Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 7

Khalil-Tate-Arizona-Colorado-2019

On October 7, 2017, the college football world found another star in the making. His name was Khalil Tate, and he embarrassed the Colorado Buffaloes‘ defense with 243 passing yards, 237 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns in a 45-42 victory.

Then, one year later in Tuscon, Tate lit up the Buffaloes defense for 350 yards in a 42-34 victory.

And while the Buffaloes hoped the third time against Khalil Tate would be the charm, Tate returned to Folsom Field this past weekend and led the Wildcats to another victory over Colorado.

While Tate’s performance drew eerie similarities to past years, there was one overriding difference from previous Arizona vs. Colorado games: the coaches.

Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre were the coaches, but even with Kevin Sumlin at the helm for Arizona and Mel Tucker leading the Buffs, Tate still posted a career-high passing performance, with 404 yards through the air, leaving the Buffaloes at a precarious position of 3-2 with a road trip to Oregon awaiting the Buffaloes in college football Week 7.

Setting the Table For 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 7

The Buffaloes, coming out of their bye week, had to deal without star wide receiver Laviska Shenault and standout linebacker Mustafa Johnson for this tilt. Shenault is dealing with a core muscle injury, and Johnson has a high-ankle sprain.

Meanwhile, the Buffaloes had first place in the Pac-12 South within their sights. Only they and Arizona remained undefeated in the division.

And at first, things looked good. The offense showed they wanted to take control of the division, opening the game with a 13-play drive that saw them take an early 3-0 lead.

Defensively, despite Johnson’s absence the Buffaloes managed to contain Khalil Tate on Arizona’s first drive. After two first downs, Tate missed three consecutive passes as the Buffaloes forced Arizona to punt. First test: pass.

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However, the Buffaloes could not build upon their first drive on defense, and Khalil Tate started his aerial assault on the Buffaloes defense. The Colorado defense responded well enough to keep the game within striking distance, but the offense could not reciprocate the defense’s efforts.

Arizona’s defense came to show they would not be pushed around by the Buffaloes either. This was in stark contrast to the two previous matchups of these teams. The defenses finally made their presence felt.

The Buffaloes also weren’t helping themselves, as they played undisciplined football in the first half. They had numerous penalties that set the team back, and then Daniel Arias dropped a sure touchdown that would’ve given the Buffaloes a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. Instead, the drive ended in a punt. Seven points, gone by the wayside.

Colorado Buffaloes

The referees did not do the Buffaloes any favors either. They took away a defensive fumble returned for a touchdown for the Buffaloes with 2:28 left due to forward progress being stopped.

However, the Buffaloes would get their turnover later in the drive as Mikial Onu came up with yet another clutch defensive play, picking off Khalil Tate. On the next play, Jay Johnson had another trick up his sleeve, as Steven Montez pitched the ball to Jaren Mangham, who then pitched it to wide receiver K.D. Nixon. Nixon threw a dime to fellow wideout Dimitri Stanley for a touchdown to give the Buffs the lead. This set off the end-of-the-half fireworks.

Arizona would take the lead right back, but 1:40 would be plenty of time for the Buffaloes to strike as well. Montez led the Buffaloes right down the field, and found Brady Russell on a scramble-drill play with three seconds left to give the Buffaloes the 20-14 lead.

However, first-half excitement was not over. Arizona looked to have had a chance at retaking the lead into halftime, as they nearly returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Luckily for the Buffaloes, Arizona returner Jamarye Joiner stepped out of bounds before he raced down the sideline into the endzone. Another potential crisis averted.

A Doomed Second Half

In the second half the Buffaloes did not play well with the lead. Building off their quick-strike to end the first half, the Wildcats went out and scored 1:49 into the second half to go up 21-20.

Colorado, meanwhile, struggled to gain any traction on their first two second half drives, but Montez found Tony Brown yet again for a 49-yard gain on their third drive.

After that, it was all Touchdown Tony Brown. Given the monicker by his teammates and fans alike, Brown scored a touchdown on the ground to give the Buffaloes a 27-21 lead. The touchdown continued his streak of important plays for this season, and he came through in the clutch yet again.

