Tavion Thomas ran for 142 yards and touchdown as No. 19 Utah outmatched Colorado for a 28-13 win on Saturday afternoon in a dreary Rumble in the Rockies.
The Colorado Buffaloes started out with a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter before falling behind by eight points at halftime. A 14-6 Ute advantage at the break came off two touchdown throws by Cameron Rising. The first was a 19-yard strike to Brant Kuithe and the other from 29 yards out to Dalton Kincaid. Utah took advantage of a slew of injuries on the Buffs’ defensive front. Mekhi Blackmon, Nikko Reed, Jack Lamb and Nate Landman were all out of commission for today’s contest.
Rising finished the day going 14-of-23 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. One of his most costly mistakes came early in the first quarter with his third interception of the season coming off an overthrow and right into the hands of Mark Perry. Perry had a great game for the Buffs was flying all over the field against Utah.
Colorado entered the second half with an immediate spark. A 100-yard kickoff return by freshman Nikko Reed gave the Buffs a renewed energy down by just a point, 14-13. This was the first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2013 for the Buffs and it was great to see the freshman burst out for a big play. The score would never be that close again. Utah packed on another two scores in the final 29:45 for the 15-point win as the Buffaloes offense completely floundered.
Brendon Lewis’ final game of his freshman season was one to build off of going into next year. He went 9-of-23 for 84 yards and was his third straight game without a passing touchdown. The Buffs offense struggled without Pac-12 Player of the Year Jarek Broussard, along with a handful others including dynamic play-making receiver Brendan Rice and Montana Lemonious-Craig. The offensive line was in trouble all day, with Utah’s Devin Lloyd and others making life hell for Lewis. He was hit over 10 times and had plenty of throwaways. Ralphie Report is a staunchly pro-Lewis publication, so it hurt to see him get knocked down out there.
In fact, Colorado was missing a total of 14 players who either didn’t make the trip to Salt Lake City or arrived dressed in street clothes.
One of those was defensive leader Nate Landman, who was forced out due to injury. He wraps up his final season in Boulder as one of the most decorated linebackers in CU history with 348 total tackles, 13 pass deflections, 10 sacks and three interceptions. The “Hammer” will be one to watch leading up to next year’s NFL Draft.
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP IMPLICATIONS
No. 19 Utah awaits the result of tomorrow’s Civil War between Oregon-Oregon State. The 11th-ranked Ducks will become the Pac-12 North champs with a win. If they lose, the Beavers will be Vegas bound to face the Utes with a Washington win over Washington State in the Apple Cup. Washington State may also face the Utes in Vegas if they win.
Colorado finishes the season with a 4-8 overall record. The three Pac-12 wins by Karl Dorrell this season matches his COVID-shoterened year of 2020, along with the same put up by Mel Tucker during his lone season in Boulder two years ago. The Buffs are 9-13 in conference play since 2019.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, the Buffs finish with a better record than Nebraska in 2021. How the mighty of the 90s have fallen.