For the third time in as many weeks, the Colorado Buffaloes walked off the field with the victory chants of the opposing team ringing in their ears.
The visiting No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils knocked off CU with a 21-3 victory before 47,723 fans at Folsom Field on Saturday night. The Buffs fell to 0-3 for the season with the loss, the first time a Colorado football team has started a season 0-3 since the 2000 season.
“We are learning tough life lessons and tough football lessons,” Head Coach Dan Hawkins said. “That pain will drive you to a better day, and we will do that.”
The game was again determined by a few plays the Buffs made–or didn’t make, for that matter. Down 14-3 in the second quarter, the CU offense finally got their first sustained drive going in the game with junior quarterback Bernard Jackson going 4-4 for 41 yards and running for 19 yards on the drive. CU appeared to be gaining some momentum as they crept inside the ASU five yard line.
Facing third down and goal from the two yard line, Jackson faked a handoff, kept the ball up the middle and appeared to stretch the ball across the goal line for a touchdown that would have changed the complexion of the game.
However, it was ruled Jackson fumbled the ball before reaching the goal line, killing any momentum the Buffs had built up with the drive.
“I thought I was in there,” Jackson said. “Sometimes those things don’t go your way.”
Hawkins confirmed how hugely important the fumble was.
“It was a big momentum turner,” Hawkins said. “It was real big. We were kind of feeling it, driving the ball a little bit and if you get that thing, it ends up being a different ball game.”
The Buffs defense continued to have trouble getting off the field, especially in the first half. They held the ball for 17 minutes and 15 seconds and scored twice in that half.
“It’s the little things that are killing us,” junior linebacker Jordon Dizon said. “We have to work on the minute things and we have to fix them.”
Dizon again played extremely well in spite of getting beat in coverage of Arizona States wide receiver Chris McGaha on the Sun Devils’ second touchdown that put them up 14-3. The match up was not a favorable one, but it was also one of the plays that had the result been different, it would have changed the flow of the game.
“I didn’t even know the quarterback had thrown the ball,” Dizon said. “Still, that was my man and I was supposed to cover him. Had that play been different, we have a whole different game.”
Jackson also threw the first interception of his career in the third quarter, and his second turnover of the day ended up being another huge momentum killer for the Buffs and their offense. Facing a third down and 10 in ASU territory after the offense had again developed a nice drive, Jackson floated a pass over the middle intended for junior tight end Tyson DeVree that was intercepted.
“It was third and long and that is one I wish I could have back,” Jackson said. “I have to be patient and make sure I’m making the right reads and execute the way things are supposed to be executed.”
Jackson finished the game 8-18 for 86 yards and the interception. He also ran 17 times for 46 yards.
“There were some things that I did well and some things that I did poorly,” Jackson said. “It’s a matter of getting the ball in the right places and making the right reads.”
Colorado remained realistically in the game until freshman corner back Cha’pelle Brown muffed an ASU punt with 3:55 left in the game and the Sun Devils recovered. They went on to score their third touchdown of the night to make the score 21-3 and put the game out of reach.
Hawkins echoed the idea that a few plays really affected the outcome of the game.
“That game right there was one where you feel like you get a couple plays here and there, and you really get it going,” Hawkins said. “I know it’s close, but we have got to cinch it up. We’re going to have a day where we do win and you guys will say ‘What’s the difference’ and I’ll say ‘Two plays.'”
Dizon remained optimistic after the loss and said team morale remained high in spite of starting the season on a losing streak.
“After we come out of a loss, Coach Hawkins’ words are so contagious,” Dizon said. “It doesn’t feel like I lost tonight. My heart is full of love for him and for this game. I want to go back out tomorrow and prepare for the next game.”