Colorado and TCU waited the entire offseason for their first-ever meeting on the gridiron, but the schools needed an extra 35 minutes prior to kickoff due to a lightning delay at Folsom Field on Friday night.
And yet, none of that mattered when Ralphie made her way around because it turned into a bit of a slugfest early. Unfortunately, that was the story before halftime for the Buffaloes. It was a tale of two halves with TCU running away in the second half on the way to a 38-13 win.
Colorado started the game and quickly reached the red zone. It was a great set of scripted plays with Lewis showing flashes of why he was handed the reins to the offense. However, the Buffs were ultimately stopped on a fourth down QB draw, a bold call from Dorrell to go for it on the TCU 15-yard-line.
Frogs coach Sonny Dykes teased during the week that he would feature multiple QB’s on Friday night and he didn’t disappoint. Oklahoma transfer Chandler Morris was given the first crack at things for the Frogs and CU’s defense stood tall, forcing the redshirt freshman to a quick three-and-out with two passes nearly picked off. Colorado flipped the field once again and got on the board first. A 37-yard field goal by Cole Becker gave CU a 3-0 lead with 4:44 left in the first quarter.
Morris and TCU’s offense stalled out for a second straight punt, giving CU almost the length of the field to increase their one-score lead. Lewis couldn’t put much together either with the Buffs being forced to punt and it ended up being costly. Ashton Logan’s first career punt was returned 60 yards return for a touchdown by Derius Davis. (CU great Alex Kinney also had his first punt result in an opposition touchdown, so this could be a good omen.)
The Buffs followed with a 12-play, 50-yard field goal drive. After a 24-yard scamper by Lewis, the Buffs used a series of short passes and 4-yard runs by Alex Fontenot to take 6 minutes off the clock. Lewis attempted to scramble for the first down on a 3rd-and-6, but was stopped two yards shy, resulting in the Becker field goal.
After another TCU drive stalled, punter Jordy Sandy pinned CU down at their own 1-yard line with a little over two minutes before heading off to the locker room. At that point, Karl Dorrell decided to pull Lewis in favor of Shrout, the more talented passer of the two. The Tennessee transfer took the Buffs down the field with some impressive throws, but a holding call set back the drive and the half ended with a Hail Mary falling harmless to the ground.
The Buffs trailed at halftime 7-6 and outgained the Frogs 212 to 67. The offense was methodical and controlled the clock, which combined with a great run defense followed the same recipe as the Buffs’ game against Texas A&M last season. However, this would not last, as Dykes adjusted and the Frogs went on to have 247 rushing yards in the second half.
The first of the big plays was a 22-yard run by Kendre Miller, there was a 20-yard pass to Geor’Quarius Spivey (!), and finally a 43-yard touchdown run by Emari Demercado. Colorado responded with a three-and-out after Dorrell went back to Lewis at QB.
After TCU put a field goal on the board to make the score 17-6, the Buffs went bust again with Lewis at the helm. It’s at this point where Colorado’s offensive line looked overmatched, as the drive stalled when Deion Smith was stuffed and Lewis was sacked on the next play.
Dykes changed up QBs when he promoted Max Duggan after Morris was shaken up. Duggan only threw three passes the entire game but still led TCU to the end zone on all three of his drives. That is when the floodgates opened up for the ground game as they were like a hot knife from CU’s butter run defense.
Colorado was unable to keep up regardless of their QB choice. Shrout continued to look good, despite the offensive line struggling to protect him. He did lead a scoring drive when the Buffs were down 38-6, showcasing his arm talent with a 23-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Jordyn Tyson.
Colorado heads south on I-25 for a meeting with Air Force. The first time the Buffaloes will make the trip to the Academy since 1973, when the tensions between CU and AFA were so intense that they didn’t play each other for another 46 years. The Falcons are one of the main contenders to win the Mountain West this season.