The defense could not hold onto the lead yet again, however, as it only took the Wildcats 1:29 to score again to take a 28-27 lead.

With all the back-and-forth throughout the game, only one question remained: could the Buffaloes win yet another close four-quarter game?

The Buffaloes drove into the red zone early in the fourth quarter and had a first-and-goal from the Arizona two-yard line. However, they would lose one yard in total on the next three plays and were forced to settle for a field goal. They took a 30-28 lead.

Arizona then scored a touchdown on the next possession and burned clock, doing so for the first time all game. Their drive took a bit over seven minutes, but it left the Buffaloes with about six minutes.

The Buffaloes were able to have somewhat long drives, in terms of time, to tie games with Nebraska and Air Force earlier in the season, and would have a chance to do the same against Arizona. However, once they got into Arizona territory the Wildcats defense stood pat and did not let the Buffaloes move any further into scoring range.

On the deciding fourth down with 2:26 remaining, Montez overthrew wide receiver Dimitri Stanley, giving the Wildcats the ball back with a five point lead.

The Buffaloes had all three timeouts and would utilize them all, but the Wildcats were able to convert two first downs and end the game. Their’ chance at claiming first place in the Pac-12 south was gone.

Looking Ahead During 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 7

The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes have been inconsistent and unpredictable. All three phases will play well at certain points of the game, but they had trouble feeding off each other against Arizona.

Colorado also struggled with discipline, as they were penalized eight times for 85 yards, compared to the lone 5-yard penalty for Arizona.

If they have any hope of pulling off a major road upset in Eugene in College Football Week 7, Colorado will have to put together good offensive and defensive series that compliment each other.

Oregon has a coveted NFL quarterback in Justin Herbert and arguably the best defense in the Pac-12, and the Buffaloes will not be picked by many to win the game. However, the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes have played up to their competition in all of their games, and it might not be a total shock if they are able to keep the game close. They will have their shot this Friday, but they will have to bring an improved, cohesive unit to Eugene to compete with the cream of the crop in the Pac-12.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 6

Tony-Brown-Colorado-Nebraska-2019

The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes entered their bye week 3-1 and with plenty of optimism. As they now shift back towards game preparation, Colorado and their fans are hopeful about what is in store for the Mel Tucker era. The new head coach’s relentless attitude has helped the Buffaloes compete until the very end in all of their games while instilling confidence into the players. 

Tucker has accomplished feats previous coaches did not. He beat a ranked opponent on the road for the first time in 30 games, and in that same victory left Sun Devil Stadium with Colorado victorious for the first time in six tries.

But in all the optimism there have been twists and turns. Inconsistencies on offense have led to close nail-biters and thoughts of something more. Still, for all the inconsistencies the Buffaloes have flashed, the team has remained consistent in one aspect: making sure the games are competitive. Regardless of who the Buffaloes have played, all the games have been within one score at some point in the fourth quarter. The Buffaloes were able to prevail in three of these four games, but they may not have been the combination of wins many who follow the program were expecting to see.

The Buffaloes were expected to beat Colorado State, and they did 52-31. 

Many thought Nebraska was going to be a close game, and the Huskers were slightly favored. Colorado was able to push through adversity and make up a 17-point deficit to win in overtime. 

However, the next week, the Air Force Falcons shocked everyone in Boulder and gave the Buffaloes a permanent stain on their season, defeating them 30-23 in another overtime game. 

The Buffaloes then went the unexpected route and beat a ranked Arizona State team on the road in their Pac-12 opener. Unpredictability has been this team’s calling card.

Take the Nebraska game. The Buffaloes looked like a team with no sense of identity for the first 40 minutes, as they were down 17-0 until getting their first score late in the third quarter. Then suddenly, the script changed. The Buffaloes were a team on a mission and though it took them a while to warm up, they made a 180-degree turn and became one of the best teams in the country for 20-plus minutes.


