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Colorado Buffaloes vs. California Golden Bears: Report Card

Insights from a big Buffs win.

California v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes finally put together a complete performance Saturday in route to defeating the California Golden Bears 44-28. With the victory, Colorado became the 25th school in NCAA history to register 700 wins, now holding an all-time-record of 700-498-36. This is a report card the Buffs might want to bring home to the parents, maybe hang from the refrigerator.

OFFENSE: A-

After much speculation, as to who would start under center all week, Steven Montez got the nod and didn’t disappoint. The sophomore signal caller finished 20-26 for 347 yards and three touchdowns, also adding a seven-yard rushing TD. Montez has now thrown 134 consecutive passes and counting without an interception, 18 behind Sefo Liufau’s school record 152. ‘Big Play’ Shay Fields finally broke through with four catches for 101 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown strike from Montez early in the second quarter for his 20th career TD reception. Phillip Lindsay (33 rush, 161 yards) went over 100 yards on the ground for the fifth time this season and 11th in his career. Through nine games, Lindsay now has 1,254 rushing yards, just 133 yards behind the FBS leader, Stanford’s Bryce Love.

DEFENSE: B

Four sacks, five quarterback hurries, six tackles for a loss and a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Nick Fisher is a good reason why D.J. Eliot’s unit is receiving a positive mark this week. The grade would’ve been higher except the Buffs secondary did allow 28 points and two California wideouts – Jordan Veasy & Kanawai Noa – to each go over 100 receiving yards on the day.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

James Stefanou connected on all three of his field goal attempts. Take notice Lou Groza Award voters, the 30-year old frosh is now 13-of-15 on field goals and 28-of-28 on extra point attempts in nine games. Alex Kinney pinned the Bears offense deep with a 63-yard punt in the 3rd quarter, while Ronnie Blackmon continues to impress in return duties.

COACHING: B+

“I can say now that it worked exactly like I thought it would,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said after the game of the quarterback competition between Montez and Sam Noyer in practice. Starting Montez paid off big for the Buffs on Saturday. The offensive play calling was superb and it was nice to see a couple of plays – Fields’ 65-yard TD reception, Lavisak Shenault’s 58-yard catch – go for big yards; something the Buffaloes benefitted from last season.

“It feels good. It is something our coaches have been harping on all week,” inside linebacker Drew Lewis said of the pressure Eliot’s defense put on the Bears.

The play calling on the defensive side of the ball was aggressive, something that had been missing most of the year. Lewis, Jase Franke, George Frazier and safety Evan Worthington all recorded sacks.

OVERALL: A-

Offense and defense was firing on all cylinders. Easily the most complete game of the season thus far. The sky is the limit if the Buffs continue to play like they did against California.

NEXT UP: November 4 at Arizona State (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) – 7:00 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks

The Buffs look to keep the momentum going Saturday against an Arizona State team coming off a 48-17 loss to USC. Last season Phillip Lindsay (career-high 219 rush yards, 3 TD) carried the Buffs to their first win over the Sun Devils in program history.