I don't want to throw cold water on a performance that certainly deserves recognition and excitement - this is, after all, the best Colorado has looked after a game against FBS competition, such as it is, since... what, Wyoming in 2009? The 2010 RMS? - but let's keep some perspective. This team was never going to be defined by the way it performed in this game; it will be defined by how they take to the conference slate, something that is still far from known. Basically, on this happy Tuesday, my message is this: call me after that trip to Oregon at the end of the month.
Today in the bag, I'm talking the Rocky Mountain Beat-down, notable action around the world of college football, and how the rest of the CU Athletic Department fared.
Click below for the bag...
#TheRise claims its first victim -
Well now, wasn't that a hell of a show? The 2016 Colorado Buffaloes got their season off to a fantastic start in South Denver, checking nearly every box against little brother en route to a 44-7 final that, even in its substantial margin, belies how total the victory was.
The wide gulf in class, form, and preparation was evident from the opening drives. Whereas, just a year ago, the Buffs struggled to find early footing in the 2015 RMS, this time around they seemed ready for the fight from the get-go. Colorado would score touchdowns on their first two possessions, while holding their opponent to three-and-outs on their opening six opportunities. It just appeared too easy; I kept waiting for the curtain to drop, and the Rams to try and get into the game, but the counter punch never came. They were too inept on offense and too placid on defense to find a foothold. Accordingly, the Buffs would take that opening momentum and turn it into a 31-0 halftime lead, leveraging an offense that looked solid and a defense that was maniacal. From there it was all whitewash on a set foundation; CU was never going to lose, it was only a matter of degree.
|CU easily pushed aside little brother in the season opener. From: USA Today|
Compared with their defensive counterparts, the CU offense was solidly short of perfect on the night, but still more than effective enough, given the circumstances. With the tweaked scheme getting its first run-out, the unit chewed out 578 yards on a 6.5 per snap clip. There were a number of foibles evident (three total fumbles, including two lost), and you could tell the tents were folded, schematically, after halftime. Still, I was happy with the performance; the up-tempo looked nice when employed, Phil Lindsay looks like a stud, and the receivers were able to show off their ability to fill the Spruce-less vacuum. Really, the only nit I have to pick is that QB Sefo Liufau, who was taking far too many hits in a game that was clearly in-hand, stayed in until the final offensive drive of the game. Coach Mike MacIntyre was playing with fire here, and it could have cost him dearly. If the offensive scheme was being dialed back, due to the margin on the board, then why have him out there? Not like he needs the reps.
|Obligatory. From: @RicoBlank|
The Bulle(i)t points:
- Liufau finished 23-33 through the air for 318 yards and a score, along with 66 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Good enough to earn him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, which is pretty damn cool. However, to me he seemed to be a step-shy of on-target throughout the night; a number of his throws were sailing wide, forcing tougher catches from his receivers than what needed to be. Far from his best night, to be honest. That said, if that's the worst Liufau plays all year, Colorado will be in pretty good shape.
- Phillip Lindsay is a beast. 95 rushing yards and two scores to go along with 23 receiving on three grabs, he shone early and often as the Buffs compiled their insurmountable halftime lead. He's capable of so much this season, and it's good to see him out on the right foot. A few fumbles, though, are not a good sign. Expect the whole offense to be focusing on holding onto the ball this week.
- Woah, let me tell you about Chidobe Awuzie. Eight tackles on the evening (lead the team) with a pick, a break-up, and a tackle for loss. He seemed to be on a completely different plane from everyone else; his ability to tackle on the edge is beyond this level. Enjoy the season this kid is going to have, you won't see anything like it for some time.
- Anyone else notice how good the outside blocking was on offense? Both on edge runs and screen plays, the blocking by the wideouts was some of the best I've seen in Black and Gold. Caveat for competition applied, but it's something to follow as the season progresses. With the spread offense the Buffs are running, it's vital that the receivers are capable of, legally, keeping the opposing DBs out of the action at the point of attack. So far, so good.
- Diego Gonzalez: nine kickoffs, eight touchbacks. Yo. Add that to three of three on field goal attempts, and 'Dinero' might finally be capable of living up to his nickname.
- Colorado was eight of eight in the redzone, with five TDs. After an offseason spent emphasizing scoring chances, it's a sight to see.
Around the world of college football -
- Texas 50 - Notre Dame 47 (OT) -
Easily the game of the weekend, UT survived a second half comeback from the Irish (which had previously culminated in a bizarre blocked extra point return to tie late in the 4th) to stamp their mark on the early season. Behind the solid play of freshman QB Shane Buechele (280 yards passing, 33 rushing), Texas boasted a fast-paced offense that looked *gasp* fun, which is something wholly unnatural for the typically staid confines of DKR. Could the Burnt Orange, after years wandering the wasteland, finally be back to playing quality football?
|The 'Horns barely edged out Notre Dame in the weekend's best game. From: SI.com|
- Michigan 63 - Hawai'i 3 -
Looking ahead in the schedule, past Idaho State, Colorado's next opponent will be Michigan. The Wolverines did little to comfort the hearts of BuffNation with a romp over old friend Hawai'i, who looked about as bad as an FBS team could. Sure, the Rainbow Warriors have an excuse - they're just a week and some 9,000 miles from their last game against Cal in Australia - but they were flat awful in the Big House this past weekend. By extension, UM looks damn tough two weeks out of CU's trip to Ann Arbor. As decent as the Buffs look right now, I'm not liking their chances to be competitive out east.
- Stanford 26 - Kansas State 13 -
Of the 11 Pac-12 teams in action this past weekend, only three can really be said to have escaped with their heads held high; Colorado, Washington (who beat hapless Rutgers) and Stanford. The rest either lost, played an FCS school, or both (hi, Washington State!).
|McCaffrey remains a one-man cheat code. From: the LA Times.|
- Florida State 45 - Ole Miss 34 -
Week 1 of the college football season wrapped up in strong fashion Monday night with the Seminoles marking a dramatic comeback against the Rebels. With just three minutes to go before halftime, it seemed as if the SEC side had this neutral-site affair in the bag, up 28-6 with momentum on their side. FSU, however, managed to salvage national title hopes with 33 unanswered points, turning a slew of negative meme opportunities on their heads. The Seminole star for the evening was freshman QB Deandre Francois, who put up an obscene 419 yards and two scores in tuning the tide against Mississippi. You'll be hearing this kid's name a lot over the next few years.
Colorado Athletics completes successful weekend across all fronts -
While the football team earned the headlines in Boulder, it should be noted that the entirety of Colorado Athletics enjoyed a strong holiday weekend.
|Wetmore and the Stand opened up their 2016 account in style. From: CUBuffs.com|
Possibly even more impressive, the volleyball team completed a statement sweep over ranked opponents Penn State and Illinois this weekend, vaulting themselves into the top-25, for their efforts. Both were 3-2 wins for the ladies, and marked a program first: knocking off ranked opponents in back-to-back matches. It's a great start to the home slate for new head coach Jesse Mahoney, who has the opportunity to make some serious waves with his first year in Boulder. If they can come out of the non-conference season relatively unscathed, they could be a serious contender not only for the NCAA Tournament, but a good seed and a favorable site come winter. Their next stop is San Diego, where they'll face yet another ranked opponent, #18 USD, on Friday.
|A pair of big home wins has the volleyball team in the national rankings. From: CUBuffs.com|