The monkey is off our backs, the ghosts of a decade gone wrong have been exorcised and Mike MacIntyre's rebuild is complete. The Colorado Buffaloes are bowl eligible eight games into the season and now have the Pac-12 South squarely in their sights. A contest that seemed to go by at light speed saw two defenses dominate and the Colorado Buffaloes finally do enough to make the entire damn nation stand up and notice.
The game started off simply enough with a three and out for Stanford and an eight-play drive for the Buffaloes that started off promising but died at midfield when Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau took sacks on first and third down. On the next drive Stanford put together a really nice 14-play, 66-yard drive that stalled out when the Colorado defense stiffened in the red zone and held the Cardinal to a field goal.
The teams traded three and outs before the Colorado offense woke up (temporarily at least) and delivered the kind of drive we've come to expect this season. A 9-play, 73-yard beauty that was ignited by big runs from Phillip Lindsay and Shay Fields and helped by receptions from Bryce Bobo and and Devin Ross was capped by a beautiful pass and catch from Liufau to Fields on third and thirteen.
Stanford would gain a total of 29 yards on their three remaining drives in the second half and ended the second quarter by throwing a deep ball that was intercepted by Tedric Thompson, moving the Buffaloes nation-leading streak of games with a turnover to 21. Colorado had an opportunity to make the lead bigger but a missed field goal (we'll come back to this...) from Chris Graham that left the score at 7-3 at halftime.
The Buffaloes got the ball moving again in the second half but missed field goals on their two opening drives, one by Graham and one by punter Alex Kinney. The Cardinal had an opportunity to take back the lead early in the fourth quarter after an eight-play, 60-yard drive but quarterback Ryan Burns fumbled the snap at the Colorado six and the Buffaloes recovered for their second turnover of the day.
The Colorado defense, realizing that they would have to be the ones to close out this game as the offense struggled against a stout Stanford defense, came up in a big way with 6:23 to go in the game and Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford offense starting to get moving. Tedric Thompson intercepted his second pass of the game and engineered a beautiful return that got the Buffaloes down to the Stanford 20. A penalty pushed the Buffaloes back a bit but a big Sefo Liufau run on third down and a Kyle Evans five yard run on fourth down gave Colorado a new set of downs and the ability to run off a big chunk of clock before Chris Graham split the uprights and gave the Buffaloes a ten-point lead that would not be relinquished (minus a safety with second remaining on the clock). An Isaiah Oliver interception effectively ended the game as Colorado won 10-5 and moved to 6-2, 4-1.
Phillip Lindsay paced the Buffaloes with 131 yards on the ground, keeping the momentum from his huge effort against the Sun Devils. Kyle Evans had some huge carries in tacking on 60 yards to the Colorado rushing total. Sefo Liufau threw for 125 yards on 12 completions off of 25 attempts. The Colorado defense held Christian McCaffrey to 92 yards on 21 carries and, without a doubt, won this game for the Buffs. Tedric Thompson played out of his mind with two interceptions and a near miss on a third. The whole defense deserves a game ball and Jim Leavitt deserves a MF'ing statue.
The Buffaloes get a well deserved day off this week before they welcome the UCLA Bruins to town on a Thursday night where a huge crowd and national television audience will watch a Top 25, bowl eligible Colorado Buffaloes team take the field.