In the final Rocky Mountain Showdown at the newly named Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, the Colorado Buffaloes put on an offensive show, making CSU look like a high school team in the process.
CU got off to a hot start and never looked back. Colorado marched 75 yards down the field on their opening possession in just five plays. The drive took less than a minute and a half, and was capped off by a 38-yard Steven Montez touchdown run.
“Man I just didn't fall over,” Montez said after the game. “I was running and I kind of looked back, peeped back and saw how close they were to me and it seemed like they were catching up to me so I was like uh-oh, better get in the end zone, so I started to stumble and I was trying to empty out all the gas but there was no more gas so I almost tripped and fell over and looked like a fool but we got it done so that was good.”
After forcing a Rams punt on a drive where five out of their six plays were runs, Colorado continued their dominance over CSU’s defense when Montez threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to KD Nixon down the left sideline.
CSU responded nicely on their following possession with three chunk completions from quarterback KJ Carta Samuels to wide receiver Olabisi Johnson, including a 26-yard touchdown pass. However, the Buffaloes responded promptly. At the end of the first quarter the Buffs offense had over 242 yard of total offense. They didn’t attempt a single third down and Montez was a perfect 12/12 through the air. Additionally, all three of their touchdown drivers were two and a half minutes or less - with the longest spanning 2:29.
When CSU cornerback VJ Banks picked off Montez on the first play of the second quarter, the Rams had an opportunity to swing the momentum. But after completing a risky, yet huge 4th-and-2 from their own 45, CSU gave the ball right back when Davion Taylor tipped a pass into the hands of Nate Landman. Even after the Buffs had a minor bump in the road with the head scratching turnover the mentality didn’t chance for offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini, who thrived in his play calling debut.
“We took a shot and we turned it over, but Coach Mac got right back on the headset and said ‘Chiv keep being aggressive’ so you want that from your head coach to allow you to attack defense and we have the skillful athletes to do that.”
The Buffs extended their lead to 28-7 when Juwann Winfree made a sensational grab in the corner of the end zone. The drive was highlighted by a impressive 16-yard catch and run play to Laviska Shenault. The Buffs feasted off short yardage pitch plays in the first half to Shenault and fellow DeSoto product KD Nixon. The two accounted for over 50 percent (184 out of 332) of Colorado’s yards from scrimmage in the first half.
Laviska continued his hot night with an explosive 89-yard catch and run which effectively put the game away for the Buffs. Shenault finished the night with a Rocky Mountain showdown record 211 yards on 11 catches in his starting debut for the Buffs.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” offensive Chiaverini said on the performance of both Shenault and Nixon. “I was really impressed with them when I saw them in high school - physically gifted but also have a dog mentality and want to play the game of football. These kids [Shenault and Nixon] are true sophomores and they played like juniors and seniors today.”
After the Rams failed to muster up any offensive consistency, head coach Mike Bobo put in sophomore Collin Hill - who is five months removed from a torn ACL - at quarterback. CSU’s offense promptly went 3-and-out, and graduate transfer Travon McMillan showed off some explosiveness on a 49-yard TD run for good measure.
One of the biggest storylines surrounding tonights game was the return of Bobo to the Rams sidelines. The news came after he spent extended time in the hospital treating nerve damage in his feet, something that forced him to spend the season opener as a spectator in the press box. Today the former versatile quarterback from Georgia was seen hobbling on the sidelines in seemingly more pain than anyone else on the field.
“It was very important [for me to be on the sidelines],” Bobo said. “Last week leading up to that first game was very difficult, ten days in the hospital and basically coming back from Wednesday, it was a hard week, this week was still a hard week but I felt I needed to be down there. Our players are hurting every play to, I can walk, I can move I’m going to be down there - and hopefully I keep getting better.”
By the time the fourth quarter started, the entire starting offense and defense for the Buffs was out of the game with Sam Noyer & Tyler Lytle splitting the snaps under center. This included the long awaited debut of offensive lineman Jake Moretti, who was sidelined for over two years (27 months to be exact) with a gruesome knee injury.
“It was awesome,” Mike MacIntyre said with a brimming smile. “When I told him he was going in he was going in, it was exciting to see him go in there and do that and I know it meant a lot to him and he’s going to be really good. He keeps coming on, and some days he gets sore, but he’s making strides. We all wish it was faster than it was but his patience and persistence and mental toughness is amazing.”
Next week, the Buffs will travel to Lincoln for their first game against their former rival, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, since 2010. Naturally, this was a game that everyone in the media was excited to ask Coach MacIntyre questions about (although as one could expect he refused to answer). After getting a much needed feel-good blowout win to boost their confidence, the excitement level for Buffs players, coaches, and fans couldn't be any higher.