Colorado football: undefeated season ruined by Utah upset

Colorado football

Unfortunately for No. 21 Colorado football, its undefeated Cinderella season will not come to fruition as the Buffs were upset by the Utah Utes in a 38-21 loss in Boulder. The loss to Utah sealed the Pac-12 South division title for No. 15 USC and knocked Colorado football out of the Pac-12 title game. The Utes have won the last four games against Colorado football.

The game was prime for the taking after halftime for Colorado, but the Buffs just couldn’t get it going. A one-play scoring drive to start the third quarter ended up being the final points scored by the Buffs as Utah ran off 28 unanswered points to pull off the upset.

CU defense couldn’t recover from Landman injury

The game took a complete 180 after Butkus Award Nominee linebacker Nate Landman suffered a non-contact ankle injury late in the second quarter. Landman went down clutching his ankle while chasing down the ball carrier and was clearly in a lot of pain while being helped to the sideline. He did return to the sideline in the second half on a scooter with a boot on his left ankle but has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Prior to Landman’s injury, the Colorado defense allowed only 47 rushing yards in the first half but gave up 145 yards on the ground after halftime. Utah’s true freshman running back Ty Jordan single-handedly scorched the Buffs defense to the tune of 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Turnovers killed the offense

Self-inflicted wounds cost the Buffs in this one dearly. The Utes only turned the ball over once and were never called for a penalty the entire game. On the flip side, the Buffs turned the ball over three times and got flagged four times for 35 yards.

While trying to simply run the clock out, a Jarek Broussard fumble with 13 seconds left allowed Utah to get three free points right before halftime. The Buffs would commit their third turnover of the game on a Noyer interception, which helped propel the Utah comeback.

“A lot of our issues were self-inflicted,” Dorrell said. “You can’t turn it over.”

Utes defense rose to the occasion

The red hot Colorado offense ran straight into a brick wall in the form of the Utes defense. It was a battle between the top run offense versus the best run defense in the conference, and the Utes rose to the occasion.

After coming off of a 301-yard performance against Arizona, Broussard was held to under 100 yards for the first time this season. The Utah dominance nearly kept Colorado under 100 total yards rushing.

Quarterback Sam Noyer was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Noyer really flexed his arm by completing numerous deep balls, and he threw an incredible 21-yard touchdown to Maurice Bell in a tight window. However, after halftime, Noyer was held under 100 yards passing and missed a couple of plays due to a shoulder injury.

“Offensively, it wasn’t quite the performance we were looking for,” Dorrell said. “They (Utah) did what it takes to win the game.”

Brenden Rice, Jerry Rice’s son, makes CU history

Colorado true freshman receiver Brenden Rice, son of hall of fame NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice, scored a pair of historic touchdowns for CU, becoming the first Colorado football player to score a receiving and punt-return touchdown since Walter Stanley in 1981. Stanley’s son, Dimitri, helped throw key blocks on both of Rice’s touchdowns.

Rice’s first touchdown came when he showed off some insane speed going untouched for an 81-yard punt return touchdown late in the second quarter. He capped off his big performance by scoring CU’s final points on a 61-yard house call on the first play of the second half.

No excuses from Dorrell

Colorado football head coach Karl Dorrell, who suffered his first loss under the helm at CU, made no excuses for the disappointing loss.

“A lot of issues were culprits, particularly not taking care of the ball offensively,” Dorrell said. “Defensively, there were some spurts of really good defensive play and good series, but for the most part, they had some issues too. We had some missed tackles, they got some runs out on us, they threw a few passes on us, so they were more efficient offensively than we were. They took care of the football, and they did what it took to win the game.”

What’s next?

For the seventh week of the shortened 2020 season, the Pac-12 conference has paired Colorado football with the Oregon Ducks for a Saturday, Dec. 19 matchup. The game will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and will be televised on FOX Sports 1 at 9 p.m. ET.

It was announced late Saturday on the Pac-12 Network that if COVID-19-issues arise with either team playing in the Pac-12 Championship, Colorado would replace USC and Oregon would replace Washington. Should both USC and Washington have issues, the championship game would then default to Colorado football versus Oregon. The conference is placing all four teams at the same site for this reason.

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