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2019 Colorado Buffaloes Strengths

Conditioning: Mel Tucker has stressed being the best-conditioned team. The Buffaloes have been able to stay in games late and improved as games have progressed. The players are more energized as the games go on, and their conditioning helped in comebacks against Nebraska and Air Force.

Wide Receivers: The wide receivers group, coached by Darrin Chiaverini, has been a huge strength of the team. With Laviska Shenault facing double teams and being injured in the Arizona State game, the other wide receivers, namely Tony Brown, were able to pick up the slack. Known as “Touchdown Tony Brown” in high school, Brown is trying to reclaim that nickname in his senior year.

2019 Colorado Buffaloes Weaknesses

Inconsistency on offense, particularly the offensive line and Montez: The offense has looked extremely choppy at points this season. There has not been a consistent flow to the offense, and as a result, they’ve had various versions of the offense on display through the first four weeks.

Against Colorado State, it looked like the offense was figuring out how to deal with the double teams Laviska Shenault was receiving. Against Nebraska, it took nearly three quarters to pick up steam. 

The offensive line’s struggles were magnified against Air Force, as Montez was struggling in the pocket, throwing off his back foot on numerous occasions. With an offense that features three upperclassmen in Arlington Hambright, Kary Kutsch, and Tim Lynott, and a senior quarterback in Montez, it is frustrating when the chemistry has been off for one reason or another this season.

Secondary giving up big plays: The Buffaloes struggled to contain big plays in the opening game of the season against Colorado State, but the defense has improved each week. They have a bend-but-don’t-break attitude and turnovers have been their calling card. Cornerback Delrick Abrams has struggled on numerous occasions, as opposing receivers have had decent games against him. 

The defense has given up 31, 31, 30, and 31 points in their games this season, and secondary play will have to improve before the Buffaloes will be able to hold opponents under 30 points. 

Offensive MVP: WR Tony Brown

Stats: 19 Receptions, 301 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

It may surprise some that Laviska Shenault is not the offensive MVP of the Buffaloes right now. Some may point to the fact that he has been underutilized by offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, and an undisclosed injury prevented him from being fully utilized against ASU. Because of this Tony Brown has benefited. He has come in the clutch for the Buffaloes’ offense on numerous occasions this season, including catching two crucial fourth-quarter touchdowns. The first of these crucial touchdowns came trailing Nebraska in the final minute of the game when the Buffs were down 31-24. He was able to catch the ball in the end zone and send Folsom Field into a frenzy. 

His second fourth-quarter touchdown came two weeks later in the Arizona State game to give the Buffs a 31-24 lead. This play was huge because it came on a 2nd-and-goal from the ASU 20-yard line. Most teams would have been assured of a field goal on this drive, but this would not be the case as Brown went up over a defender to catch the clutch touchdown.

Defensive MVP: S Mikial Onu

Stats: 27 Tackles, 3 Interceptions, and 2 Forced Fumbles

Onu, a graduate transfer from SMU, has been the main tone-setter on defense. The defense’s calling card has been the turnover this season, and Onu is the driving force behind that. He was the first to don the “turnover robe” in the CSU game when he came up with the first of his two interceptions in that game. He also had an interception and a forced fumble in the Air Force game. Those two turnovers were arguably the only reasons the Buffaloes were even in that game in the fourth quarter. Onu is second on the team in tackles, and has had a profound impact on the successes of the Buffaloes defense so far this season.  

Most surprising player: RB Jaren Mangham

Mangham, a freshman, has had some timely runs for the Buffaloes this season and has shown his physicality that he brings to the table at 6-2 and 215 lbs. He had two red zone touchdowns in the Nebraska game, which were a contributing factor to the Buffs being able to come back and win those games. He might not get as many carries as Alex Fontenot, but he is going to get noticed more if he continues to be a physical presence running the football.

2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 6

There are many positives to take away from the first third of the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season. These will be crucial moving forward, as Colorado faces six straight Pac-12 opponents before another bye week on November 16. 

