Your Colorado Buffaloes thought they were out of the basement, but they were kicked down the stairs in a depressing 31-14 loss to the UCLA Bruins. Colorado is now 3-6 on the season, 1-5 in conference play, and are almost guaranteed to finish last place in the Pac-12 South.
The Buffs went three-and-out on their first two possessions, which is exactly the start you want in a must-win game. UCLA turned those punts into 10 points, but really it should’ve been 14 with the way they were moving the ball via ground and air. Colorado’s third possession ended in a Steven Montez interception, which was immediately followed by a 45-yard touchdown pass to former walk-on Ethan Fernea.
Trailing 17-0, the Buffs reeled us back in right when we wanted to give up for good. The defense got a stop, then rode Jaren Mangham to the red zone before finishing the drive with a Montez rushing touchdown. The injury-plagued defense continued to get stops, but only because UCLA was out of sync. The Bruins could have run all over the Buffs — UCLA is averaging over 220 rushing yards in Pac-12 play — but they were held back by penalties and mistakes. It’s worth shouting out Nate Landman, who made plays sideline-to-sideline and came away with 2 sacks.
With the Colorado defense getting stops, we were hoping the offense would score more than 7 points in the half. Montez was really bad in the half, touchdown withstanding. He started the game 1-8 with an interception, threw ahead or behind everyone, and continued to stare down his receivers. The Buffs did move the ball before halftime, but that ended in a missed 47-yard field goal by James Stefanou.
At the start of the third quarter, the Buffs caught a break. Dorian Thompson-Robinson evaded a blitz, but threw off his back foot while drifting right, and Carson Wells made a leaping one-handed interception. Colorado had great field position and again rode Mangham to the red zone. However, the red zone offense was disastrous, as per usual. Mangham was stuffed up the middle, a screen pass lost three yards, then a tunnel screen fell incomplete. The Buffs settled for a field goal and Stefanou doinked it from 27 yards out.
Colorado could have made this game 17-17, or 17-13, or even 17-10, but nope, 17-7 after multiple chances. So of course UCLA scored a touchdown immediately after that miss. It was a bruising 80-yard drive that took 5 minutes off the clock. Considering how the CU offense was playing, that was game, even before the fourth quarter started. Montez spent the last fifteen minutes checking down on 3rd-and-long, UCLA churned out the clock, and I watched the Blazers-Sixers game. At least Tony Brown scored a touchdown.