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No. 12 Buffaloes rumble over Wildcats in the desert for a 49-24 win

Sefo Liufau throws three touchdowns to make a statement to the rest of the Pac-12 South.

For a football program that has been on the losing end of many battles over the past decade, the No. 12 Colorado Buffaloes (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) have turned a corner and rocketed past the expectations laid out at the start of the season.

Colorado hit the road for the last time this season wanting to set the pace in the race for the Pac-12 South. It’s wasn’t pretty throughout the first half for the Buffaloes, but an early 21-7 lead over the Arizona Wildcats (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) was enough to come home with a W.

Arizona used the second quarter to establish a stealthy running game with over 200 yards of total offense behind Brandon Dawkins and Samajie Grant. However, Colorado would not be stopped behind a healthy looking Sefo Liufau, who got the Buffs back on track right before halftime by finding Jay MacIntyre and Shay Fields for scores. The Buffs took a 28-10 lead going into intermission.

Offensive boost

Fields came into the game with career-best games against Arizona and Saturday's game in Tuscon was no exception. He had a big night with 108 yards and 2 touchdowns from Liufau. The first came on a 15-yard over-the-shoulder grab in the second quarter and the second on a 27-yard strike in the third.

Liufau still wasn't impressed saying, "There's a couple things we could have done better, and that all falls back on me. So I'll look at those mistakes and make sure we're better for Washington State."

In the second half the Buffaloes turned up the pressure on Arizona after being content to set back and let the Wildcats move the ball on the ground in the first. The Buffs piled on two more touchdowns on the way to a 49-24 victory.

The Buffs gained 388 total yards with a much needed offensive explosion. A good sign of things to come after CU’s defense reigned supreme in the past two weeks against Stanford and UCLA.

Liufau shook off the jitters to finish with 213 yards and four total touchdowns. Phillip Lindsay continued to be a dominant force out of the backfield, adding two additional scores. He’s the first Colorado back to hit the double-digit mark in touchdowns since Rodney Stewart 2008-11.

Defense getting back on track

Colorado’s defense was ganged up on at the start of the game and things started to settle down after a forced fumble by Rick Gamboa at the 5:45 mark of the second quarter. The "blackout brigade" continues to impress as one of the best overall in the nation, extending the consecutive turnover streak to 23 games.

The Wildcats have relied on the dual-threat of Dawkins to carry the majority of the offense throughout the season. He averaged 183.5 all-purpose yards coming into the game. Colorado's defense held him to a total of 188 yards.

Ending the drought

Colorado surpassed their win total in conference play from the past five years with a sixth win in 2016. The Buffs held a lousy 5-40 record in Pac-12 play coming into the season. Under MacIntyre, the Buffs are 13-6 when scoring 30+ points.

"Our young men have taken us from good to really good and hopefully next week they can take us to great," MacIntyre noted.

The story of the 2016 for the Buffaloes has been under—undervalued, underestimated and underdogs.

That’s all about to change.

Eight teams ranked in the top 25 suffered a lost including No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington. The last time two, three and four in the nation lost on the same day was Oct. 26, 1985 (No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Arkansas).

Colorado should move up within the top ten for the first time since Aug. 26, 2002. Next week will be a battle of Pac-12 leaders when Washington State comes to Boulder. No game time has been set for Saturday's matchup due to the six day rule. There's a good chance ESPN Gameday will be rolling into Boulder next week. Stay tuned for the excitement.