To succeed will require flipping the script from last season, as the Buffaloes failed to win a game after beating Arizona State in 2018. This task begins against Arizona, a team that will challenge Colorado.

The Wildcats may be without Khalil Tate, who has given the Buffs fits in the past. However, Arizona beat UCLA with backup quarterback Grant Gunnell in College Football Week 5. With the parity in the Pac-12 on great display this season, Brown, Onu, and the rest of the Buffaloes cast need to come prepared as they try to beat the Wildcats at Folsom Field for the first time since 2011.  

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 5

Relentless. This is the mantra Mel Tucker has used when he has described what he wants the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes to become in 2019. And the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 5 appears to be just that, with a statement win coming in week 4.

The term relentless has become the social media hashtag used when the team wants to hype their fans up on social media, including Twitter. However, the Buffaloes have not been a relentless force in their eight-plus seasons in the Pac-12 minus their 2016 season. That changed, however, with Colorado’s win over the Arizona State Sun Devils. The 34-31 victory was their first road win against an AP Top 25 team in their last 30 tries.

Going Against History in Colorado vs. Arizona State

In the past, Sun Devil Football Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Buffaloes. They were 0-5 all-time at Sun Devil Stadium entering play Saturday, with a 0-4 mark in that stadium since they joined the Pac-12. They had been outscored 224-94 in those five games, with an average losing margin in those games was 30 points. 

The Buffaloes were looked at as a major underdog going into their first “Pac-12 After Dark” tilt of the season, as they lost to Air Force in College Football Week 3 and Arizona State pulled off a major road upset of their own against then-ranked Michigan State. However, the Buffs would set the tone early as the offense played consistently right from the get go, which was a pleasant change from the first three games of the season.

However, the injury bug bit bad for the Buffs. First off, linebacker Mustafa Johnson injured his left leg on Arizona State’s first offensive drive. On top of that, cornerback Delrick Abrams Jr. would go out in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. It was a crushing blow for the defense, as they looked like they were on damage control in the first half, giving up 21 points. Star receiver Laviska Shenault went out in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury, and the Buffaloes’ offense could have let the pressure of not having their top wide receiver get to them.

Instead, senior Tony Brown picked up the slack in a huge way. He caught the first two of his three touchdown receptions in the first half, and Montez looked far more settled than he did against Air Force. The Buffs took a 24-21 lead into the locker room. 

Despite the injuries, the Buffaloes, on first impression, proved they could play with their opponents in the Pac-12 on the road this season, after last season where they went 0-4 on the road against Pac-12 competition.

A Wild Second Half

The game tightened up defensively in the second half, as the Buffaloes caught some breaks with overthrows and drops by the ASU offense. Tony Brown scored his third touchdown of the game late in the third quarter to give the Buffaloes a 31-24 lead.

The Buffaloes showed up in Tempe to play, and had the opportunity to get rid of numerous dubious streaks that were a bad look for the program. They had never won at Sun Devil Football Stadium and had a 29-game road losing streak to ranked opponents. However, the Buffaloes were going to be relentless in their quest to end these bad streaks.

One of the definitions of the word “relentless” is “harsh or inflexible”. The Buffaloes were out to prove that there would be a different feel to the Mel Tucker era regardless of the first impression that was given via the first three games. They came through in the clutch.

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The Tense Fourth Quarter

Arizona State tied the game early in the fourth quarter, and the Buffs were forced to punt on the subsequent possession. It felt like it was going to be the same old “Buffs keep it competitive but lose” storyline that dominated the majority of the Mike MacIntyre era in Boulder. Instead, safety Derrion Rakestraw was able to pick off Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels with just over ten minutes remaining in the game. The Buffaloes were able to bend but not break on defense.

On offense, the Buffaloes did enough to give the defense an opportunity to win the game, as they drove into field goal range and secured a three-point lead. The defense impressed on the next possession, as Arizona State gained negative-6 yards on four plays and gave the Buffs the ball back. 

