DENVER | Season opening games are usually difficult to predict. That especially rings true of rivalry contests.
But Friday night, no one could have forecasted how the 2016 edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown would have played out between Colorado State and Colorado.
The Buffaloes, coming off a 4-9 campaign in 2015, coasted to a 44-7 beat down of rival Colorado State. The margin of victory was the largest in a Showdown since CU's 41-14 drubbing of the Rams in 2001.
Colorado scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, breezing down the field in methodical fashion. The Rams on the other hand had five consecutive three-and-outs and didn't record their first first down until the 10:41 mark of the second quarter.
The performance, CSU head coach Mike Bobo said, was an embarrassment.
“They (Colorado) were very well prepared, well coached, ready to play this game, and we were not,” Bobo told reporters after the game. “That starts with me. I didn't have this team ready to play. They were ready and they came out hot and had the momentum, and we were unable to do anything to slow it down.
“It's one of those things where it's embarrassing. It's what I told (the team). We embarrassed our name, and there's only one thing we can do. We've got to go back to work. We can talk about a lot of things and 'what ifs', but the bottom line is we got our tails whipped tonight.”
Bobo kept his starting quarterback a secret leading up to the game, but as many assumed, incumbent Nick Stevens received the starting nod. His performance, however, was one he'd probably like to forget.
The junior completed just 6 of 20 passes for 31 yards, which included two interceptions, zero touchdowns and a 23.0 quarterback rating.
Stevens said even though his performance left a lot to be desired, it won't shake his confidence moving forward.
“I just made some stupid decisions,” Stevens said. “I think a big part of it was it was hard to get the ball rolling a little bit. I think we prepared well but not good enough. I just need to have a better week in practice and make better decisions during the game.”
Rams backup quarterback Faton Bauta entered the game at different intervals to give the Rams a spark. He was slightly better than Stevens passing the ball, tossing CSU's only touchdown to wide receiver Marcus Wilson.
Bauta did create momentum via the run game out of the read option. A 24-yard scamper led to CSU's only touchdown.
However, Bobo was underwhelmed with the overall performance from his quarterbacks.
“We have to reassess the quarterback situation,” Bobo said. “We gave Bauta a series in the first half... We were not really executing anywhere, not just at the quarterback position. We have got to be able to throw the ball more than we did tonight, at a higher percentage, and be able to stress the defense. We were unable to do that. We will reassess it, and we will figure out who gives us the best chance to win next week.”
The Buffaloes dominated in every facet of the game. CU totaled 578 yards of offense to CSU's 225. Senior Sefo Liufau threw for 318 yards and one touchdown, bringing his career touchdowns total against CSU to five (he threw zero interceptions against the Rams in his four years).
Colorado utilized a high-tempo spread attack that kept the CSU defense on its heels for most of the game. Quick tosses, screens and swing passes helped the Buffaloes move the ball down the field with ease, which in turn opened up lanes inside for Liufau and Phillip Lindsay to run through.
Lindsay led all rushers with 95 yards and two touchdown. Counterpart Dalyn Dawkins was a bright spot for CSU. The hard-nosed tailback rushed for 88 yards on 14 carries.
The loss is a sour start to the season, but the Rams will look to rebound next week in a home matchup against Texas-San Antonio on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2 pm MST.