SEATTLE – Washington’s wealth of offensive weapons coupled with Colorado’s slipshod tackling and offensive inefficiency resulted in yet another night of Pac-12 degradation for the Buffaloes.
U-Dub hammered CU 59-7 on Saturday night in cold, drizzly Husky Stadium, dropping the Buffs to 0-6 in the conference this season and extending their Pac-12 losing streak to 14 consecutive games.
After surging to a 31-7 halftime lead, Washington used three consecutive CU turnovers to score three third-quarter touchdowns and put this one well out of reach – 52-7 – for the free-falling Buffs, now 3-6 overall with three games remaining. UW (6-3, 3-3) won its second consecutive Pac-12 game after dropping three straight.
“We didn’t have a chance to win tonight and I think that’s the first time I’ve completely felt like that,” CU coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We just couldn’t give ourselves a chance at all on defense, a chance to win at all. We didn’t tackle, we turned the ball over in key areas at times . . . we haven’t really done that either and it got out of hand. It was kind of ugly.”
Forget the “kind of” . . . this night reeked of ugly for CU, which at least returns to Folsom Field to play its next two games – next Saturday against California (3:30 p.m.) and Nov. 23 against Southern California (kickoff time not set).
Two of the Buffs’ third-quarter turnovers were interceptions thrown by freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau, a product of Bellarmine Prep in nearby Tacoma who had family and friends among the 66,599 in the Huskies’ renovated home. It wasn’t the kind of homecoming Liufau envisioned, but he remained upbeat.
“It was good to see them (family, friends),” he said. “That much I enjoyed.”
Not much else, though. His first pick was returned 84 yards for a touchdown by safety Tre Watson, the second pick jump-started a seven-play, 40-yard scoring drive capped by quarterback Keith Price’s 4-yard run.
And following those turnovers came a fumble by Tony Jones that was picked up and taken 53 yards for a touchdown by corner Marcus Peters, who was credited with a tipped pass on Liufau’s first pick.
MacIntyre had urged his team in the locker room at the half to “keep focused, fighting, swimming . . . you always have to keep hope. If you lose hope you have no chance. We came out and started a drive then one (turnover), then another one and it just got out of hand after that.”
Leading 52-7 at the end of three quarters, UW had outgained CU 504-281 in total yardage and Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian called off his top dogs. Price left the game having completed 22 of 29 passes for 312 yards and two TDs and rushing for two more. Tailback Bishop Sankey’s final numbers: 23 carries, 143 yards and one score, and four catches for 53 yards. And then there were massive tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (3 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD) and fleet receiver Jaydon Mickens (5 catches, 72 yards).
“They’re pretty much like any other (Pac-12) team we’ve played . . . they’ve got a lot of weapons,” said CU safety Parker Orms, calling Sankey “a great back, hard to wrap up. You need all eleven guys running to the ball and wrapping up.”
MacIntyre said the Buffs defense is being routinely disrespected: “I watched other (UW) games and there are posts running wide open and they overthrow them and don’t catch them. I guess when they play us they’re not nervous at all. I had that happen at San Jose State in our first year – nobody was nervous. Then (later) they started getting nervous and overthrowing balls when we started getting a pass rush. There’s no fear of us right now.”
Price spread his 22 completions among seven receivers before turning over the offense to redshirt freshman Cyler Myles, a Mullen High School product, in the fourth quarter. Liufau also was subbed out in the final quarter, replaced by junior Connor Wood with 11:41 remaining. Liufau’s final stats: 12-for-22, 160 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions.
CU finished the night with 299 yards in total offense to UW’s 628. The Buffs converted six of 15 third down attempts to the Huskies’ eight of 13 – and two of those conversions were for 14 and 12 yards. The Buffs mostly were grabbing air on those two plays.
“Our tackling was horrendous,” MacIntyre said. “We’ve worked on it hard and we didn’t come to play tonight on defense that’s for sure. There wasn’t enough intensity in tackling . . . that’s something I’ve got to fix.”