The Buffaloes hired Mel Tucker in part because of his defensive prowess as the Georgia defensive coordinator from 2016-2018. Mel Tucker’s signature was written all over what was Arizona State’s offensive possession, as they were finally able to get to Jayden Daniels and pressure the true freshman quarterback.

However, Tucker’s inexperience as head coach came out near the end of the game, as the offense tried to rush a play call on a 4th and 3. Wide receiver K.D. Nixon took the direct snap and was smothered by the ASU defense. It was a near-disaster for the Buffs, but they were bailed out by a delay of game penalty that blew the play dead. The Buffs decided to kick the field goal to lengthen their lead to six points, but a roughing the holder penalty against ASU gave the Buffs a first down, assuring victory. Crisis averted.

2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 5 Preview

This relentless winning effort should restore the majority of the enthusiasm felt by the CU Boulder community after the Nebraska win. The loss to Air Force will be a stain on the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season, but the team is going into their bye week with a 3-1 record that they should be proud of. They were able to beat two rivals in CSU and Nebraska and shed one of the more embarrassing road losing streaks to Top 25 teams. The Mel Tucker era is beginning to take shape, and it looks like the restoration effort of Colorado Buffaloes Football as a dominant force in college football may be yielding results. 

Next up, the Buffaloes will play Arizona on October 5. They have struggled against Arizona star quarterback Khalil Tate each of the past two seasons, but Mel Tucker has devised creative gameplans as a coordinator to stop players like Tate in the SEC. Arizona has to play UCLA next week, so the Buffaloes will also have an extra week to prepare for the Wildcats. This should help them, as fans and players alike will be rejuvenated in their enthusiasm about the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season. The win over Arizona State meant a lot for the early stages of the Tucker era in Boulder, and there is hope that it was the first of many huge road wins that will be experienced now into the future.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 4

Air Force Falcons Colorado Buffaloes 2019

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.

Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 3

Nebraska Colorado Football 2019

An instant classic in the saga of Nebraska vs. Colorado. That is what happened at Folsom Field when the Cornhuskers invaded Boulder on Saturday. But this classic game, a resounding win for the Colorado Buffaloes and first-year head coach Mel Tucker, did not root its atmosphere in 2019 alone. 

A college football rivalry dating back to 1898, the Colorado-Nebraska rivalry is one college football fans had to deal without for the early part of this decade. Renewed in 2018, the matchup still proves to be one of college football’s best. 

Last year, legendary Colorado Buffaloes football coach Bill McCartney stated his belief that the whole state of Colorado could get behind the effort of beating their old Big 12 rivals. The Buffaloes made the state do just that.

Down 28-27 with just over one minute left, quarterback Steven Montez hit Laviska Shenault in the right corner of the end zone. It was the decisive touchdown in a 33-28 win. Then-head coach Mike MacIntyre hugged his son Jaye as Boulder filled with Euphoria. Colorado was back, or so many thought.

But the remainder of 2018 would not prove so kind. After a 5-0 start to the season, the Buffaloes failed to win another game. The result led to MacIntyre being let go and another new era in Colorado football history.

Come back every Tuesday for a new installment of Pac-12 Football Seasons: 2019 Colorado Buffaloes

Setting the Table for 2019 Colorado Buffaloes Week 3

2019, meanwhile, brings with it positive change and expectations that Colorado is ready to make a national statement. 

After dispatching Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, the Buffaloes turned attention to a sea of red. Nebraska, with revenge on their mind, would visit Boulder in college football week two. The Huskers had unfinished business, but the Buffaloes had something to prove.

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Drowning Out the Red

Drowning out the red. That was the goal for the Buffaloes as the Huskers invaded Boulder. It looked like a giant pool of red blood that had fissured the usual black and gold colors seen in Folsom Field’s stands. The Buffs’ first drive took up about half of the first quarter, but the offense came out choppy for the second consecutive week, as the team gained 33 yards on 12 plays and was forced to punt. Not exactly the remedy the Buffs were looking for to silence the red.

Nebraska, meanwhile, showed precision and came out swinging. They had touchdown drives of 96 and 95 yards in the first half, igniting their fans. Home chants were infected by chants of “Go Big Red”. 

