After a long night at Folsom Field, the Buffs somehow found a way to come away with a scrappy 43-35 double overtime win over rival Colorado State.
Coach Prime and his team entered this game with a chip on their shoulders. CSU head coach Jay Norvell made some rude comments about the Colorado coach’s mother on Thursday, which made this week’s game personal. The Buffs wanted to come out and dominate their little brotherly rivals to prove a point, but that isn’t what ended up materializing. Instead, we saw a relatively sloppy and undisciplined performance from both teams.
Colorado’s offense had a rough showing today, especially in the first half. Sean Lewis’ unit had absolutely no momentum throughout the first two quarters, finishing the half with only 94 yards of total offense. The biggest reason for Colorado’s offensive woes against the Rams was their inability to move the ball on the ground. The Buffs tried and failed over and over to try to establish a run game. Dylan Edwards was Colorado’s only running back that had any success running the ball, as he finished the game with 57 rushing yards. The Buffs had a total of 70 rushing yards all game, which is a little too low for comfort. Colorado’s lack of a run game is becoming more and more of a problem as defenses start to figure out Lewis’ scheme, which is something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Shedeur had a rough first half too, as he finished with only 60 yards passing. Colorado’s QB was having some trouble connecting with his receivers, as CSU’s secondary was breaking everything up. The Buffs’ offensive line didn’t do Shedeur any favors today either, as he took a beating from the Rams. CSU managed to get to Shedeur for four sacks, along with laying out a couple other big hits on the Buffs quarterback. CU’s wide receivers had some issues bringing in the ball too, as the unit finished week three with four dropped passes.
Through the first three quarters, the offensive looked abysmal and all hope looked to be lost. However, something clicked with Sean Lewis and his guys. The Buffs stopped trying to run the ball and started taking shots down the field. Shedeur would eventually find his rhythm late into the contest and revert back to his old self that we saw for the first two weeks of the season. Shedeur put the team on his back and carried the Buffs through the fourth quarter and overtime. Sanders led the Buffs to three passing touchdowns at the tail end of the game, which ultimately brought home the win for Colorado.
Wide receiver Xavier Weaver had a fantastic game, and is keeping his impressive first season as a Buff rolling. Weaver finished the game with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown, firmly cementing himself as Colorado’s WR1. Buffs tight end Michael Harrison was this week’s surprise contributor, as he went off in the last minute of the fourth quarter and overtime. Harrison finished the game with 76 receiving yards, two touchdowns and a two point conversion. Without Harrison’s effort, CSU likely would have left Folsom with a win.
The Buffs’ wide receiver and cornerback rooms took an unfortunate hit, however, as star two way player Travis Hunter left the game with an injury and didn’t play after halftime. Hunter endured a cheapshot from former Fairview safety Henry Blackburn and was taken to the hospital to be evaluated at halftime. As of now, his exact injury is unclear but Coach Prime said he will miss a few weeks in his post game presser. This is a massive blow for the Buffs, as one of their best players won’t be able to face off against Oregon or USC in the next two weeks.
Speaking of CSU and cheapshots, the Rams had one of the most undisciplined games in recent memory. The Rams finished the game with a staggering 187 yards in penalties, which is hard to even comprehend. The Rams got hit with ten personal fouls against CU, which really hindered them throughout the game. If CSU would have actually played a clean and disciplined game, they would’ve flat out won the game. But Norvell did a poor job of controlling his men and cost the Rams the game.
Colorado’s defense and special teams really kept them in this game. Safety Shilo Sanders finally had his breakout performance against the Rams. Sanders finished the game with two pivotal turnovers on the Colorado side of the field, which kept the Rams from putting up more points. One of these turnovers was a pick six, and Sanders almost did Prime Time’s signature high step on the return. The big men up front had a great game, and only allowed CSU to gain 102 yards on the ground. Linebacker Juwan Mitchell 13 solo tackles and one tackle for a loss.
Through the first two weeks, Colorado’s secondary looked like it was one of the team’s strongest points. However, the secondary’s week three performance has called this sentiment into question. The Buffs got beat on crossing routes through the middle over and over by the Rams, which raised a lot of eyebrows. The Buffs are phenomenal when dropping back into man coverage, but their zone coverage leaves a lot to be desired. The Rams exploited CU’s weakness with their crossing routes, and the Buffs couldn’t do anything about it. CSU has potentially just shown the college football world a blueprint on how to beat the Buffs’ secondary, which is something defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and his gang need to address fast.
Colorado State has one of the best kick return units in the country, and CU has struggled defending against kick returns so far this season. This was an especially crucial matchup for the Buffs to win if they wanted to leave this week 3-0, and CU absolutely knocked it out of the park. CSU had nothing going for them off the kick, which was a very encouraging sign to see going forward. Maybe the Buffs’ special team woes in week one were just a fluke after all.
This week’s game was ugly as can be, but a win is a win. The Buffs are now 3-0 in the Coach Prime era and look to keep the good times rolling when they take on a really good Oregon team next Saturday. The Ducks will be the first real test for Coach Prime and his men. Colorado starts Pac-12 play in Eugene next week on Sept. 23 at 1:30 MT on ABC.