Did you hear that sound yesterday afternoon at INVESCO Field? It was the collective sigh of relief released by Colorado Buffalo fans, who were in a festive move after the Buffs handily defeated the Colorado State Rams 24-3.
Behind the steady play of quarterback Tyler Hansen who passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and a solid defensive effort, CU opened up the season with a much needed win. Controlling both sides of the ball, CSU never threatened to make the game close.
Colorado jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Hansen hit Travon Patterson for an 18 yard touchdown pass. The transfer from USC demonstrated his breakaway speed on the play, which bodes well for stretching out opposing defenses during the season. One of the beneficiaries of having speed on the outside is wide receiver Scotty McKnight who scored on a 27 yard toss from Hansen in the second quarter. McKnight finished with six catches for 78 yards and became the career pass catching leader in CU history surpassing Michael Westbrook. Wide receiver Toney Clemons added three catches for 25 yards.
Rodney Stewart led the CU rushing attack with 68 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Buffs totaled 115 yards on the ground. Colorado’s offensive line gave him room to run and provided enough protection for Hansen to lead the Buffs down the field. When the protection broke down, Hansen rolled out or ran to relieve the pressure. One of those runs was a 1 yarder in the third quarter, which gave CU a 24-0 lead. Aric Goodman added a 28 yard field goal in the second quarter for the other Buff points.
CU’s defense gave CSU quarterback Pete Thomas and the Rams offense fits all day. One of the goals of the CU defensive scheme was to make the freshman Thomas beat them through the air. With the Rams running game virtually non existent, CSU had to throw more than they wanted. The Buffs were able to tee off at the line, which forced Thomas to throw three interceptions and culminated in three sacks as well. The Buffs held the Rams to 49 yards on 25 carries. The Rams kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter for their only points when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
It was a must win game for CU and Coach Hawkins and they were up to the challenge. While it was not a flawless effort, it was a marked improvement from last year’s team. One of the most notable differences was the overall team speed, especially on offense. Plus, they demonstrated balance on offense and an aggressive defense that made plays and forced turnovers. They will need this and more if they are going to compete with California next week and the daunting Big 12 schedule.
It is too early to say that they will finish with a winning record, but the win was a step in the right direction. The Buffs played with purpose and confidence. Let’s hope it continues rather than being an aberration.
About the Author
Written by Brian O'Connor
Graduated from the University of Colorado in 1993 and have been a big fan of the Buffs since the halcyon days of Coach McCartney, Big 8 titles and a National Championship. While I know I'll get nostalgic when the day arrives, I'm hoping that a change of scenery to the PAC 10 will lead us back to the glory days. Until then, I want to see some Buff pride in what will probably be our last year in the Big 12. Beat Nebraska.