Through their first two games of the 2020 college football season, the Colorado Buffaloes offense carried them. The Buffs bucked that trend, however, as they relied on a strong defensive performance. Because of this performance, they were able to win 20-10 victory against San Diego State on Saturday at Folsom Field.
Colorado Buffaloes Use Ball Control Offense to Take Lead
A few days ago, the Buffaloes were prepping for a huge Pac-12 South matchup against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum. USC could not play this week, as they are dealing with COVID-19 cases within their program. Despite the Buffaloes not being able to play Pac-12 competition for the second straight week, they were ready to play the Aztecs.
After SDSU went three-and-out on their first possession, the Buffaloes were able to use an effective run game on a 16-play march. Sophomore running back Jarek Broussard had two big runs of 19 and 16 yards to set the Buffs up for success on the drive. Colorado was able to use a good mix of running and passing to get into the red zone. Despite that, the Aztecs were able to force the Buffs into a 4th-and-goal at the one-yard line. On 4th-and goal, Sam Noyer was able to run the football in for a touchdown on a quarterback sweep. CU got the extra point and went up 7-0.
That first touchdown drive took the Buffaloes 6:05. Their second touchdown drive in the second quarter took 7:09. They showed that they can play a ball-control style of game and capitalize on opportunities. Shortening the game comes with its risks, but the Buffs were able to take advantage of their opportunities.
Bad Play Helped San Diego State Stay in the Game
However, one bad play can change the trajectory of the game when a team plays a ball-control style game. This bad play happened for the Buffaloes, as Sam Noyer threw his second interception of the season. San Diego State junior cornerback Darren Hall returned the interception 57 yards for a touchdown. The Buffs had dominated play, but only had a 14-7 lead.
The Buffaloes had to punt on their subsequent possession, giving the ball back to San Diego State. SDSU was able to drive down the field and kick a 48-yard field goal before halftime. The Buffaloes were the better team in the first half by far. Yet, they only had a four-point lead to show for it.
The defense came to play against the Aztecs. San Diego State had seven three-and-outs and turned the ball over on downs once. In total, the Buffaloes defense held SDSU to 155 total yards on offense.
Buffaloes Able To Make Field Goals In Second Half, Aztecs Do Not
After the teams traded three-and-outs to start the second half, the Buffs had their third 10+-play drive of the game. This time, they would only manage a field goal, however. With not having many days to prepare for the Aztecs, being able to control time of possession was huge for the Buffaloes. They let the game be in their hands. The Buffaloes played like the favorites, even though San Diego State was able to stay in it.
The only real chance the Aztecs had in the second half was due to an error by the Buffsf. Senior linebacker Akil Jones was flagged for roughing the passer, and San Diego State was in field goal range early in the fourth quarter. However, sophomore Mark Perry came up with a huge block of a 50-yard field goal by Aztec kicker Matt Araiza.
Following the field goal miss, the Buffaloes took the ball 44 yards in nine plays. Jarek Broussard’s 26-yard run on this drive was a huge step towards winning the game. Evan Price’s 41-yard field goal gave the Buffaloes the two-possession lead at 20-10.
This lead was plenty for a defense who did not allow SDSU to score a touchdown all game. Colorado’s defense did not break as they forced SDSU into another field goal attempt. This time, Matt Araiza’s 44-yard kick went wide right.
The offense struggled to keep the football the rest of the game, but the defense stepped up. They forced SDSU to turn the football over on downs. On the last Aztec drive, the defense finally forced a turnover as junior safety Curtis Appleton II picked off SDSU quarterback Jordan Brookshire. The Buffaloes added another game into the win column as they have started out 3-0.
2020 Colorado Buffaloes Attain Bowl Eligibility
Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker beat a top-10 team on Saturday in the Spartans’ victory against Northwestern. He did not accomplish that feat in Boulder. Additionally, Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell has officially led the Buffs to bowl eligibility in his first year on the job. Tucker was unable to accomplish that feat during his time in Boulder in 2019.
Colorado Buffaloes fans should be ecstatic that despite the challenges that Dorrell has faced in 2020, he was able to lead this team to bowl eligibility. The Buffaloes still have plenty of work to do, and Dorrell talked about that in his postgame comments. In his introductory press conference in March, Dorrell talked about how he was going to be in Boulder “for the long haul”. He is taking that approach to the season also. There is still work to be done.
A Word on Targeting in College Football
Early in the game, there was a targeting call on Buffaloes cornerback Mekhi Blackmon that could have resulted in him being ejected from the game. Luckily, the referees overturned the call. However, the fact that a player can be ejected after their first unnecessary roughness hit is ridiculous. These plays are usually “bang-bang” or accidental. College players have limited opportunities to play in a college football game. It is ridiculous to punish them after they commit one accidental hit. The fact that Blackmon could have been ejected for a play where he was not leading with his head deliberately is very frustrating. It takes away from the game. The NCAA needs to do something about this rule because it is unfair to the players. It makes sense to eject players for repeated offenses, but they only get so many opportunities to put on a college uniform.
At 3-0, the Colorado Buffaloes take on the 0-3 Arizona Wildcats next week in Tucson in their fourth game of 2020. Colorado should be favored in this game. It is important for the Buffaloes to play a sound game and take care of business in a game they should win. They have a legitimate shot at making the Pac-12 championship game if they beat Arizona and Utah. Nonetheless, Buffaloes fans should be in a celebratory mood that the team has achieved bowl eligibility,