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Colorado Football 49 Beats Arizona 24

From Pak 12
Number 12 Colorado’s 49-24 win over Arizona on Saturday night. Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau went 19 of 27 for 213 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, while on the ground Phillip Lindsay rushed for 119 yard From Pak 12

From Neil woelk CU Buffaloes
TUCSON, Ariz. — It might not have been picture perfect, but on a day when upsets commanded college football headlines, the Colorado Buffaloes’ 49-24 win over Arizona on Saturday evening was plenty good enough.

Guaranteed, the folks at Clemson, Michigan, Washington, Auburn and Texas A&M would love to be discussing a win this morning.

Not that the Buffs (No. 16 AP, No. 12 CFP) were ever in danger of falling prey to an upset. After a slow start, the offense did its job, pulling away to a 28-10 halftime lead and a 42-10 edge by the end of the third quarter.

The defense, meanwhile, spent the evening playing bend but don’t break. The Buffs did give up more yards than most folks would have guessed — Arizona actually outgained Colorado 417-388 — but the Buffs also keep the Wildcats out of the end zone when it mattered most.

Thus, while a suddenly finicky fan base may find some things to question, the bottom line is this: the team picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South is instead 8-2 overall and leading the division with a 6-1 record with two games to go. That same team will now play host to Washington State on Saturday in a game that will feature the Pac-12’s division leaders.

Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Folsom Field and the game will be nationally televised by Fox (KDVR) with Gus Johnson and former Buffs quarterback standout Joel Klatt calling the game.

Let’s repeat that. Colorado and Washington State will square off Saturday in Boulder in late November in a game featuring the Pac-12 division leaders.

Savor that for just a minute — then consider what the Buffs accomplished on a day when the football gods were casting about all manner of complications for teams around the nation.

For starters, the Buffs got their offense moving back in the right direction. Quarterback Sefo Liufau threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns, and also ran for 56 yards and another score. Running back Phillip Lindsay notched his third 100-yard game this season, finishing with 119 and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Shay Fields caught six passes for 108 yards and a pair of scores and fellow wideout Jay MacIntyre had a 40-yard touchdown reception, the longest of his career.

“It was good to get the offense back on track,” Fields said. “We did some good things. We still made some mistakes, but we did what we have to do.”

Even more impressive was that the offense did it behind a patchwork line. Starting left tackle Jeromy Irwin, who was sick all week, did not play — but senior Shane Callahan stepped in and performed admirably. Starting right tackle Sam Kronshage didn’t play because of a shoulder injury, but redshirt freshman Aaron Haigler filled the bill in his stead. Starting left guard Gerrad Kough went out with an ankle injury and his replacement, Jonathan Huckins, also went out briefly with an injury before returning.

But when push came to shove, CU’s offensive line shoved the Wildcats out of the way, paving the way for a respectable 175 yards on the ground while limiting Arizona to just two quarterback sacks.

“Klayton (Adams, offensive line coach) did an unbelievable job with them,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “And my hat’s off to Shane Callahan. He went in at left tackle and played awesome.”

Defensively, the Buffs were good enough and then some. While Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins and running back Samajie Grant did cause some problems, the Buffs stopped them when they had no other choice. CU’s defense was outstanding inside the 20, limiting the Wildcats to one touchdown in the first three quarters. CU recorded four quarterback sacks, including a pair from Jimmie Gilbert, while getting nine tackles from Kenneth Olugbode and six apiece from Ryan Moeller and Gilbert.

CU also kept alive its nation-leading streak of producing at least one defensive takeaway, stretching the mark to 23 when Rick Gamboa recorded a second-quarter fumble recovery.

And, CU’s special teams were up to snuff. Davis Price returned to placekicking duties and was perfect on seven PAT tries while CU’s return teams were solid, as were the coverage teams.

It was, simply a top-to-bottom efficient, effective performance on a day when plenty of other top-20 teams couldn’t muster the same kind of effort. The Buffs left for Arizona aiming to come home one step closer to their goal of a Pac-12 championship, and they accomplished exactly that.

Now, they’ll have the chance to seal the deal at home. They host Washington State next Saturday, followed by the regular season finale with Utah one week later at Folsom Field.

“Our young men have taken us from good to really good,” MacIntyre said. “Now they have a chance to take us to great.”

Already, the Buffs have accomplished more than most people believed possible when the season began. But no one in the CU locker room is ready to pronounced the mission accomplished.

“We’re one step closer,” Liufau said. “Now Washington State is the biggest game for us. They just keep getting a little more important every week.”

For the older players on team, those who have been through two or three years of difficult times, games such as Saturday’s win are simply another reminder of where they’ve been and how far they’ve come. They came into the game having lost four straight to the Wildcats; now UA is just the latest team to see such a win streak against Colorado come to an end.

“We’re getting closer to that complete game,” Liufau said. “We needed the offense to come around and help the defense out. Our special teams played well. We know we can play better; we just have to go out and do that next week.”