BOULDER - From week to week in the Pac-12 Conference, if the method of extermination changes for the Colorado Buffaloes, the outcomes don't. Oregon abused them with speed two games ago, Stanford took its turn with power on Saturday at Folsom Field.
And for the record, it's been a while since the Buffs have helped themselves offensively - try the fourth quarter of their Pac-12 opener at Washington State in late September.
Saturday's final: No. 15 Stanford 48, CU 0 - and that zero is significant. It marked the Buffs' first home shutout since Nov. 15, 1986, when Oklahoma blanked CU 28-0.
More dark news: It was the Buffs' fifth consecutive loss, and in those five defeats they've been outscored 261-51. It also was CU's 11th straight defeat by a ranked opponent. CU (1-8, 1-5) also remained winless at home this season, with two chances remaining - Nov. 17 vs. Washington, Nov. 23 vs. Utah - after next weekend's final road trip to Arizona.
"Stanford got after us with their defense and their offense made plays when they needed to," CU coach Jon Embree said. "We just weren't good all the way around . . . I don't think something happened (as a turning point)."
Embree had contemplated a quarterback change this week, replacing junior starter Jordan Webb with sophomore Nick Hirschman after the latter gave the Buffs' offense some second-half life in the 70-14 loss at Oregon.
A lukewarm week of practice by Hirschman kept Webb in the starting role Saturday. Hirschman replaced Webb for one first-half series, then opened the second half with the Buffs trailing 35-0 - 21 points better than last week's score at intermission.
Embree said Webb was "clearly the better guy" in practice, then deferred further comment until his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Through almost three quarters, neither Webb nor Hirschman was effective. So sophomore Connor Wood got the call with 1:23 left in the third quarter -- and CU trailing 45-0. Wood promptly connected with tight end Nick Kasa for a 14-yard completion - the Buffs' longest play of the game to that point. He had fourth-quarter completions of 22 yards to Tony Jones and a 20-yarder to Kasa, which moved CU across midfield for the first time all afternoon.
Immediately thereafter, Wood was sacked, fumbled and lost nearly all of that yardage. On the bright side, the Buffs recovered and avoided another 50-plus point loss. That's the kind of homecoming afternoon it had been for CU.
Webb finished with four of 10 passes completed for 19 yards (one interception). Hirschman went four of six for 12 yards, and Wood completed four of seven throws for 66 yards.
Through three quarters, the Buffs had managed three first downs and 40 yards in total offense. They left Folsom Field with 76 yards in total offense on 44 plays - an average of 1.7 per play - and minus-21 yards rushing. The Cardinal has allowed minus-34 yards rushing in its past three games.
Embree said his team's offensive struggles resulted from a "perfect storm" brewed by one of the nation's best defenses: "When we had people open we had protection issues and when we did have protection we couldn't get people open. It was one of those things, but protection was a problem (seven sacks among his three QBs).
"You know, there is a reason why they are No. 2 in the country against the run and why they are what they are as a defense. They are a very good defense and they showed it today."
Meanwhile, Stanford also juggled its quarterbacks, as expected using Josh Nunes first, then replacing him with Kevin Hogan. Nunes went three-of-five for 23 yards, while Hogan - touted as more of an option threat - was mildly surprising, completing 18-of-23 passes for 184 yards and two TDs. Hogan also ran seven times for 48 yards before he was replaced in the fourth quarter by Brent Nottingham, who eventually was spelled by Robbie Picazo.
In what nearly has become a weekly occurrence for CU in Pac-12 play, this game had been decided by halftime. The Buffs trailed the Cardinal 35-0 at intermission, and their offensive stats showed why: 20 yards in total offense, one of eight third-down conversions and two first downs (one by penalty).
Stanford, meanwhile, rolled up 13 first downs and 249 yards in first-half offense, 115 rushing and 134 through the air. The Cardinal finished 436 yards in total offense - 230 passing, 206 rushing.
Both teams used two quarterbacks each before intermission, but the halftime stats offered a clear picture of which pair was most effective.
Webb opened for CU and promptly went three-and-out - and that turned out to be a harmless series. On the Buffs' next possession, facing third-and-six, he was intercepted by free safety Ed Reynolds, who ran untouched for 52 yards and Stanford's first touchdown.
Hirschman entered for CU's next series, was the recipient of a first down on a fourth-down Cardinal holding penalty but couldn't advance the Buffs in any other manner. Webb reentered on the Buffs' next possession and played for the rest of the first half.
CU's defense was standing up to Stanford for almost the entire first quarter and might have provided a turning point. But freshman corner Yuri Wright dropped a sure interception on the Cardinal's side of the field.
The Buffs forced a punt on that series, but on the first play thereafter, Kasa bobbled a Webb pass and the ball was picked out of the air by inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley. Three plays later, Cardinal tailback Stepfan Taylor scored on a 26-yard run and the skids had been greased.
Stanford's other first-half TDs came courtesy of a 1-yard Remound Wright run, a 1-yard pass from Hogan to Zach Ertz and a 2-yard plunge by Taylor. Jordan Williamson kicked five PATs and the Cardinal had its 35 first-half points.
At the end of three quarters, Stanford had opened its lead to 45-0 on a 31-yard field goal by Williamson and a 19-yard pass from Hogan to tight end Levine Toilolo. With 9:52 to play, Williamson added a 35-yard field goal to end the Cardinal's stroll through Folsom at 48-0.
BUFF BITS: Senior linebacker Jon Major suffered a hyperextended elbow in practice last week and did not play Saturday . . . . Junior nosetackle Nate Bonsu sprained an ankle in practice and wasn't expected to play . . . . In what was termed a precautionary measure, freshman nosetackle Justin Solis was taken from the field on a gurney after suffering an apparent neck injury early in the second half. He was said to have movement in his extremities when he was carted off. Results of an MRI later were negative . . . . Saturday's paid attendance was 44,138.