Ok, I'll admit it. There was a brief moment early in the 3rd quarter when I actually said to myself, "Is this really happening? Could the unranked Buffaloes, a 20-point underdog, actually win in the Big House AGAIN?" That moment came on the third play of the 2nd half when quarterback Sefo Liufau, hobbling on one leg after the previous play, connected with Shay Fields for a 70-yard touchdown to make it 28-24 Colorado.
A few plays later that moment was gone. De'Veon Smith's 42-yard touchdown run put Michigan back on top 31-28 and Colorado's all-time leading passer was headed back to the locker room with a sprained ankle.
Final score: Michigan 45, Colorado 28.
MOST VALUABLE BUFF: SEFO LIUFAU, QUARTERBACK
For the second straight week, Liufau earns Most Valuable Buff honors. Entering the game, Michigan's defense was allowing 103.5 passing yards per game. Liufau torched the Wolverines through the air Saturday completing 16-of-25 passes for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns in just over two quarters of play. As soon as Liufau left the game however, Colorado's offense stalled. The Buffaloes managed a total of 19 yards on 21 plays in his absence. GET WELL SOON, SEFO!
NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT: SPECIAL TEAMS
"The message to our team was that we got a good football team. We have to correct a few things. When you are playing another good football team, you have to do some of those things better so we will go back and correct them and move forward to the next game." - Head Coach Mike MacIntyre following Saturday's loss.
One punt is blocked and returned by Michigan's Grant Perry for a touchdown. Another punt caroms off senior lineman Shane Callahan's back for a 7-yard loss giving the Wolverines prime field position. A third punt is a line drive into the hands of one of the most dynamic players in college football, Jabrill Peppers, and returned 54-yards for a touchdown. Was Happy Gilmore supposed to be starting punter for the Buffs this week?
Coach Macintyre, when it comes to correcting "a few things," I'd suggest starting with the special teams unit.
MOMENT OF THE GAME: PROUD GRANDFATHER!
Less than 4 minutes into the game, Chidobe Awuzie laid the boom on Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight causing him to fumble. Colorado outside linebacker Derek McCartney scooped up the loose ball and returned it 18-yards to give the Buffs an early 14-0 lead. Watching this play unfold was Colorado's all-time winningest coach and Derek's grandfather Bill McCartney.
Awuzie forces fumble, McCarthy recovers for another BUFFALO TOUCHDOWN! Buffs up 14-0. https://t.co/IEtRnWBPQM— Colorado Buffaloes (@cubuffs) September 17, 2016
Before leading the Buffaloes to 93 wins during his 13-year career, McCartney was an assistant at Michigan under Bo Schembechler. McCartney, who was diagnosed with late-onset Alzheimer's last month, returned to Ann Arbor to appear as Colorado's honorary captain opposite former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady.
NEXT UP: SEPTEMBER 24 at OREGON
Colorado and Oregon each enter Pac-12 play on the heels of a loss to a Big Ten school (Oregon losing at Nebraska 35-32). Much like the Buffaloes, the Ducks suffered an injury to one of their star players as well. Running Back Royce Freeman left the game versus Nebraska in the 2nd quarter with a right leg injury and did not return. Freeman ran for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns last season in a 41-24 win over Colorado.
Oregon also lost wide receiver/U.S. Olympian Devon Allen in the Nebraska game after suffering a non-contact injury while defending a punt return.
Injuries aside, the Colorado Buffaloes mission is clear. "Our goal is to win the Pac-12 championship, win the south and get into the Pac-12 Championship game." MacIntyre said following the Michigan game. "We definitely have all of that still in front of us for sure. It is definitely something we think we can do."
That goal begins Saturday in Eugene, Oregon.