It’s time to for the Colorado Buffaloes to be ranked in the Top 25.
The Buffs blew out the visiting Oregon State Beavers by a score of 47-6, which somehow looks closer than the actual game would entail. This victory was Colorado’s second in Pac-12 play and fourth overall. They have now blown out three opponents, beat a previously ranked team in their hectic home stadium, and challenged a top-five team in their impenetrable Big House. This Colorado team is good.
The Buffs started the game uncharacteristically slow as they went three-and-out on their first drive of the game. Steven Montez threw three incomplete passes, and only one of them was close to catchable. It was the first time CU hadn’t scored on their possession this season.
After a long Oregon State drive that ended in a field goal — CU had trouble stopping their lightning-and-thunder ground game — the Buffs offense got back to their high-scoring selves. Running back Kyle Evans started CU’s second drive with six straight runs that yielded three first downs. On the seventh play, a play action pass from Montez found Shay Fields wide open down the field for a 51-yard touchdown.
CU’s pass rush combined with excellent pass coverage to force another Beavers punt. The Buffs’ ensuing possession was eerily similar to their previous one, except Phillip Lindsey replaced Kyle Evans finding and exploiting open lanes. This drive also ended with Montez finding Fields wide open in the end zone for a long touchdown pass. On the play, the offensive line gave Montez approximately 260 seconds to scan the field in search of a receiver. Fields was defended tightly, but no matter the coverage, it’s only a matter of time before he finds an open seam.
Shortly thereafter, that same sequence played out again. Oregon State had a somewhat promising drive that stalled out around the 40-yard-line, then CU got the ball and Montez found Fields for yet another long touchdown. Montez threw a screen pass to the right hash, Fields grabbed it, cut past the cornerback and outran the entire Oregon State defense for a 63-yard score, his longest of the day.
With 11:30 left in the second, Montez already had 176 yards on 7-10 passing with three touchdowns. Fields had 160 of those yards and all three touchdowns.
Oregon State’s next possession was a success, relatively. They drove the ball deep into Colorado territory, but the Buffs defense tightened up and forced the Beavers to kick a 40-yard field goal.
The Buffs promptly marched down the field and ran the Beavers into the grave. Lindsey, Montez and Evans took turns runs running the ball through their putrid rushing defense. Lindsey eventually scored on a 4th-and-goal from a foot away. That score effectively ended the game, as it gave the Buffs a 27-6 lead with only a few minutes left in the half. Yes, CU has given up leads of that size before and will in the future (so sad, I know), but there was no way Oregon State could score 21 on the Buffs defense.
Led by Jimmie Gilbert’s and the pass rush, CU’s defense forced a punt another punt. This left enough time for the offense to score before half, and that they did. Montez sprayed the ball all over the field to all his receivers, but the drive fizzled out on the 35-yard-line after a Jay MacIntyre catch was reviewed and ruled incomplete. This set the stage for walk-on freshman Davis Price to make a 54-yard field goal in his first career attempt. Price’s kick was the longest made field goal for a freshman in CU history, Mason Crosby included.
OSU got the ball back with 50 seconds left in the clock and were most likely going to run out the clock and head to half with a 24-point deficit, but disaster struck for them. Freshman quarterback Conor Blount — he replaced the struggling Darrel Garretson, whose ancestors misspelled their name at Ellis Island — threw a screen pass that found Rich Gamboa’s hands. Gamboa, with all his speed, raced past unimpeded to the end zone for the late score. If there was any Oregon State would get back into the game, that play laid that to rest. Gamboa’s interception also extended Colorado’s streak of forcing a turnover to 18 games, the longest such streak in the nation.
The third quarter was mostly a lull of solid defense and long punts. The most notable play of the quarter came when on the CU defense’s second interception of the day. The Beavers threw to the left sideline, but senior safety and NFL hopeful Tedric Thompson skied for the ball, deflected it, and came down with the bobbled catch just as he fell out of bounds. His play survived replay review.
The Buffs followed Thompson’s play with a promising and time-consuming drive that ended in a made field goal from Price, this one a chip shot from 22 yards out, CU’s only points in the quarter.
Oregon State put together an effective drive after that, but as they had many times before, were rebuffed once they got past midfield. On this drive, they looked ready to score, but Jimmie Gilbert had a key sack on first down to stamp out any offensive momentum the Beavers had. This was the latest of Gilbert’s many great plays throughout the day. He was without a doubt CU’s best defender, as he had seven tackles, two sacks and a litany of quarterback pressures.
Colorado got the ball back and subbed in their backups. Montez finished the game with 293 passing yards on 19-27 passing and three touchdowns. It’s now safe to say his incredible performance against Oregon wasn’t a mirage.
Quarterback Jordan Gehrke and running back Michael Adkins entered the game. The two spent the ensuing drive trading off effective rushes through the heart of the OSU defense. The drive ended with Adkins breaking through for a touchdown, his first score of the year and 13th of his injury-plagued career. If he can stay healthy the rest of the season, it would be a boon for the Buffs’ running game.
Adkins’ touchdown and the ensuing PAT gave CU 47 points on the day, the most they have scored in this season, the most they have scored on an FBS opponent since putting up 48 on UMass last season, and the most they have scored in a Pac-12 game since scoring 56 in that classic barnburner against Cal in 2014.
Next week, the Buffaloes will look for another big road win against the floundering USC Trojans.