The Buffs were without starting linebacker Woodson Greer, who has a neck stinger. Receiver Paul Richardson (ankle) wore a protective boot when he exited the team bus Saturday afternoon at the stadium, but played anyway.
It was Richardson’s call, said MacIntyre: “He came in the locker room after a little while and said he could go. I was proud to see him want to do that. I let him completely make the decision.”
Entering the game in pursuit of a pair of school records, Richardson only played the first half. His 53-yard first-half TD catch pushed his 2013 total to nine, leaving him two short of Derek McCoy’s school record of 11 set in 2003. “P-Rich,” who is fifth nationally in receiving yards per game (123.0), made three first-half catches for 77 yards, giving him 1,061 and inching him closer to Charles E. Johnson’s seasonal school mark of 1,149 set in 1992.
Richardson’s 53-yard catch gave him seven receptions of 50-plus yards this season, setting a school record. And by cracking the 1,000-yard receiving barrier in the first half, Richardson became the fifth CU player to reach that mark in a season.
Aside from those personal “P-Rich” highlights, any more were scarce for the Buffs as a team. Another meltdown to end the first half left CU trailing 31-7 at intermission. UW, which had scored on four of its five previous possessions, went 66 yards in 46 seconds and got a 15-yard TD pass from Price to the 6-6, 276-pound Seferian-Jenkins with two seconds before halftime.
That score followed CU’s electing to bring on Will Oliver for a 51-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-one at the UW 34 only 54 seconds before halftime. After reaching that spot, the Buffs staff used back-to-back timeouts to finally arrive at the decision to call on Oliver, who missed a pair of 45-yard attempts last week at UCLA.
Those drifted wide right, as did the 51-yard try in Husky Stadium.
MacIntyre said his decision to try the field goal was based on hoping to be trailing 24-10 – with a made three-pointer – at the half. Initially, he indicated, his decision was to go for a first down: “But we messed up a personnel group going in, and I said ‘let’s kick it’ . . . then we screwed up two things (defensively) on the next drive that made it flat out embarrassing going into halftime.”
Price and his offense said “thank you” and promptly went 66 yards in six plays to open the 24-point halftime lead. UW’s other first-half scoring drives covered 73 yards, resulting in a 27-yard Travis Coons field goal; 64 yards, with Sankey scoring on a 1-yard run; 76 yards, with Price hitting tight end Joshua Perkins with a 6-yard TD pass; and 71 yards, with Price running through the middle of the CU defense for an 18-yard score to push the Huskies up 24-7.
After U-Dub had gone ahead 10-0, CU finally answered with a seven-play, 76-yard march, highlighted by the Liufau-to-Richardson 53-yard scoring play. Oliver’s PAT brought the Buffs to 10-7, but they got no closer the rest of the night.
UW’s lone first-half possession that didn’t result in a score ended on then CU 9-yard line. But the Huskies were up 17-7 at the time, and after forcing a Buffs punt, they quickly got back into their groove and scored on their final two possessions of the first half.
Things only got worse for the Buffs in the second half. After accepting the kickoff, a Liufau pass was tipped by Peters and gathered in by Watson, who returned the pick 84 yards for a touchdown.
Coons’ extra point made the score 38-7, and with less than 5 minutes elapsed in the second half the Buffs were well on their way to another distressing night in the Pac-12.
Two more CU turnovers came in rapid succession and resulted in the scores that sent UW in front 52-7. The Huskies got their final TD on a 5-yard run by reserve running back Dwayne Washington with 11:50 to play. That score followed a missed 48-yard field goal attempt by Oliver on fourth-and-one.
Asked if he was surprised about both decisions to send him onto the field for his two attempts, Oliver said, “It’s not my job to be surprised . . . I have to be ready all the time.”
His final attempt went wide left, and with CU trailing 52-7 at the time, three more points would have been merely a Band-Aid on a decapitation.
“We’re frustrated (but) we can’t cry about it,” Orms said. “We’ve got to get back out there and play.”