The Buffs looked flustered as they entered the halftime locker room down 17-0. This was much their own doing. In fact, Colorado did about everything wrong on offense in the first half. It seemed like the team had no identity. The choppiness they showed in the CSU game was forwarded into the first half against Nebraska.

The Comeback

Fortunately, the Buffaloes turned it around.

It began with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that gave the Buffs their first score with 1:26 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Question being, would they have enough time to heal the wound of a 17-point deficit to Big Red?

Eventually, yes.

Getting the ball back early in the fourth quarter, Colorado and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson needed to silence the Nebraska crowd and strike fast. They did so by getting creative. 

Positioned nearly an entire field length away from their end zone, Colorado drew up its most daring play in years: the flea-flicker. Quarterback Steven Montez took the pitch back from running back Alex Fontenot and stood in the end zone with Nebraska rushers pursuing him. He completed the pass to K.D. Nixon, who ran into the end zone to cut the Nebraska lead to 17-14. Words cannot do this play justice. 

With the stadium rocking and silencing the Nebraska faithful, the Huskers struck back with a quick TD to regain a 10-point lead.

The Buffs would not lie down, as those watching the game got a sudden sense this would be one for the history books. Classic Nebraska vs. Colorado. 

Sensing their shot and riding a wave of second-half momentum, Colorado pulled within three on a lightning-fast 5 play, 75 yards touchdown drive. Folsom Field thundered, and with the help of a timely fumble by Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, the stadium got louder, especially once the Buffaloes kicked a field goal to tie the game with 8:30 remaining. 

An Ending to Remember

But Nebraska proved unrelenting in their effort to make sure the red took over Boulder. Shaking off his mistake, Martinez marched the Huskers down the field and muscled in for a touchdown on 4th-and-1 to give them a 31-24 lead. 

With time beginning to wind down, Colorado knew it needed to regain momentum. Unfortunately, they would not get the chance they were hoping for, as Shenault fumbled the kickoff return around midfield, giving the Huskers a prime opportunity to eat the clock.

But it was not Nebraska’s day. The glory was to be had by Colorado. 

With Folsom Field thundering, the Buffaloes stuffed Nebraska and got the ball back with 3:33 remaining. 

On a defining drive, Montez converted a 4th-and-1 at midfield to keep the Buffs afloat. Then, with 46 seconds left to play, he connected with Tony Brown on a 26-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. The game headed to overtime, where the Buffaloes would finally overtake the red.

Overtime

Kicking a field goal on their first offensive possession of overtime, Colorado turned to its defense. Fortunately for the Buffaloes, new head coach Mel Tucker knows a thing or two about game-changing defenses. 

Needing a field goal to tie and a touchdown to win, Nebraska was stuffed by Colorado. The end result of their first and only offensive possession in overtime? A four-play, negative six-yard drive that ended with a missed field goal. Wide right. 

As the field goal missed, it was the Black and Gold that poured onto the field. This was what Colorado needed to put themselves on the college football map.

These type of wins catapult programs into the national spotlight, and it was the exact type of win that coach Mel Tucker needed. His team has taken on his personality of a never-give-in attitude. They did not surrender to a dangerous Nebraska team, which along with their fans, attempted to invade Folsom Field.

Next Up: Air Force

CU will welcome another team in close proximity to them next week in the Air Force Falcons. The team will be coming off of the high of beating the Huskers, but should not overlook the challenge that the Falcons will present. 

Air Force is known for running the option, and it will be important for the Buffs to respect their opponent, who is from what most would say an inferior conference. However, the Pac-12 and Mountain West have always had a “big brother little brother” rivalry, and it is important that the Buffaloes once again show which football team rules the land in Colorado, as they did when they beat Colorado State two weeks ago. 

But while the team focuses on the upcoming game, there is no doubting the importance of beating Nebraska. Triumphant two years straight in one of college football’s best rivalries, Colorado has made its statement. The red was drowned out and the Black and Gold has risen. It’s time for the next chapter in Colorado football.