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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Northern Colorado Bears: Day after thoughts

Was Saturday an aberration or a continuation of a tread?

NCAA Football: Northern Colorado at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

“In sports, nothing goes perfectly very often,” Colorado Head Coach Mike MacIntyre said following the Buffs 41-21 win over Northern Colorado. “You have to learn how to adapt and how to handle adversity and handle situations and keep playing.”

There were plenty of moments Saturday in Boulder when the Buffs looked like the 10-win team that played for a Pac-12 Championship nine months ago. There were also plenty of mistakes, making Buffs fans question whether this team is ready for conference play. Let’s chalk this one up as a ‘get it out of your system’ game. The real test begins next week.

MOST VALUABLE BUFF: STEVEN MONTEZ, QB

The sophomore signal caller threw for a career-high 357 yards and four touchdowns in the win, giving the Buffs their first 3-0 start since 2008. Beyond the numbers, the maturation of the young gunslinger could be seen on his 28-yard touchdown strike to Shay Fields Jr. in the second quarter. “The play he made where he gets out of the pocket and has the sixth sense to stay behind the line of scrimmage and just throws that ball to Shay [Fields] was a big-time play.” MacIntyre said of his quarterback.

MOMENT OF THE GAME: LINDSAY BROTHERS SHARE THE SAME FIELD

In front of several family members, Buffs tailback Phillip Lindsay recorded his eighth career 100-yard game, finishing with 26 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown. One of those family members was watching from the opposing sideline. Saturday marked the first time Phillip played against his younger brother Zachary, a backup running back for Northern Colorado.

"It was a good feeling to get out on the field with my brother," Lindsay told Buffzone.com writer Brian Howell. "It was just a good feeling to see him out there playing." Zachary, a redshirt-junior, finished with one carry for five yards.

BIGGEST QUESTION: ARE THE BUFFS READY TO TAKE ON THE PAC-12?

Non-conference play is over and despite the 3-0 start, I’m still not sure what to make of this Buffs team. After holding their first two opponents without a touchdown (17-3 vs. Colorado State, 37-3 vs. Texas State) the Buffs looked vulnerable against Northern Colorado. Junior quarterback Jacob Knipp picked apart Colorado’s secondary with touchdown passes of 33, 52 and 27 yards. The Buffs were also flagged 14 times against the Bears, including targeting calls against free safety Afolabi Laguda and defensive end Chris Mulumba, both of whom were ejected. Offensively, the Buffs appear to be trending upward after Saturday’s performance, however they did turn the ball over twice in the red zone against Northern Colorado. “When we have the opportunity to put someone away we need to do it.,” explained co-captain Jeromy Irwin. “That’s something we’ve been struggling to do so next week against Washington will be a big test.”

NEXT UP: September 23 vs. (6) Washington, 8 p.m. MT, Fox Sports 1

Nothing like a rematch of the Pac-12 Championship in Boulder to open conference play. Washington (3-0) is coming off a 48-16 win over Fresno State. D.J. Eliot’s defense will be tasked with shutting down two of the top offensive threats in the Pac-12, Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (798 pass yards, 8 TD) and running back Myles Gaskin (153 rush yards, 3 TD). The Buffs enter the game having won eight straight at Folsom Field.