For the first time in a long time, #Pac12AfterDark came to visit. On this beautiful Saturday night in Boulder, the Colorado Buffaloes and Arizona Wildcats played a ridiculous game that was defined by which team could run further, and that team happened to be the ‘Cats by the score of 45-42.
Arizona has shown all year that their offense is as one-dimensional as possible. Stop the run and the Wildcats have absolutely no way to move the ball. Make them pass and the game is yours. Of course, when the game started, the Buffs played less like the defense we’ve seen all year and more like the disastrous units we were all too familiar with before 2016.
Arizona has one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation in Brandon Dawkins, but once he was injured on a late hit from Drew Lewis, it appeared that CU would have a better chance to stop the run against backup quarterback Khalil Tate. Tate had 125 rushing yards for two touchdowns in the first half. Then he had 202 yards for two touchdowns in the second half. He had 14 carries total. Those rushing touchdowns, in chronological order, were gains of 58, 28, 47 and 75 yards. His 327 rushing yards were the most ever for a quarterback in FBS history. Tate also had 142 passing yards on 11/12 passing because why not.
On the other side of the ball, Phillip Lindsay carried the Buffs as far as he could. When the Buffs weren’t called for holding, or Steven Montez wasn’t sacked or overthrowing Shay Fields, it was Lindsay running as hard as he could to power the Colorado offense. On the first of CU’s scoring possessions, Lindsay had 6 carries for 28 yards and the opening touchdown. On the second CU scoring drive, one that last nearly 10 minutes of gametime, Lindsay had 81 yards (!) on 14 carries (!!) with his second score of the game. (After that 10-minute drive, it took Arizona just over a minute to answer back, because of course.)
Lindsay continued his excellent play in the second half as he had arguably the best game of his wonderful career. In the third quarter he surpassed Rodney Stewart for the CU record for all-purpose yards. In the fourth quarter Lindsay ran for his 3rd touchdown on his CU-record 41st carry of the game. He finished the game with career-highs with 281 rushing yards and 320 yards from scrimmage.
In the fourth quarter, the Buffs passing offense finally took off and this game truly became a shootout. The offensive line held together and Montez had enough time to go through his progressions. Montez missed some chances on deep balls to Fields, but he looked solid in the second half. Unfortunately, with the CU defense playing like their shoelaces were tied together, Montez’s three passing TDs in the second half, plus Lindsay’s three scores, were essentially wasted. There was no moment more indicative of this than when Montez threw a TD pass to Chris Bounds, but on the very next play, Tate ran for his 75-yard touchdown.
After Colorado scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to 45-42 with 5:04 left, the Buffs had a decent chance to pull out the win. But they decided to kick it deep instead of go for the onside kick. Then after expending multiple timeouts, they allowed a first down on back-to-back offsides penalties called on the defensive line. Then with the game on the line on a 3rd-and-7 with 1:46 left, Tate ran for 31 yards and sealed the game. Those final five minutes were your essential 2017 Colorado Buffaloes.
Next week for the Buffs is the Oregon State Beavers. If Colorado can’t take that win at Corvallis, this is will be a lonnnnnng season for us.