff return by Nikko Reed restored some momentum for the Buffs, but it was short-lived, as the Buffs again went three-and-out, giving the ball back to Cal after once again gaining eight yards in three plays.

The Bears did convert on a third-and-13 to open its next drive, but three straight incompletions thereafter forced another Cal punt.

A 17-yard punt return by Nikko Reed set the Buffs up at their 42-yard line. With Owen McCown out with an injury, J.T. Shrout took over at quarterback. A defensive holding penalty helped put the ball into Cal territory. On a trick play, freshman Jordyn Tyson hit Montana Lemonious-Craig for a 37-yard gain down to the Cal five yard line. Two runs put the ball at the Cal one yard line, with Anthony Hankerson scoring on the next play, giving CU a 10-7 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

A 23-yard run by Jayden Ott was quickly followed by a 24-yard completion from Jack Plummer to tight end Keieki Latu … but Latu fumbled the ball, with freshman linebacker Aubrey Smith forcing the ball out, with Nikko Reed recovering for the Buffs at the CU 27-yard line.

An eight-yard completion from Shrout to Montana Lemonious-Craig, with a personal foul tacked on, gave CU the ball at midfield. On the next play, however, a completion to Deion Smith was fumbled, giving the ball back to Cal at the CU 45-yard line. Smith was injured on the play, with Deion taken away on a cart with the entire CU team looking on.

When play resumed, the Buff defense was hit on the first play with a personal foul, leaving Cal only 30 yards away from the end zone. A completion down to the CU 12-yard line gave the Bears a chance to take the lead. Instead, the Buff defense stiffened, giving up only three yards in three plays. Cal kicker Dario Longhetto, who had missed his first two attempts of the game, was true from 27 yards out. Colorado 10, California 10, with 10:20 to play.

On the first play of CU’s next possession, J.T. Shrout hit Montana Lemonious-Craig for a 17-yard gain. That was followed by a another completion to Lemonious-Craig for 12 yards and a first down in Cal territory. Then, on a third-and-12, Shrout and Lemonious-Craig connected again, this time for 19 yards and a first down at the Cal 29-yard line. On a third-and-one, Anthony Hankerson moved the chains with a two yard gain. Four more Hankerson runs gave CU a chance at a touchdown, but an incompletion on third-and-goal at the six fell incomplete. Cole Becker then connected on a 24-yard field goal, giving CU its third lead of the game, 13-10, with 4:30 to play.

Cal then marched smartly down the field, and was set up with a second-and-one at the CU nine yard line with less than two minutes to play. A two yard run gave the Bears a first-and-goal at the CU seven yard line, as the clocked ticked under one minute to play. On third-and-goal, Nikko Reed sacked Jack Plummer for an eight-yard loss, forcing a field goal attempt. With two seconds remaining, Dario Longhetto hit from 34 yards out.

End of regulation: Colorado 13, California 13

Cal won the toss, electing to play defense first. Taking over at the Cal 25-yard line to start the overtime, Anthony Hankerson ran for five yards on first down, but lost two yards on a screen on second down. On third-and-seven, a pass from J.T. Shrout to Montana Lemonious-Craig to the end zone was ruled incomplete. On further review, however, the call was overruled, giving Shrout and Lemonious-Craig a 22-yard touchdown completion. Cole Becker’s extra point was good: Colorado 20, California 13.

On Cal’s first play on offense, the Buffs were flagged for pass interference, giving Cal a first-and-goal at the Buff 10-yard line. It appeared that Cal had an easy touchdown, but a pass to Mason Starling was broken up by safety Trevor Woods. After a false start penalty, an incompletion, and a four-yard completion, the Bears faced a fourth-and-goal at the CU 11. Jack Plummer thought he had his tight end at the goal line, but the pass came in too quickly, and was dropped.

After that, it was up to the student section to rush the field for a much needed celebration.

Final score: Colorado 20, California 13

“What I told them is that the best part about being 1-0 which we are in our new season,  is that you have a chance to be 2-0 and that’s where our attention turns 24 hours from now,” Sanford said. “We’re going to get back to work tomorrow and we’re going to practice, we’re going to add some Sunday work, and we’ve just got to keep our eyes straight ahead. Enjoy this, it’s one of those days that you’ll never forget, but at the end of the day, we’ve got a job to do and we believe in our abilities to go do that and that’s where eyes are going to be fixated.”

