Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field went down as smoothly as a freshly poured pint of Guinness at Conor O’Neill’s for the Buffaloes and their fans.
A picturesque early autumn day provided the backdrop for Colorado’s first Pac-12 home victory since defeating the California Golden Bears 41-24 on November 16, 2013. The win was also the most complete performance CU has enjoyed against a conference foe since that game.
“For us to finally get a win like that at home against a Pac-12 opponent is a really good thing,” said center Alex Kelley following a dominant offensive performance. “We almost packed this place out for a 12:30 game and that’s never happened during my time here.”
After a slow start relative to their previous four contests, and facing their first 1st quarter deficit of the season, Colorado came out on their second possession and gave the ball to sophomore tailback Kyle Evans and asked him to pound it. He did just that for six consecutive snaps, which led to a perfectly prepared deep ball from Steven Montez to a waiting Shay Fields 51 yards downfield.
“I’m just always ready, that’s how you have to be. I didn’t know they were going to give me the ball six times but I was ready for it and luckily we threw it up top and scored to Shay so it worked out,” said Evans.
That throw would jumpstart an impressive encore performance from the redshirt freshman quarterback. After missing his first three passes, Montez would proceed to hit 11 consecutive completions, encompassing 232 yards and 3 touchdowns. Through his first two full games Montez has impressed, playing with a level of consistency and poise well beyond his years.
“Steven’s been working hard. This is just a credit to all his off-the-field work,” said Evans. “Working with Sefo in the film room, whether it was throwing extra balls to receivers, whatever it was he was out there doing it.”
Aiding Montez in that impressive stat line was junior receiver Shay Fields. Fields showcased his all-world speed against the Beavers, finishing with 7 catches for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Fields was consistently beating Oregon State’s coverage deep but perhaps the most eye-popping play of the day came on a simple screen to the sideline. After receiving the ball, Fields shifted upfield and saw his teammate Devin Ross cordoning off two Oregon State defenders. One quick juke to the right, and Fields engaged the nitro and went untouched for 63 yards. The score was his third of the day, and further evidence of just how dangerous this Colorado offense has become.
"Our offensive line is really protecting well, in all of our games. They’ve played well and that’s given our whole offense confidence. I tell them all the time, if the big guys up front do what they’re supposed to, then our great skill guys can make plays and that’s what you’re seeing happen, “ said head coach Mike MacIntyre. “Same thing with our defense, up front is doing well and controlling things and then our skill on the back end is making plays.”
The Colorado defense, anchored by the front seven, did their part and continued their opportunistic run of play, forcing a turnover for a nation-leading 18th straight game. That first interception came on a Rick Gamboa pick-six off a deflection provided by Kenneth Olugbode.
“It was actually pretty funny, we talked about it on the sideline. Last year I helped K.O. get his pick-six, this year he helped me get mine, “ said Gamboa. “Before the play, the quarter was almost ending, we had a sense they might go for a screen. He jumped it, hit him, the ball popped out, and I caught it. As soon as I caught it I knew I needed to score.”
Jim Leavitt’s unit would allow just two field goals on the day, posting a second half shutout and limiting the Beavers to 226 total yards.
“I think you can see our confidence in our play, in the way we talk to people, and the way we feel and carry ourselves around,” said defensive back Ryan Moeller, who started against Oregon State. “I think every one of us is level-headed and ready to go the next step. USC is what we’re thinking about right now.”
That next step is defeating a storied program for the very first time. Colorado heads to Los Angeles next weekend looking as sharp, and as confident, as any team in the conference.
“I think this win proves that we can do it, that we’re legitimate. Every week we’ve gotten better and we’ve got to keep doing that,” said MacIntyre. “We have 7 really good teams left to play, in a lot of hard venues and USC’s the next one and our guys have to get ready for that.”
- Shay Fields became the fourth Buffalo to record 3 receiving touchdowns in a game, joining Richard Johnson, Rae Carruth, and Nelson Spruce who last did it against Cal in Berkeley on September 27th, 2014. His 169 yards receiving are the 14th most in Colorado history in one game.
- Colorado is 4-1 for the first time since 2005 and 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007. This was also the first time the Buffs have won consecutive Pac-12 conference games.
- The 41-point win was CU’s largest in a conference game since defeating Kansas State 54-7 in Boulder on October 24th, 1992.
- Placekicker Davis Price set a freshman record with his first career field goal make. The 54-yarder beat out Will Oliver’s 52-yarder versus California in Boulder on September 10, 2011.
- Quarterback Steven Montez has amassed 626 yards passing and 6 touchdowns in his first two career games.