It wasn’t a pretty affair by any means, but the Colorado Buffaloes are 3-0. The Buffs limited the San Diego State Aztecs to just 155 yards in a 20-10 victory Saturday at Folsom Field.
The Buffs had less than 48 hours to prepare for San Diego State after CU’s original opponent, Southern California, withdrew when several players tested positive for COVID-19. Even with the return of senior wide receiver K.D. Nixon, who finished with 26 yards on four receptions, the Buffs put up their fewest points of the season. Fortunately for the Buffs, they also allowed their fewest points of the season.
“I would say it was a good win for us as a team, a difficult win, but one of those wins that you kind of hope that you’re able to do what we were able to do today,” said Head coach Karl Dorrell. “It was tough on us given that we haven’t had much time to prepare for this game but what our players did a great job with was handling the information that we did have.”
Senior linebacker Nate Landman put up a valiant resume for another Pac-12 defensive player of the week award, totaling 11 tackles and limiting SDSU to 79 rushing yards. Landman said the Buffs excelled at controlling the line of scrimmage and that the game was a “huge step” for the Buffs’ D.
Early on, senior quarterback Sam Noyer showed no rust after the bye week. Noyer drove the Buffs 83 yards and punched in his fourth rushing touchdown of the year from the one-yard line to give CU a 7-0 lead.
Colorado’s secondary limited the Aztec’s dual QB system of Carson Baker and Jordan Brookshire to 76 passing yards. Senior safety Derrion Rakestraw was all over the field with a QB hurry and seven tackles.
“It was huge for us,” Rakestraw said. “Going into this one we knew we had to stop the run. They got some really good running backs and we didn’t have too much time to prepare but we went out there and got it done, we believed in each other, we believed in the coaches and in the game plan that we put together.”
Junior wide receiver Jaylon Jackson entered the action in the second quarter, hauling in his first career TD on an athletic three-yard pitch from Noyer. On CU’s next offensive drive Noyer surrendered his first pick-six of the year on a poor screen pass to let the Aztecs back in the game, 14-7; Dorrell chalked Noyer’s poor decision to a learning experience. San Diego State would tack on a field goal and trailed the Buffs 14-10 at the half.
CU’s offense managed just two field goals in the second half, but sophomore running back Jarek Broussard chewed off plenty of clock while rushing for his third consecutive 100-yard game.
Colorado held the Aztecs scoreless after the intermission and junior safety Curtis Appleton picked off Brookshire late in the fourth quarter to send the Buffs into victory formation. It was his first career interception in his fifth career game.
“I’m extremely proud of Curtis Appleton for going out there and making that game-ending play,” Rakestraw said. “I know (it was) a confidence booster for him and that just shows us what we can do out there.”
CU’s win also secured bowl eligibility after just three wins. If COVID-19 cooperates, the Buffs will go bowling for the first time since 2016. But the landmark victory wasn’t top of mind for Dorrell after the game.
“I’m not even thinking about bowls right now,” Dorrell said. “I’m focused on the next job or the next task in front of us, which is Arizona.”
As Dorrell mentioned, Colorado will hit the road next week to challenge the 0-2 Arizona Wildcats on Dec. 5.
Contact CU Independent Visuals / Operations Manager Nigel Amstock at firstname.lastname@example.org