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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Colorado State Rams: Day after thoughts

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Looking back at a big Buffaloes win

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

With Colorado returning nine starters on offense and Colorado State coming off a 31-point win over Oregon State, the 89th edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown was supposed to be a shootout. Odds makers even set the over/under at 69.5 points. What happened Friday night was anything but a shootout. The Buffs prevailed 17-3 in a hard-fought defensive battle marred by some questionable pass interference calls.

MOMENT OF THE GAME: Afolabi Laguda’s timely strip

Trailing 17-3 with just under five and a half minutes to go in the 4th quarter, Colorado State’s Nick Stevens found receiver Warren Jackson in stride for 38-yards. But that big gain (along with CSU’s hopes of winning) was quickly eliminated when Buffs defensive back Afolabi Laguda quickly wrapped up Jackson and stripped him of the ball, which he scooped up. The fumble recovery was one of three takeaways the Buffs had in the game.

“We’re taught to get into the receivers’ faces and as a defense we just want to make a statement that defense is still here and the offense doesn’t have to carry us all season,” Udoffia said following the Buffs third consecutive win over their in-state rivals. “I think we proved that tonight.”

MOST VALUABLE BUFF: D.J. Eliot, Defensive Coordinator

You can talk all you want about the three highly-questionable offensive pass interference penalties that went against Colorado State, but you must admit CU’s first-year defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot had the Buffs defense ready to play Friday night. A week after the Rams put up 58 points on 525-yards of offense against Oregon State, Eliot’s defense held Colorado State to just three points and 397 yards. “I think he did a great job with the game plan,” Junior co-captain Rick Gamboa said of Eliot. “He helped us out with a lot of new guys playing for the first time, and I think the fact that he simplified it for us, let us play fast, I think that’s one thing that helped us a lot.”

Tip of the cap to junior defensive back Isaiah Oliver who shut down CSU’s top receiver Michael Gallup. Oliver held Gallup to just five receptions for 67 yards, a week after he torched Oregon State for 134 yards on 11 receptions.

NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT: Steven Montez, QB

The sophomore signal caller got off to a hot start completing nine of his first 10 passes, including a 31-yard touchdown strike to “Big Play” Shay Fields Jr. to propel the Buffs to a 17-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter. However, the heir to Sefo Liufau’s throne showed he still has a lot to learn, finishing the game 21-29 for 202-yards, the lone touchdown pass and two interceptions.

“I mean there’s still a lot to learn for me and a ton to learn for the offense,” Steven Montez said. “My high school coach used to always tell me it’s tough to win, and so any win you get is a blessing. That’s what I’m taking it as tonight, it’s a blessing and we ended up leaving with a victory.” He’s still raw, but man what a talent. Montez is a true gunslinger, with one of the strongest arms -- especially when on the run — in college football. If he can just work on his decision making and continue to spread the ball around to CU’s many talented receivers, the ceiling is high for the El Paso, Texas native.

NEXT UP: September 9 vs. Texas State (1-0), Noon MT, Pac-12 Networks

The Buffs begin a three-game home stand Saturday against Texas State. The Bobcats are coming off a 20-11 win over Houston Baptist.