FRESNO, Calif. – On a night that tied for the hottest in history for a University of Colorado football game, the Buffaloes shriveled – but not from the heat.
Fast-striking Fresno State scorched CU and much of the school’s 123-year-old record book, humiliating the visitors 69-14 on Saturday night in the Buffs’ final non-conference game. Dropping to 0-3 under second-year coach Jon Embree, CU opens its Pac-12 Conference schedule next Saturday at Washington State.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Embree said. "We gave up too many big plays early. We didn't sustain drives and it seemed like every time we threw an interception it was a touchdown."
Embree said the Buffs must "keep grinding, keep fighting, keep competing . . . I don't know what else to tell you. We have to find a way to come out and take what we do on the practice field and transfer it on Saturday."
He said he still believes in his coaching staff and believes his players will show "a lot of resolve, a lot of fight to figure out how to do it on the road again next week in our first conference game."
The temperature in Bulldogs Stadium at kickoff was 102 degrees, matching the temperature for CU's 2007 trip to Arizona State. But Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr was several degrees beyond that. He threw for 300 yards and five touchdown passes in the first half as the Bulldogs rolled to a 35-0 advantage after one quarter and were up 55-7 at intermission.
CU used three quarterbacks – Jordan Webb, Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman. None was effective, with Webb and Wood throwing interceptions that were returned for touchdowns by Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas.
Webb, the transfer from Kansas, started his third consecutive game and threw his two picks in the first half. Wood, the transfer from Texas, replaced him as the second-half starter, but threw a pair of third-quarter interceptions and was replaced by Hirschman.
Carr, the younger brother of former Bulldogs QB David Carr, carved up CU’s green, freshman-stocked secondary. He didn’t play in the second half, finishing his night 17-of-22 for 300 yards, with the five TDs and one interception. Carr’s yardage total was the most ever against CU in one half.
His help on the ground came from senior tailback Robbie Rouse, who entered the game needing 79 yards to become the school’s career rushing leader. Rouse, who entered the game averaging 119 yards, ran for the record in the first quarter, shredding the CU defense for 144 yards on nine carries and scoring twice. His night was finished, as were the Buffs.
After losses of five points to Colorado State (22-17) and two to Sacramento State (30-28), Fresno State made sure Saturday night’s game would never be that close – and it only took a quarter.
Actually it took less than that. Only a few ticks over half a quarter were required before the Buffs had settled into an historic first-quarter hole with no escape route.
When the first 15 minutes was done – it took just over an hour to complete – CU trailed 35-0, with the Bulldogs’ total the most ever allowed in a first quarter in 123 years of CU football.
Fresno State (2-1) led by three touchdowns at the 7:25 mark, having scored on an eight-play, 65-yard drive to open the game (7-0), intercepting Webb to set up its second score on a quick 45-yard march (14-0), then using a 28-yard punt return by Isaiah Burse to set up a one-play, four-second drive to make it 21-0.
But the Bulldogs, beaten 42-25 last week at No. 4 Oregon, were barely getting loose on this 102-degree evening in California’s mid-section.
After forcing a CU three-and-out, Carr and Burse connected for a 97-yard catch-and-run TD – the second-longest scoring play against the Buffs in history. That one-play drive required 13 seconds and sent the Bulldogs up 28-0.
They capped the quarter with Rouse’s record-setting run – a 94-yarder that gave him the Fresno State career rushing mark and also was the longest ever allowed by the Buffs. After he crossed the goal line with 2:39 left in the quarter and Quentin Breashears kicked the PAT, the Bulldogs owned a 35-0 lead and the 2012 Buffs owned a dark spot in the school’s record manual.
Fresno State finished the quarter with a 322-45 edge in total offense and a 10-1 bulge in first-downs. The Bulldogs’ yardage total was the most given up by the Buffs in a quarter since Oklahoma racked up 312 in the third quarter of its 82-42 rout in Boulder in 1980.
Could it get worse? Unbelievably, yes.
Fresno State outscored CU 20-7 in the second quarter to take a 55-7 halftime lead and finished with 516 yards in total offense. The 55 points were second-most ever allowed by CU in a half, and the Bulldogs’ 516 first-half yards were the most ever run up by a CU opponent in any half.
In their nightmarish first two quarters, the Buffs avoided a shutout on a 23-yard scoring pass from Webb to Tyler McCulloch. But less than 3 minutes later, Webb gave those points back with his second interception of the half. Thomas returned it 16 yards for a score, and at 2:10 before intermission Fresno State had its 55-7 advantage while CU was stuck with its most humbling half of football in school history.
Thomas opened Fresno State’s second-half scoring by intercepting Wood and returning the pick 43 yards for his second TD of the night. Breashears kicked the Bulldogs in front 62-7 with 9:06 left in the third quarter.
The quarter ended that way, but the Bulldogs’ reserves weren’t satisfied. Freshman running back Marteze Waller’s 1-yard run with 9:07 to play finished Fresno State’s final drive and at 69-7 the carnage was complete for the Bulldogs.
With 2:58 remaining, CU got a 1-yard TD run by Josh Ford and an extra point kick by Will Oliver to make the score 69-14 – and that’s how the Buffs’ hellish night ended.