Colorado finished with 328 yards of total offense, besting the 297 posted by Cal. Before being injured, quarterback Owen McCown 13-for-21 for 104 yards and an interception, along with running back Deion Smith (12 carries for 48 yards), led the Buffs. Smith was carried off on a stretcher in the fourth quarter, but the report from the locker room was positive.

“He’s standing up and walking around”, Mike Sanford said of Smith after the game. “So a lot of the fears that everybody has when somebody comes off on a stretcher, I think that I was able to assure that the team that that’s nothing that that we have to be concerned with. Deion is up and walking and I think he was emotional because he didn’t have a chance to celebrate on the field with his teammates, but he was a huge part of that victory, both in his play and more importantly, just how much this team loves him and shows their support for him there. That was a moment I’ll never forget in my coaching career, just the brotherhood that was shown through that moment.”

Game Notes … 

— The loss left Cal with a 7-5 all-time advantage against Colorado, but 2-5 in games played in Boulder;

— Mike Sanford won his first game as CU’s interim coach, giving interim coaches at Colorado a 3-3 all-time record;

— Colorado raised its record in overtime games to 9-9; the win over Cal represented the second time CU won with a touchdown pass in the first OT (other: 1999 in Boulder vs, Missouri in 46-39 win; Mike Moschetti 24 yard pass to Marcus Stiggers; with a Ben Kelly interception on defense ending the game); 

— CU led 3-0 at halftime; the last time CU shutout a team in the first half was Family Weekend vs. Arizona in 2021 (6-0). The Buffs allowed 400 yards in the first half to Arizona its last time out (Oct. 1st); Cal had 103;

— In the first five games, CU allowed 19 plays of 20 yards or more on first down and 50 of 10 yards or longer; Cal was limited to one and five, respectively;

— Wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig had eight catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. These were career-highs in both receptions and yards and scored the third TD of his career, along with a career-best long of 37 yards.



18 Replies to “Colorado 20, Cal 13, OT”

  1. Happy so much for the win. The players, the coaches, the fans, the university, the trolls.

    Really no offense yet. Something is missing here? Seems weak and play calling was welllllllllo?? Okay first time guy but still no identit.
    Interesting who was brought in as the back up at qb. Even, close eh??
    Got the rocks done. Sheesh, I ain’t 25 anymore
    Got to see on a real tv the last 10 minutes and the overtime.
    Go Buffman Go.

  2. Coaching seems to be kinda important.
    Same players
    one coach no wins
    another coach a win
    yup ya gotta have the players but with out the coaching they are nothing.

    Go Buffs.

    6 to go win 5

  3. Yes, that was a completely different team. And I’m super happy for the Buff nation. It was finally fun to watch. I was thinking during the game … ok, win or lose, at least we look competitive — it was relief, I was feeling. All it took was a coach who’s a cheerleader! Get the 18 year-old boys pumped up and using their energy.

    Somewhere along the way, I started to wonder if Dorrell was watching the game. It must fill him with enormous self-doubt to see something like that. Does he cheer for these boys? or hang his head low? or does he just count the money and grin?

    1. I would bet he called mike and congratulated him. At least I would hope he did. I wondered the same thing.

      Now, I wouldn’t expect him to post a full page ad in the daily camera or anything.

      Go Buffs

  4. Great win. It’s really hard to quantify but the difference between losing teams and winning teams isn’t as significant as one might think. The talk of the Buffs not having Power 5 talent was just that… talk from peeps that never received a scholarship for anything. That said, TCU continues to win by offense; Garrett Riley, start watching the TCU games. He’s a great OC! Has recruited Texas (SMU and TCU) and his brother runs USC (and will for years to come) with the best canvasing of Cali for talent, and they can only take 15-20 kids per recruiting class… Garret would be the big winner in “you should look at this guy” …. Rick George, please interview Garrett, youth infusion, top offensive mind and recruiting base for Texas and California… for me… he’s the ball coach we should go after

