After falling behind 24-23 in the third quarter, Colorado outscored CSU by an 18-3 margin, handing Mike MacIntyre his first win as the Buffs' head coach.
Connor Wood likely was unrecognizable to anyone who saw him play in 2012, as he racked up 400 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Wood was patient, making check downs when he needed to, and he had time to operate in the pocket, thanks to an offensive line that seems to have improved tenfold.
Any questions about Paul Richardson's knee were answered just over two minutes into the game, when CU's second offensive play from scrimmage saw CSU bring a heavy blitz, which Wood escaped, as he spotted Richardson wide open down the left side of the field for an easy 82-yard touchdown. Richardson would accumulate 208 receiving yards on the afternoon.
Two drives later, Colorado added to their lead, as Will Oliver capped a 17-play, 69-yard drive with his first of four field goals on the afternoon.
CSU responded with a field goal of their own, but they still couldn't stop Wood, who surgically picked apart the Rams' defense, finding D.D. Goodson in the endzone with an inch-perfect pass to put the Buffs up by a 17-3 count.
The Rams would counter with a solid drive, as quarterback Garrett Grayson and wide receiver Joe Hansley linked up to march CSU into the red zone, where running back Kapri Bibbs, who saw most of the carries for Colorado State after starter Donnell Alexander left the game in the first quarter after suffering an upper-extremity injury, found the end zone on a seven-yard off-tackle run.
Colorado seemed content to go into the locker room holding the 17-10 lead, but CSU shot themselves in the foot, as linebacker Cory James was called for a Personal Foul, allowing the Buffs to get into field goal range, as Oliver drilled a 41-yarder to extend the CU lead to ten at the half.
Buffs fans likely experienced some déjà vu at the beginning of the second half, as a series of Colorado mistakes brought back unpleasant memories of CU's second-half collapse against the Rams in 2012. It only took CSU 10:50 to take their first lead, as the Rams returned a Darragh O'Neill punt for a touchdown, and an Oliver kickoff that CSU returned to the Colorado 16 turned into six points, as Bibbs found the end zone again to tie the game.
For the first time in the MacIntyre era, Colorado was facing adversity. The response was not panicky, like in years past, but calm.
Both teams exchanged stalled drives, and the score remained 24-23 in CSU's favor entering the fourth quarter. CU reclaimed the lead as Oliver drilled a 52-yard field goal (with room to spare) - the same distance MacIntyre elected to bring on O'Neill to punt just a drive before.
Colorado's defense, clearly much improved, left their mark with CSU driving, as Chidera Uzo-Diribe forced a Hansley fumble. Greg Henderson picked up the ball along the left sideline and ran 52 yards for a Colorado touchdown. It was the first fumble recovery to be returned for a touchdown by a Buff since Josh Moten scored at Arizona State in 2011.
CSU remained resilient, as Jared Roberts nailed a 30-yard field goal to bring the Rams to within a score, 33-27. However, Connor Wood and Paul Richardson connected to put the final nail in CSU's coffin with a 75-yard pitch and catch, as the Buffs would go on to win, 41-27.
27 points conceded does not represent how well the CU defense looked. They were burned by remarkably poor special teams coverage. Freshmen Addison Gillam and Chiobe Awuzie looked like stars in the making for the Buffs.
With the win, MacIntyre becomes the first CU head coach to win his first game since Rick Neuheisel's Buffs beat Wisconsin 43-7 in 1995.
Next up for Colorado is Central Arkansas on Saturday. The Bears demolished Incarnate Word 58-7 on Thursday.