For the first time since 1996, Colorado vs Nebraska means more for CU than just a game for pride. By hammering the Iowa State Cyclones Saturday night, the Buffaloes have accomplished exactally what they wanted to do at the beginning of the season, play for a chance to go to the Big 12 championship game.
By hammering Iowa State, CU improved to 8-2 and will now have a week off to prepare for the Big Red. Making his first start of the season at running back, Senior Cortlan Johnson made the most of his opportunity. Johnson became the first player in CU history to reach 100 yards both rushing and receiving. Johnson rushed for 127 yards on 27 attempts and caught six passes for 105 yards, none bigger than the one he made with :16 seconds left in the first half.
Starting again for the injured Craig Ochs, Bobby Pesavento hit Johnson on a screen pass that the running back took 50 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Buffs a 23-14 halftime lead. Johnson also scored the Buffs final points when he busted up the middle for a 15-yard score that put CU up 40-20.
The game wasen't as close as some believed it would be, as Colorado racked up over 500 total yards on offense. Bobby Pesavento once again looked sharp, comnpleting 16 of 25 passes for 230 yards and two TDs. More importantly, he did not throw an interception. His only mistake came late in the first quarter when he was hit and fumbled deep in CU territory. Instead of throwing the ball away, Pesavento held it and fumbled and the Cyclones recovered at the CU 2-yard line. On forth down, Iowa State's QB Seneca Wallace took it in from 1-yard out and put his team up 14-10.
But that would be about it for the Cyclones. Jermey Flores broke out of his slump to nail 4 of 4 field goals from 37, 48, 35 and 35 yards out. RB Bobby Purify added a 9 yard touchdown run in the third and Cedric Cormier scored his first touchdown since 1998 early in the first.
For the most part the CU defense looked good but again gave up a big play that put CU behind early. Iowa State WR Lane Danielson turned a short pass in the first quarter into a 51-yard touchdown and gave the Cyclones a 7-3 lead.
The Cyclones did total 411 total yards of offense but for the most part their two key players were held in check. QB Seneca Wallace was held to 39 yards rushing and completed only 16 of 29 attempts for 215 yards. He also threw an interception to CU's Rodrick Sneed.
RB Enis Haywood was held to 64 yards on 15 carries and never was a threat.
The Buffaloes will take this week to begin preparation for Nebraska and to try and heal some wounds. Craig Ochs will have the boot on his foot removed Wednesday or Thursday and will then be re-evaluated. If he is healthy, Coach Gary Barnett said he will start.
"Criag is our quarterback, Bobby is our back-up" he said after the game.
The Buffs sustained two more key injuries to their defensive line. Justin Bannan pulled a hamstring during warm-ups and was scheduled to have a MRI today and is listed as questionable. Tyler Brayton sprained his ankle in the third quarter and is also listed as questionable.
The Buffs will need all their defensive linemen healthy because apparently Nebraska likes to run the ball. Who would of thought?