Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sloppy Colorado holds off equally bad Stanford 10-5

Almost to a player, Colorado welcomed the idea of becoming bowl eligible for the first time in a decade with a collective shrug of the shoulders and a yawn.
Outside of a brief celebration in the northwest corner end zone at Stanford Stadium and an acknowledgement later in the locker room, the Buffaloes didn't make much of their 10-5 win over the Cardinal other than it was another step toward their ultimate goal of winning the Pac-12 championship.
That's exactly how coach Mike MacIntyre expected and wanted his team to react, no matter the historical implications.
"We have one goal, and that's Pac-12 champions," said running back Phillip Lindsay after rushing for 131 yards before leaving midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury. "Winning six games, that's cool, it's cute. But we have to continue to move on. We have bigger things to worry about."
That Colorado is even in the discussion for the Pac-12 championship seems far-fetched after the Buffaloes won only one conference game in 2015.
MacIntyre isn't too surprised, though, and told his team in the offseason he believed they would be in the running. At a meeting with his players in May, McIntyre discovered the Buffaloes felt the same way.
"We gelled at that time," MacIntyre said. "We were either going to get it done or we weren't. And they got it done."
Chris Graham kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2:13 remaining following two earlier misses, propelling the Buffaloes to their first win over the Cardinal since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
Colorado (6-2, 4-1) went into the day tied with Utah for first place in the South division and inched one step closer toward a possible berth in the conference title game despite an off day by the offense.
The Buffaloes missed three field goals and had a touchdown called back by a pass interference penalty but held the Cardinal to three points while winning for the fourth time in five games. Quarterback Sefo Liufaupassed for 135 yards with one touchdown despite being sacked six times.
Liufau, one of three seniors starting on offense for Colorado, said the Buffaloes becoming bowl eligible was a reward to the team's older players who stuck it out through the lean years.
"No one left, no one from my class quit," Liufau said. "It's a great feeling. We worked so hard. To see it all come to fruition is a great feeling. I'll remember this season for the rest of my life no matter how it ends."
Stanford (4-3, 2-3) failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season despite getting running backChristian McCaffrey back in the lineup. McCaffrey, a 2015 Heisman Trophy finalist, was had 92 yards on 21 carries but was held in check most of the afternoon by Colorado's opportunistic defense.
The Buffaloes intercepted Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns three times, twice on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to stall the Cardinal's comeback hopes.
At one point late in the first half the home crowd booed Stanford when it ran the ball on a 2nd-and-26 play.
"If you could see me on TV, I might have been the one booing," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "It was not good enough.
THE TAKEAWAY
COLORADO: It wasn't pretty any stretch of the imagination but coach Mike MacIntyre will take the Buffaloes first win against the Cardinal since 1990. Colorado, which has a bye this week, continues to control its own destiny and has a Nov. 26 showdown with Utah looming that could decide which team goes to the Pac-12 title game.
STANFORD: The Cardinal have lost three of four and are in danger of missing out on the postseason. Losing to a beefed-up Colorado team shouldn't hurt too much but this was a game Stanford needed to get back on track. Instead, it's another loss and another week of pondering what went wrong. "Offensively we've got to score more than three points . it's as simple as that," Shaw said. "There were a lot of things that we have to do better and some things that we have to look into tweaking."
POLL IMPLICATIONS
Colorado is likely to move back into the Top 25 after being knocked out of the rankings earlier this season following its loss to USC.
UP NEXT
COLORADO: The Buffaloes host UCLA on Nov. 3 and have put up nearly 1,100 yards of offense combined in the last two meetings with the Bruins but lost both times.
STANFORD: The Cardinal play at Arizona next Saturday and have won four straight and nine of the last 11 games against the Wildcats.

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