  5. I went to the game and I just rewatched. This is the defense I expected to see all year. With this defense we beat airforce and Arizona and we are 3-3. It’s damn near criminal what Wilson did. They made 3 changes to our defense from a scheme perspective #1. They aligned the inside linebackers correctly. Wilson had some very strange 4-2-5 alignment (because of opposing personnel we were virtually never in a 4-3). He had the strong side backer lined up outside of the tight end. I have never understood that alignment and felt it was one of the reasons we were so bad against the run. We adopted a very standard 4-2 alignment. 2. We recreated the star position and stuck Barnes in it. Since were were always in a 4-2-5 anyway we just made one of the extra safeties Barnes, put him in space and told him to be aggressive against the run. He was and did a great job shutting down the run and did enough in the pass. #3 we blitzed. And we blitzed effectively. I tell you we have players. They are not perfect but put in the right position we can succeed. I know defensive football and I tell you this is what our defense should have looked like all season. I am not sure on the offensive side. I saw our o line miss a whole lot of blocks. We all saw Arias drops. We need better blocking on the wide reciever screens. Our play calling still seems disjointed. I still can’t tell what we are? I still think we should be running more until they bring their safeties up. I also think we need to run more from a wide set with Hankerson instead of those bunched formations. I am not seeing super creative route combinations. I love what Chatman did, and I love the energy that Sanford brings but we have seen what coaching does. If Sanford and Patterson don’t figure it out in the next week or two….. I do think Shrout needs to be QB1. He should get the whole week in practice and be named the starter.

  6. Well, there’s the 30% or so I put on coaching. Sanford got the kids to see his vision when Karl and Chris couldn’t.

    Great result to get the win and we’ll deserved. They and the program and Buff nation needed it.

    Storming the field? What the hell. Gotta support the kids. And they had a bunch of recruits there, I think, so for them to see the fan support is big.

    That sort of encapsulated how I thought the season would go. Not pretty, but some young guys making plays in hard fought games with a shot to win In the end, but not getting quite over the hump.

    I hope they keep it up, keep fighting and improve every game instead of getting worse, like they had been.

    OSU could be a fun game.

    Go Buffs

  7. I watched my first CU game in 1987. I was 6. I remember my grandpa telling me that that McCartney guy was doing some good stuff “up there” (we lived in southern CO). From that day, I was hooked on CU and the gold/black and Folsom and Boulder. I’ve been a fan for 35 years. I’ve seen some high highs (nat champ games, 1 nat champ, the hail Mary, a 1-loss season that was prob the best team in CU history but came up against one of the most dominant teams in cfb history (they will remain nameless), 62-36, a big 12 champ in the longhorns backyard) and obviously seen some low lows. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of CU football than I am today. We obviously have a looooong way to go, but after weeks of the cfb world (and Buff fans) telling them they were horrible and the worst, the players and coaches showed incredible fortitude and character and fight and resolve today. I’m so happy for them. They deserve it. I’m also so stoked that the students and fans put some butts in seats today (a beautiful fall day in Boulder helps, but…) and have continued to support through thick and thin. Like I said, there is a lot of work ahead, but this is when CU and Buffnation needs us the most. Shoulder to shoulder, keep on fighting!

    1. Nice post Chris…..in 1949, I became a Buffs Forever Fan listening to Star Yellin on 850 KOA…..and, I have remained.

      Star Yellin was an ICON behind the mike……….then, when he vacated the broadcasting booth an equally talented “Zim” took over and was also amazing….and he ushered in the era of Buffs on TV.

      Look what we have now ! A backup coach pulling the Buffs out of the ashes so they can rise like The Phoenix……The difference was astronomical ! This coach, I think, will continue to energize the campus and the loyal Buffalo Fans.

      Seeing some (Some ? Hell. A lot of ) true Freshmen filling their role magnificently bodes well for the coaches on the recruitment trail….. ( IF CU can match the upper financial echelon of universities ).

      Kudos to the “WHITE-OUT.” It was the finest FAN statement I have ever seen at Folsom Field. IT WAS AS IMPRESSIVE AS ANYTHING I HAVE SEEN INCLUDING crowds at NE, OU, Ohio St, ND, MI or any others.


      IF SO, TODAY, we may have seen one of the finest “Turnarounds” in NCAA history.

  8. I am so happy for the players and coaching staff !!!!! Haven’t enjoyed a game like that in a long time. Hopefully they will continue to be competitive like today the rest of the year.

    GO BUFFS !!!!!!!!!!

  9. Not really shocking, KD and CW took CU for over 10 million while coasting along not really knowing what they were doing.

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