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Colorado Buffaloes can't finish Arizona Wildcats in 38-31 loss

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CU's offense can't execute in the 4th quarter of another losing effort.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes (3-4, 0-3 Pac-12) couldn't outmatch the constant offensive attack of the Arizona Wildcats (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) in a 38-31 home defeat. The game was kept close by the Buffs shutting out the Wildcats in the second and third quarters, but it was poor execution in the fourth that kept CU from winning their first conference game of the season. The Buffs held a conference opponent scoreless in two straight quarters for the first time since 2011. Arizona made the proper adjustments and outscored Colorado with three touchdowns late in the game.

CU's defense got consistent pressure on Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon forcing UA coach Rich Rodriguez to opt for backup Jerrard Randall, who orchestrated the Wildcats offense in a new and somewhat unexpected way. Randall became a dual-threat nightmare against the Buffs by gaining a combined 123 yards on three drives. Arizona had an equal distribution on the ground and through the air on offense with 616 total yards, averaging of 7.3 yards per play. Solomon lead the charge through the majority of the game, finishing with 283 yards and two touchdowns while being sacked four times by CU's defense.

Colorado did have some bright spots on both sides of the ball, but it wasn't enough of an effort yet again. Quarterback Sefo Liufau looked rejuvenated and injury-free for the first time in the past couple weeks. He went 28-43 for 339 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort and was heavily protected by the offensive line, who only allowed two Arizona sacks.

Liufau's obvious frustration carried throughout the course of the game due to the offense not being able to construct lengthy drives down the field.

"Yeah it sucks", Sefo said about the game. "We just have to finish a game. It is as simple as that."

The road might become tougher for Liufau after his primary deep threat receiver Shay Fields went down with a ankle injury on CU's final touchdown of the game. Sefo knows without Fields for an extended period of time the offense must find a way to come together.

"Everybody has to step up and be able to pick up Shay's load, for lack of a better word."

Before being sidelined with the injury, Fields finished with 8 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Keeping the game close and not falling apart in the 4th quarter was something that CU head coach Mike MacIntyre preached in the offseason. With the exception of last week against Arizona State, the Buffs have still squandered the opportunities going into the late stages of games. MacIntyre guaranteed a win against Arizona and fell short of expectations. The defense might have improved, but the same struggles still exist by not being able to hold teams.

"We have to play better defense, we can't give up 600 yards and that's not very good," MacIntyre said about his team's performance.

"They made some good plays on us. Right there in that spurt when we were holding them scoreless if we could have gotten up maybe 31-17 instead of 24-17, might of made a bigger difference."

With the loss, the Buffs tie a school record with 14 straight conference losses. The progress is significant, but still no wins to show for the effort.

Up next for Colorado is back-to-back road contests against the Oregon State Beavers and No. 18 UCLA Bruins. The Buffs have a very winnable game ahead in Corvallis and many are predicting it as CU's lone conference win on the season. A win could be a stepping stone into a Halloween meeting at the Rose Bowl with UCLA. The rest of the season could be rough venture for the Buffs depending on the outcome for both games.