The game was eerily reminiscent to Super Bowl LI, except Tom Brady wasn’t leading the comeback, it was Oregon State’s Jake Luton. The Beavers erased a 28-point second half deficit to defeat the Buffaloes 41-34 in overtime and earn their first road victory since 2014. With their third straight loss, Colorado fell to 5-3 (2-3 Pac-12) on the season and remain one-win shy of becoming bowl eligible.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from the Buffaloes disappointing loss:
1. What happened in the 2ndhalf?
Travon McMillian’s 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter gave the Buffaloes a 31-3 lead. This scribe is still dumbfounded by what happened next. With quarterback Jake Luton at the helm, the Beavers outscored the Buffaloes 38-3 the remainder of the game. Luton, who replaced an ineffective Jack Colletto to start the second half, completed 28-of-39 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns. D.J. Eliot’s unit simply had no answer for the Oregon State senior - sidelined the last four games with a high ankle sprain – and his go-to wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (11 rec, 146 yards, 2 TD). It’s as if the Buffaloes defense was completely unprepared to face Luton.
But enough about Colorado’s defensive struggles. The Buffaloes, favored by 24 ½ points, had an opportunity to put this one away in the second half. Instead, in the 12 minutes and 54 seconds Colorado’s offense held the ball following McMillian’s touchdown, they managed just three points. THREE POINTS against an Oregon State defense that ranked second-to-last in the FBS in total defense (541 yards per game) entering the game.
“It was one we should have won because we were up. We should’ve put it away and didn’t.” Buffaloes Head Coach Mike MacIntyre said following the 28-point blown lead. Colorado could’ve put this one away with a heavy dose of Travon McMillian and Kyle Evans. Instead, they chose to use a more balanced attack, throwing the ball 17 times and running it 15 in their final six possessions. Of their 17 pass attempts, 12 came on either 1stor 2nddown.
2. Keep your head up K.D., the Buffaloes are lucky to have you
With Laviska Shenault sidelined for a second straight game, his former DeSoto (Texas) High School teammate put on a show Saturday in Boulder. Sophomore K.D. Nixon had his best game of season, finishing with 13 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite his jaw-dropping performance, Nixon had a chance to tie the game in overtime. On 3rd-and-goal from the Oregon State 7-yard line, Nixon dropped a Steven Montez pass in the end zone that ‘most-likely’ would’ve sent the game into a second overtime.
The play that could have revived Colorado in OT. Down 41-34, on 3rd and 7 Steven Montez tried to hit KD Nixon on a slant. So. Close. #CUBuffs likely doing some major soul searching after this one. pic.twitter.com/Op9c0O2fS8— Justin Guerriero (@TheHungry_Hippo) October 27, 2018
“My best game turned into my worst game.” Nixon said of his performance. “I let down the team, we lost the game because of me so I’ll live with it and I’ll make up for it.” Without Nixon Saturday, who knows what would’ve happened against the Beavers. He was one of the lone bright spots for a Colorado offense that looked anemic in the second half. Keep your head up K.D. I have no doubt you’ll come back stronger after this.
At least Nixon, Shenault and Chris Miller have these two beautiful puppies – featured on the Pac-12 Network’s pregame show - to console them after this heartbreaking loss.
KD Nixon, Laviska Shenault & Chris Miller just introduced us to their two new roommates and there’s serious potential for a puppy hostage situation in play rn. @KDN13_ @Viska2live @Cmillx pic.twitter.com/qcjNPqJKAp— Ashley Adamson (@AdamsonAshley) October 26, 2018
3. Need to erase this one from your memory and move on
Bottomline, this one is going to sting; however, the Buffaloes need to erase this loss from their memories quickly. There’s still a lot left to play for, including the opportunity to play in a bowl game. “I guess you could call this a gut-wrencher, a tear-your-guts-out type of game.” MacIntyre said. There’s no doubt in my mind that MacIntyre and the Buffaloes can come back from this. How long it will take is up to them. “At the end of the day, this is going to be a learning experience for us.” Montez said of the heartbreaking loss “It is going to be a chance for us to get tougher and to get better as a team.”
NEXT UP: November 2 at Arizona (4-5, 3-3 Pac-12), 8:30 PM MT, Fox Sports 1
‘Pac-12 After Dark’ resumes Friday as the Buffaloes travel to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats. Last year, Arizona’s Khalil Tate set an FBS record by a quarterback with 327 rushing yards in a 45-42 win in Boulder. This season, Tate has been hampered by an ankle injury and hasn’t been as effective running the ball. The Buffaloes hold a 14-6 all-time record against the Wildcats, with the teams splitting the last two meetings. With a victory, Colorado could become bowl eligible for just the second time since joining the Pac-12 Conference.