After a disappointing home loss to Arizona, the Colorado Buffaloes were reeling. They were 22-point underdogs against the Oregon Ducks, but there was a chance they could put up a fight. They played well initially, although crucial mistakes turned a close game into a blowout. The Buffs lost, 45-3, and fell to 3-3 on the season.
Entering the season, we knew the Colorado secondary would be an adventure. That was before injuries decimated the group. Against Oregon and star quarterback Justin Herbert, that went about as expected. The Buffs couldn’t get any pressure on Herbert (262 yards and 2 TDs) and they were continually gashed by C.J. Verdell (171 yards on 14 carries). Oregon wasn’t even in sync but they moved the ball easily. They could have scored more than 24 first half points, but they were held back by dropped passes, mostly notably Juwan Johnson’s drop in the end zone that turned a touchdown into a field goal.
For Colorado, there was hope they could compete but only if they put up some points. Oregon’s defense is legitimately good — like, best in the Pac-12 good. They are very fast, especially in the middle of the field. Steven Montez was able to get the ball into Laviska Shenault Jr.’s hands, but the Buffs struggled with offensive consistency because of blown up plays and surprisingly conservative play-calling. You can’t beat Oregon with field goals and 3-yard runs, but bless their hearts they sure tried.
The Buffs did have a great drive before halftime — thanks to Viska, Alex Fontenot and multiple pass interference calls — but it was short-circuited by mistakes and ended in an end zone interception. The Buffs got the ball to the 1-yard line, but two penalties and a tipped pass turned into nothing. The Ducks scored a touchdown 67 seconds later. Instead of cutting the lead to 17-10, the Buffs went into halftime down 24-3. Fun times.
After halftime, things remained the same, but much worse. Right away, Montez tried to squeeze a throw to Brady Russell, but the pass was tipped and Bryson Young made a terrific play to intercept it. Five plays later, Herbert found Jaylon Redd for a touchdown. Montez threw an inexplicable interception in which he didn’t see the safety. Cyrus Habibi-Likio then scored his second of three touchdowns to make it 38-3. The Ducks scored 21 points on 7 offensive plays, a fun reminder of what playing Oregon used to be like.
The final 25 minutes were garbage time. During which time it was really fun to see Shenault being held on every route he ran. Even against NFL hopeful Thomas Graham Jr., the Ducks’ strategy was to grab him early in the route and undercut him on jump balls. On one occasion, Graham grabbed him by the horsecollar and Viska blew him up at the end of the play, as if to say, f*ck off. Everyone is frustrated that Shenault is so dominant that good teams don’t even try to play him fairly. I just want to see him make catches, at least in garbage time, while he’s still at CU.
Towards the end of the blowout, the Buffs decided to kick a 33-yard field goal despite being down 45-3. James Stefanou doinked it, his first miss of the season. Finally, some comic relief at the end of a long night.