After the CSU game, Colorado was due for a letdown. It’s a cynical train of thought, but that’s just how it is for many of us. With such a dominant win in the rear-view mirror and a massive road game against Michigan at the next light, it seemed possible the Buffs would replicate catastrophes of Embree’s past.
Instead, I’m starting the recap of this game at halftime.
Right out of the starting gate, the Buffs raced up and down the field as if they were playing a team of bighorn sheep. Their 410 yards and 49 points at the half seemed low, somehow. The offense was so effective that they could have realistically challenged 100 points had the starters stayed in and stayed motivated.
Of course, the Buffs were only able to have their offense on the field for so long because of what their defense did to those poor souls from Pocatella, Idaho. In the first half alone, the defense allowed 42 yards (!), three three-and-outs (on four drives) and, as you’d expect from an offense moving like that, zero points. Coming off the brutality that was the Rocky Mountain Showdown, we could be viewing a top-20 defense in the nation.
When all was said and done, the Buffs allowed a total of 96 yards. Not once did the Bengals cross the 50-yard line on their own, as their lone score came off a Beau Bisharat fumble in Colorado territory.
With an offense playing like that behind a defense as dominant as their’s, Colorado had no choice but to dismantle their lowly FCS competition.
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That may have been the second best game of Sefo Liufau’s career. (His best was that overtime loss at Cal in 2014.) After missing Donovan Lee (or was that Kyle Evans?) and Devin Ross wide-open downfield early on, Liufau went Super-Saiyan.
Following the Lee miss, Liufau floated a perfect pass to find Ross fading in the end zone. Following the Ross miss, Liufau threw a perfect deep ball to Shay Fields streaking down the right sideline. For the second game in a row, Fields was a yard short of a long score; he would come up five yards short on his only other catch of the game, a 42-yarder down that same seam.
Liufau continued with his near-perfect half with deep balls galore — if the pass was incomplete, it was because pass interference interrupted a perfect throw — as Fields and Ross ran by their defenders over and over again. Meanwhile, Jay MacIntyre and Bryce Bobo carved up the shallow coverage with sharp routes and elusiveness after the catch. This receiving core is a fun bunch to watch go to work, especially with Liufau throwing like this.
The final play of Liufau’s day was a run in which he, all 6’4, 240-pounds of him, outran ISU’s secondary en route to a 19-yard rushing touchdown. He finished 15 completions on 18 attempts for 204 yards and two touchdowns. That 19-yard run gave him 54 total rushing yards to complement his aerial onslaught.
Montez’s first drive was somehow better than any Liufau conducted. On the fourth play of the drive, Montez connected with Kabion Ento on a very nice 69-yard catch and run. It’s hard to tell if Ento is a beast in the open field or if ISU is just abysmal at tackling.
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On to the defense. We’ll take roll call.
Chidobe Awuzie had another terrific game. He was everywhere, as always. I’ll bet my tuition money that he’s going to be a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best defensive back.
Josh Tupou and Jimmie Gilbert shouldn’t be allowed to play against FCS defensive lines. The punishment they inflicted bordered on cruel and unsuall.
Rick Gamboa and Kenneth Olugbode need to work on their hands (both dropped interceptions), but they can fly around the field making tackles. Addison Gilliam, wherever he is, may not be needed for this linebacking corps to be great.
Ryan Moeller should never have had to walk on. I know he played running back in high school
and lost the 3A State Championship to my Silver Creek Raptors but his athleticism and instincts around the ball make for a terrific safety. He nearly came down with what would have likely been Colorado’s interception of the year.
Ahkhello Witherspoon hasn’t a lock to start opposite Awuzie – I thought Isaiah Oliver would – but he looks great to start the season. If he can perform as well as he has throughout the season, the Buffs may have the best secondary in the conference.
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The Buffs look like the National Championship favorite at the moment. They’ll face their first challenge of the season as the Michigan Wolverines look to pull off the home upset.