Needing a win to become bowl eligible the defending Pac-12 South champion Colorado Buffaloes (5-7, 2-6 Pac-12) couldn’t recover from a sluggish first half start, eventually losing to Utah 34-13 Saturday in Salt Lake City. After opening the season 3-0, the Buffs lost seven of their nine league contests and failed to reach consecutive bowl games for the first time since the 2004-05 seasons.
For the second straight game the Buffaloes offense came out flat, failing to put any points on the board until Phillip Lindsay’s six-yard touchdown run with 9:34 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Steven Montez completed just 14 of 28 passes for 195 yards, a number of which were dropped by senior wide receiver Bryce Bobo (4 rec, 53 yards). The offensive line struggles that have plagued the Buffs lately continued against the Utes. CU’s sophomore signal caller was sacked five times, 2.5 which came from defensive lineman Bradlee Anae. Phillip Lindsay was held to under 100 yards rushing for the third straight game, finishing with 72 yards on 18 carries.
Once again D.J. Eliot’s unit failed miserably to stop the run. Utah sophomore Zack Moss broke multiple tackles in route to a career-high 196 rushing yards against the Buffs. For the third time in conference play, Colorado allowed 300-or-more total yards to an opponent. In their seven Pac-12 losses, CU’s defense gave up an average of 263 rushing yards per game, 55 yards more than their season average. Two weeks after blocking a punt against USC, CU inside linebacker Nate Landman recorded five tackles (two for loss), two pass breakups and forced a fumble against Utah.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Lou Groza Award semifinalist James Stefanou missed his only field goal attempt, a 51-yard try late in the first quarter. True freshman K.D. Nixon returned three kicks for a total of 78 yards, including a 34-yard return (his longest of the year) which led to that Stefanou field goal attempt.
Forget the fact that the Buffaloes were 10 ½ point underdogs. Since Colorado entered the Pac-12, every game against Utah prior to Saturday’s contest had been decided by seven points or less. This should’ve been a close game. Two weeks to prepare for your conference rival, a bowl bid on the line in arguably the biggest game of the year, and the Buffs lay an egg. Shaking my head.
Not many bright spots to highlight in this 34-13 loss to Utah. For the fourth time in the MacIntyre era the Buffs will be spending December wondering what could’ve been.
NEXT UP: Saturday, September 1 vs. Colorado State in Denver, CO
It’s going to a long offseason. Just under 280 days until the Buffaloes begin their 2018 campaign against their in-state rivals. The Buffs will need to make a big splash on National Signing Day (Wednesday, February 7, 2018) if they expect to play into December next year.