Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 4

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 4

The Colorado Buffaloes were riding high after their epic victory over Nebraska. It was time for the Mel Tucker era to take shape. The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 4 looked like it would be one with the team entering Pac-12 play undefeated.

However, what was a big step forward was countered by the Air Force Falcons, who defeated the Buffaloes 30-23 in overtime. It was a tough loss for Colorado, but one they can — and must — recover from.

Situated just 86.2 miles from each other, the 2019 Air Force vs. Colorado matchup was the first between the two Colorado schools since 1974. And with the Buffaloes having already dispatched in-state Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, Saturday’s game against Air Force was a chance to secure state supremacy. But instead of locking Colorado down and moving to a 3-0 start, Colorado looked impressive in bursts but wasn’t consistent enough to hold off the upset. 

For Colorado, the game started in positive fashion. On the first drive of the game, Colorado took the ball for an 11-play, 75 yard drive that ended with quarterback Steven Montez connecting with Laviska Shenault to give the Buffs a quick 7-0 lead. Then, on Air Force’s third offensive play, Colorado safety Aaron Maddox forced Air Force running back Taven Birdow to fumble and linebacker Davion Taylor recovered. The Buffs’ defense, under coordinator Tyson Summers, found their calling card for the third straight week and forced yet another timely turnover.

But after the Buffs cashed the turnover in for three points, it was Air Force laying claim as the best team in the state of Colorado. Three straight touchdown drives gave the Falcons a 20-10 lead as Air Force was winning the battle in the trenches and confusing the Buffaloes with their triple option offense.

Colorado’s offense, meanwhile, cooled-off after its opening scores. The offensive line had trouble protecting Steven Montez and the Buffaloes couldn’t get things going on the ground. The two together led to another wildly inconsistent game from the redshirt senior.

The stadium was silent. The Buffs were having trouble supplying the fans with the energy necessary to cheer on their team and things looked grim. Fortunately, Colorado safety Mikial Onu created a spark with an interception off a deflection in the end zone in the final moments of the first half. Instead of Colorado facing a 17-point deficit for the second week in a row, the Buffaloes were down by 10.

The interception brought the fans who made it out to the early kickoff, that or the clock passing noon. Whatever the case, the early 11 a.m. start for the Buffaloes was not ideal for players and fans alike, especially in a game where Colorado was the clear favorite. Football is about momentum, and while Colorado supporters showed up and were loud, the quick response by Air Force in the first half hushed the crowd. The caffeine had worn off. This isn’t an indictment against earlier kickoffs or Colorado supporters, because Buffaloes fans showed up.

Early kickoffs are a necessary evil that comes with program exposure and television deals. However, credit goes to the fans who stayed for the whole game and those that arrived late. Folsom Field filled up and was full until the final whistle. To the credit of Air Force fans, some were theirs. The service academy traveled well for a chance to watch this rare in-state rivalry, and they made themselves heard.

Colorado fans, meanwhile, began the second half with nervous notes countered by the confidence knowing the Buffaloes had come back from worse. Unfortunately the half did not start well, with Aaron Maddox leaving the game with an apparent leg injury after colliding with a misting machine on the Air Force sideline. This was a blow to the defense, but the unit regrouped and forced Air Force to finally punt for the first time in nine possessions. 

The Buffaloes couldn’t take advantage on offense. In their first two possessions of the second half they were forced to punt and Colorado relied on their defense to stifle Air Force while the offense figured it out. 

Holding the Falcons to three points in the second half, the Colorado’s defense gave the offense just enough time to mount a comeback. Down 23-10 in the 4th, the Buffaloes’s offense marched 75 yards to get within seven points with 6:09 remaining in the 4th quarter. However, the Buffs had another mishap as the extra point was blocked. 

Now down 23-16 with time winding down, the offense needed a clutch drive and delivered just that. On their final drive in regulation the Buffaloes converted three 3rd downs and tied the game with 28 seconds left on a play that saw Shenault take a snap from the wildcat formation and run it into the end zone. This time, the extra point converted. 

The rare meeting between Air Force and Colorado would be decided in overtime. It was the second overtime game in as many weeks for the Buffaloes, and Colorado took to defense first.

Unfortunately the momentum from an impressive second-half defensive showing did not carry into overtime. On the first play of OT, Falcons running back Kadin Remsberg took the ball to the house for a 25-yard touchdown that put all the pressure on Colorado’s offense to convert.

Touchdown or bust. 

After the Buffaloes converted their first third down of their first overtime drive on a 4-yard run by Shenault, the Air Force defense came up huge.

Putting pressure on Montez on his next three dropbacks, the Falcons’s defense prevented another Colorado comeback as Montez failed to connect with Shenault on 4th and 12.

Game over. 

2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 4 Preview

The new era of Colorado Football that some may have thought started after last week’s win looks eerily familiar to the previous one. The Buffaloes have consistently beat teams such as Colorado State, and won both matchups against Nebraska this year and last, but have floundered against inferior teams. Last season the Buffaloes lost in overtime to an in-conference opponent, Oregon State, that they should have beat. This season they have an overtime loss to Air Force, a non-conference opponent many thought they would handle.

But 2019 is a new year and only time will tell if it will be a repeat of 2018. There is a lot of football to play and the Buffaloes have plenty of opportunities to create a new identity. This starts next week against Arizona State. 

The Sun Devils are coming off an enormous victory over Michigan State and are trying to create a new identity themselves. Playing in Tempe will be no easy task for the Buffaloes. But with the way this team has found a way to compete in every game, so long as they show up they’ll have a shot.

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