The University of Colorado Buffaloes fell to the University of Oregon Ducks 42-6 on Saturday in Eugene. It was the first loss of the season for the No. 19 Buffaloes, who are now 3-1 after four games in the 2023 college football season.
The No. 10 Ducks were the real first test for Colorado this season, Head Coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and his team struggled all afternoon. They were only able to find the end zone once compared to six times for Oregon, and left Autzen Stadium with a lot of work to do moving forward with the rest of their difficult Pac-12 schedule this year.
“It was a good, old-fashioned, butt-kicking. No excuses, no nothing,” Coach Sanders said in his postgame press conference. “Their coaches did a heck of a job preparing their team, obviously we didn’t.”
Colorado’s game against Oregon differed dramatically from their previous three this season. In weeks past, the team was able to make big plays on offense to move down the field and use their defense to stop the opposing team’s attack. In their week four game in Eugene, however, the Buffaloes did neither of these things and let the Ducks do whatever they wanted on both sides of the ball.
CU finished with a season-low 199 total yards of offense and 13 first downs, compared to 522 yards of offense and 30 first downs for Oregon. The Ducks also rushed for six times as many yards for 6.3 yards per run against the Buffs’ 1.6 yards per run, and they had seven total sacks as they didn’t allow Colorado to get anything going on either end of the ball.
Another lethal blow for Colorado was the penalties they accrued on Saturday, as they had 12 flags called which resulted in losing 103 total yards. Last week penalty yards were a key factor in the Buffs winning over the Rams, but this week it was CU who were on the back foot and were punished for it.
“We expect to go out there and practice with perfection. And go out there and execute the things we practice, we just didn’t do it today,” Coach Sanders said in the press conference. “It was just something that happened and they got the best of us today, that’s just it.”
Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders came into the game on Saturday as one of the projected finalists for the Heisman trophy award averaging 417 passing yards and 3.6 total touchdowns through his first three games. At Autzen Stadium, the transfer from Jackson State seemed to finally be outmatched by the top 10 Oregon Ducks defense, as Sanders finished 23-33 with 159 yards and a touchdown he threw near the end of the game. Sanders couldn’t get into a rhythm with his receivers or his offensive line all afternoon, also being sacked seven times for a total loss of 73 yards.
“Everybody understood what transpired so it’s really ‘let’s get locked back in, let’s understand what happened, and let’s move forward from there,” Shedeur Sanders said after the game. “It’s the game of football. If you don’t execute you’re going to lose and if the other team executes they’re going to win.”
The University of Oregon Ducks seemed to execute their game plan to perfection once the first quarter started. By the end of the first Oregon was up 13-0, with 134 total yards compared to CU’s 21 total. By the end of the first half, the Ducks were winning 35-0 with 378 total yards, as Colorado still only had 21 yards of offense after the first 30 minutes of the game. Oregon scored on five of their first six possessions and by the time the halftime whistle blew the Buffs were looking for any signs of hope, none of which they could find.
“You just got your butt kicked. It just happens sometimes. Like a fighter, you just got caught, it happens,” Coach Sanders said. “There’s not a huge talent gap, I think they just played a really concise game.”
Despite the damage already being done, CU matched Oregon much closer in the second half, as they had a longer time of possession and had 34 more total yards. Though chasing the win was out of the question, Colorado proved that they still had some fight and toughness left as the cumulative score in the second half was 7-6 in favor of the Ducks.
Xavier Weaver was the leading receiver for Colorado on Saturday as the transfer from USF had nine catches for 75 yards. Alongside Weaver, CU’s tight end Michael Harrison caught three passes for 22 yards, including the lone touchdown of the game for the Buffs. In terms of rushing the ball, Colorado has struggled to find success all year. Four running backs made plays for CU, but Anthony Hankerson had the most production with five rushes for 31 yards. Freshman running back Dylan Edwards was also busy on the field with three rushes for 21 yards and three catches for nine yards as the Buffs still look to solidify and broaden their running attack.
Colorado’s two-way star Travis Hunter did not play on Saturday following his injury in last week’s double-overtime win against CSU. Hunter is still expected to be out for at least two more weeks in the games against USC and Arizona State.
“Travis [Hunter] is always going to be missed, he’s the best player in college football. It’s just like saying you’re writing an article and your pen is missing,” Coach Sanders said to the press.
Saturday was a nightmare for many Colorado football fans, but it comes after a 3-0 start that would’ve sounded impossible a year ago. With the Pac-12 conference being one of the strongest in college football, the Buffs have a unique and demanding task each week for the remainder of the 2023 season.
“This is the worst we are going to be. You better get me right now because I like what I see,” Coach Sanders said when asked about the remainder of the season. “I’m excited about our future, it looks really good. I’m excited about it, I really am.”
The Colorado Buffaloes return to action next weekend against their highest-ranked opponent of the season. They will face off against the No. 8 USC Trojans at Folsom Field on Saturday, Sept. 30, with kickoff at 10 a.m. MST and live on FOX.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Eli Gregorski at firstname.lastname@example.org