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We own the South: Colorado Buffaloes clinch the division

The Buffaloes are headed to Santa Clara.

Utah v Colorado Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The No. 9 Colorado Buffaloes couldn’t have scripted a better finish to the regular season on Senior Day in Boulder, clinching the Pac-12 South Division with a 27-22 win against the No. 21 Utah Utes.

A slow start for CU’s offense meant the defense would have to come out of the gate swinging and they did by forcing Utah to 3-and-out's on the Utes’ first two drives. The Buffs failed to capitalize when quarterback Sefo Liufau fumbled the ball on their first possession, giving Utah a short field at CU’s 40-yard line.

The Utes would draw first blood with a 55-yard punt return from Bobbie Hobbs to take an early 7-0 lead at 9:17 in the first quarter. From that point on it was all Colorado. A 2-yard touchdown run from Liufau would tie the game at the end of the first quarter and the Buffs would take the lead with two field goals from Chris Graham, carrying a 13-7 lead into halftime.

Colorado’s defense came up strong early and often in the game, holding the Utes to 6- 21 (28.5%) on third down conversions. Utah came into the game with the dynamic duo of Troy Williams and Joe Williams sparking the offense for an average of 344 yards per game. The Buffs defense held both Williams’ to just 257 total yards while forcing two interceptions from Troy Williams. He entered the game with the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the Pac-12.

After halftime, the Buffs defense was fortunate with a 10-yard fumble recovery and score from linebacker Kenneth Olugbode to increase the lead to 27-16 with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter.

Both teams would punt back-and-forth before a late Utah touchdown brought the game to 27-22 with 1:34 left to go in the game. Colorado wide receiver Kabion Ento recovered the ensuing onside kick, sealing the victory for the Buffaloes.

The nation’s longest consecutive forced turnover streak continued for Colorado at 25 games with four takeaways from the Utes. CU defensive back Tedric Thompson tied a school record with his seventh interception of season. Liufau became the third Buffs quarterback to throw for three 2,000 yard seasons joining Kordell Stewart and Joel Klatt. He needs one touchdown pass to become CU’s all-time leader with 61 TD’s.

Up next for the Buffaloes will be their first-ever Pac-12 Championship game against No. 5 Washington Huskies. Kickoff for next Friday’s game at Levi’s Stadium is scheduled at 7 p.m. MT. Ticket are still available for the game and start at $20.

Stay tuned, The Rise is about to become even more real.