PHEW. The Buffaloes are in the win column. They scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and converted a final fourth down conversion from the Cougar four-yard line to take down the pirate. How bad did we all need that?
Before the game started, in my final key to today's game, I asked that the Buffaloes "return to respectability". If there's anything you can say about today's 35-34 win in Pullman to the Washington State Cougars it's that Colorado looked like a football team again. They looked like an actual program with young players that are struggling to adapt to the D-1 level but absolutely have the talent to compete in the Pac-12. There were a ton of frustrating negatives (the offense and Jordan Webb in the second half, the coaches refusal to run the ball, the cushion that Greg Brown insists on giving the wide receivers), but the team progressed and pulled out an improbable, amazing road win in Pullman.
On the first series of the game it seemed as if we might be staring another disaster right in the face as the Cougars marched unopposed down the field and scored a touchdown on a 32-yard across the body floater of a touchdown pass from Connor Halliday to Gabe Marks. However, the Buffaloes showed that they still have plenty of fight left and marched back down the field to tie the game at seven. Jordan Webb looked much more accurate than he did against Fresno State in going 4-for-4 for 31 yards and touchdown pass to Nelson Spruce. Christian Powell got back in on the act highlighted by a 24-yard rush.
The Buffaloes had an opportunity to take the lead with another long drive after a Jered Bell interception and 37-yard return, but Will Oliver missed a 30-yard field and Colorado failed to capitalize. Washington State wouldn't waste their opportunity as a Connor Halliday touchdown to Marquess Wilson gave the Cougars a seven-point lead. Tyler McCulloch made sure that the Buffs wouldn't have a chance to score when he fumbled away a reception at his own 33-yard line. Nine plays and a converted fourth-down later and WSU had a 21-7 advantage.
Colorado moved the ball well the rest of the half, but a failed fourth-down conversion and a Jordan Webb sack and fumble kept the Buffaloes from putting any more points on the board. The defense did seem to improve late into the second quarter, forcing two straight Cougar punts.
In the second half, the Colorado offense stumbled out of the gate, but finally got the play it needed when Paul Vigo laid into running back Carl Winston causing a fumble and a Terrel Smith return to the one-yard line which Jordan Webb punched in to bring the Buffs back within seven. They once again had a chance to tie the game up when they got the ball back at midfield after a missed Washington State field goal, but Jordan Webb launched an underthrown deep ball that was promptly intercepted. Six plays later Marquess Wilson got the Cougars back in the endzone with a 49-yard touchdown reception.
At the point the Colorado offense seemed to have had fired all of it's bullets and couldn't get out of it's own way but big plays, a beautiful 70-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Webb to tight end Nick Kasa and an 84-yard touchdown scamper by Tony Jones, got the Buffaloes right back into the game. Washington State kicked off to the Buffaloes after a field goal with 3:18 to go and Colorado took the ball down the field for a final fourth down play on the Cougars four-yard line. Five wide receivers, empty backfield. Jordan Webb runs the quarterback draw up the middle to give Colorado their first win of the 2012 season. To give Colorado a 1-0 record in the Pac-12 South. To give Colorado a return to respectability and Buffaloes fans everywhere one hell of a Saturday afternoon.