The drought of success in conference play for the football program finally came to an end Saturday, as the Buffs defeated the University of California Golden Bears 41-24. This is the first conference game Colorado has won since the team’s one-point victory over Washington State in the 2012 season, and it is the fourth conference victory since the Buffs joined the Pac-12.
In the win, junior Paul Richardson broke the single-season receiving yards record with 1,201 yards with two games left against USC and Utah.
A win this late in the season brings to light how important discipline has been throughout the season for the Buffs, according to head coach Mike MacIntyre.
“(This win) validates to the players that if you stay on course, you keep working and working, and keep planting seeds, eventually they start to sprout,” MacIntyre said.
Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau threw for 364 yards against California, completing 23 of 36 passes to wide receivers Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce.
“He’s growing up out there,” Paul Richardson said about Liufau. “I remain optimistic.”
In the first quarter, a 39-yard completion by Richardson brought the Buffs to California’s 13-yard line with 6 minutes left. The drive resulted in a 27-yard field goal by junior Will Oliver, bringing the score to 3-0 Buffs.
After a 29-yard drive by California, the Buffaloes picked back up with a 62-yard reception by Spruce. The reception was the longest of Spruce’s career to date. Another 13-yard completion to Richardson brought Colorado to the 10-yard line to end the first quarter. Junior tight end Kyle Slavin caught a pass to score his second career touchdown at 14:56 left in the second quarter.
“We start off games strong, and we did that today,” Richardson said.
California scored its first points at 8:25 in the second quarter, making a 42-yard field goal after an eight-play drive. California’s Khalfani Muhammad rushed around the left end for 55 yards, scoring with 7:11 left in the half and bringing the score to a 10-10 tie.
The Buffaloes responded with a 10-play scoring drive, resulting in a touchdown scored by junior tailback Tony Jones.
“We got into a really good rhythm,” Liufau said after the game. “They gave us a lot of different looks. We had answers for those.”
California wide receiver Darius Powe fumbled after receiving the kick off. Sophomore defensive back Isaac Archuleta recovered the fumble to regain possession for Colorado. Christian Powell finished out the half with a 2-yard touchdown rush at 0:46, bringing the Buffs to a 24-10 lead.
Richardson recorded 105 receiving yards throughout the first half, bringing him to 1158 total this season. This is a new single-season reception record for the Buffaloes.
California changed its offensive leadership in the second half, replacing Jared Goff with freshman Zach Kline. Fortunately, Colorado’s defense had no problem containing the Golden Bears in the third. Senior defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe recorded a sack, while defensemen Jered Bell, Kenneth Crawley, Derrick Webb and Addison Gillam had six tackles each.
The Buff’s final drive of the third quarter resulted in a 24-yard field goal by Oliver, putting the Buffs up by 17 with 42 seconds left. Richardson tied the school record of 11 receptions in a game.
The fourth quarter began with a 63-yard rush by freshman running back Michael Adkins at 12:22. With the Buffs up 34-10 at the time, the chances of a comeback for the Golden Bears seemed nonexistent, although they did end up scoring twice before the clock ran out, both with credit to junior Brendan Bigelow. Spruce recorded a 46-yard kickoff return, resulting in the Buff’s final touchdown with 6:07 remaining.
Talks of going to a Bowl game this year were nothing more than wishful thinking before this win. With two more wins needed and two more games on the schedule, the Buffs must build off of yesterday’s momentum.
“We’re all really excited, but we’re all hungry, and our mindset is to go out and get another win,” Liufau said.
Coach McIntyre is also optimistic about his inaugural squad progressing toward the postseason.
“Nowhere are we (up to par) yet, but this is a good step in the right direction,” he said. “Now the seniors actually have a little bit more to play for.”
The Buffs will host the University of Southern California next Saturday, November 23. The kickoff time is yet to be announced.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Jordyn Siemens at Jordyn.Siemens@colorado.edu.