On a day when upsets were the norm across the college football landscape, Colorado's offense got back on track with a dominating 49-24 win over Arizona Saturday evening. It was exactly the game the Buffs needed after managing just 30 points their last two contests, a 10-5 win at Stanford and a 20-10 victory versus UCLA.
"It was really important for us as an offense to get back on track and go out there and put up points on the board," said senior quarterback Sefo Liufau, "because we've really been leaving our defense out to dry these past couple of weeks."
Picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South prior to the season, Colorado (No. 12 AP & Coaches) is now 8-2 overall and remains atop the division with a 6-1 record.
MOST VALUABLE BUFF: SHAY FIELDS, WIDE RECEIVER
"Our offense will start clicking and get in the end zone, and we're going to need to in these games coming up for sure." Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said earlier in the week. In the wins against Stanford and UCLA, the big plays in the passing game which were a staple of the Buffs offense earlier in the season were missing.
‘Big Play' Shay Fields was the jump start that Colorado's offense needed. The junior wide receiver from Bellflower, California hauled in catches of 47 and 27 yards in his first 100-plus yard effort since the Buffs October 1st win vs Oregon State. Fields finished with 6 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns in Colorado's first win in Tucson since 1985.
Colorado Buffaloes (@cubuffs) November 13, 2016
"It felt great, especially with the last two games we've had," Fields said. "The passing game has not been there."
MOMENT OF THE GAME: JIMMIE GILBERT'S TIMELY SACK
Leading 28-10 at halftime, Colorado's offense was held to a three-and-out and forced to punt on their first possession of the 3rd quarter. Alex Kinney's 47-yard punt pinned the Wildcats at their own 18-yard line. 12-plays later Arizona was inside the red zone and threatening to cut into the Colorado lead.
Enter the 6'5, 230 pound Jimmie Gilbert.
With the Wildcats facing a crucial 3rd-and 3 from the Buffs 18-yard line, the outside linebacker from College Station, Texas sacked quarterback Brandon Dawkins, pushing the Wildcats back to the 27-yard line.
"One thing coach Leavitt always says is don't miss a layup," said Gilbert, who was untouched on the play. "So I have to capitalize on that opportunity."
On the very next play, Arizona placekicker Josh Pollack's 44-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left, his third miss of the game. Gilbert finished with six total tackles and two sacks on the day. The senior now has nine total sacks on the season, tying him for 12th in the nation.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: BUFFS (INCLUDING RALPHIE) ROLL OUT MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE VIDEOS
Usually I reserve this section of the column for the biggest question facing the Buffs or perhaps discuss an area where they could use improvement. Not today. From Cowboys owner Jerry Jones aboard his private jet to the BYU women's gymnasts hanging from the uneven bars, ‘Mannequin Challenge' videos have dominated social media over the past few weeks. How popular is this new craze? According to Twitter, there have been well over 4 million tweets this month alone.
This week the Buffaloes and their beloved live-mascot Ralphie decided to get in on the action. Following the Buffs win over the Wildcats, CU's Emmy-award winning video department released a ‘Mannequin Challenge' video of the team inside the visiting locker room.
Not to be outdone, here's Ralphie and her handlers' attempt at the ‘Mannequin Challenge'
The music which usually accompanies each video is from Rae Sremmurd's track "Black Beatles." There is a line in the chorus that goes "That girl is a real crowd pleaser," hence the above tweet.
NEXT UP: NOVEMBER 19 vs (23) WASHINGTON STATE (8-2, 7-0 Pac-12)
With her handlers by her side, Ralphie V will lead the Buffs onto Folsom Field Saturday before they take on Pac-12 North leader Washington State.
The Cougars (No. 20 AP & Coaches) are coming off a 56-21 win over California and may just be the hottest team in the Pac-12. Washington State is 13-2 in their last 15 conference games, including 7-0 this season. Led by redshirt-junior quarterback Luke Falk, the Cougars are averaging 385.5 passing yards per game, second in the nation behind only Mike Leach's former team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Thus it goes without saying the key to a much-needed Colorado victory will be keeping Washington State's offense off the field.
In order to do that, Phillip Lindsay (25 rush, 119 yards & 3 TD vs Arizona) and the Buffs must be able to run the ball against the Cougars, but that's not as easy as it sounds. Second year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch (the nephew of former Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel) has the Cougars defense allowing a mere 116.9 rush yards per game to opposing offenses. On the flip side, the Buffs are 8-0 this season when rushing for 100-plus yards in a game.
"Our young men have taken us from good to really good," Mike MacIntyre said following the win over Arizona. "Now they have a chance to take us to great."