The University of Colorado Buffaloes lost to the No. 16 Oregon State University Beavers 19-26 at Folsom Field on Saturday. Despite a late comeback attempt, CU Boulder fell short, and have lost five of their past six games, now falling to 4-5 (1-5 Pac-12) in the 2023 season.
The Buffaloes struggled for much of the night. Through three quarters they were down 20-5 with only 78 total yards compared to the Beaver’s 348 total. In the fourth quarter, however, Colorado scored two touchdowns to cut the deficit to only seven. But in the final minutes, OSU was able to run the clock out and leave Boulder with a win.
“We came up short once again. This is hard,” Colorado head coach Deion Sanders said after the game. “It’s hard because you know you are capable of doing better.”
It was the lack of offensive success that was the crucial blow for the Buffs on Saturday night. After the first three quarters of the game, CU Boulder quarterback Shedeur Sanders only had 66 passing yards, and the team had punted the ball a total of seven times up to that point. Though Sanders was able to lead Colorado to the end zone twice in the final 15 minutes of the game, the team’s miscues earlier in the game meant that a win was never in reach.
Unlike many games in the past, Colorado’’s defense got off to a tremendous start against a highly-ranked team like the Beavers. Through most of the first half, Colorado held OSU to only one score in their first seven drives, while also recovering two forced fumbles in that span. Regardless of Colorado’s defensive start, Oregon State went on to score on all but one of their possessions in the second half and closed out the game with relative ease.
“They rallied at the end and gave a heck of an effort,” Coach Sanders said. “We just wish we could do that in the midst of the game, in the first, second, third, fourth quarter with consistency. And we haven’t found that level of consistency, and that is what’s truly disheartening.”
Colorado’s offense, and more specifically quarterback Shedeur Sanders, found little success compared to their 2023 seasonal statistics. The transfer from Jackson State University only had 11 passes for 66 yards in the first half, along with only 11 rushing yards for CU Boulder as a team. In the fourth quarter with his two touchdowns to Travis Hunter and Anthony Hankerson, Sanders more than doubled his stats in the game. He finished 24/39 with 245 yards and two touchdown passes while being sacked a total of four times for 41 yards. The Buffaloes’ leading rusher was sophomore Sy’veon Wilkerson with four carries for only 17 yards, as Colorado continues to struggle to find success with their running backs.
“You can’t stop losing faith with everything,” Shedeur Sanders said. “Everything’s not gonna work out how you want it to be. So you just have to remain positive and not have any negativity towards the situation because it’s not going to help anything. That’s the situation we’re in so we have to accept that and move forward.”
Many thought Saturday night would be different for Colorado on the offensive side of the ball, as over the week it was announced that Pat Shurmur would be the one calling plays over offensive coordinator Sean Lewis. Shurmer, who has experience in the NFL, didn’t seem to change the Buff’s offensive style. The lack of running and continued leaning on the passing game has been a trend all season. Though it was the first game with this change in the coaching staff, it remains unclear whether Lewis will return to play calling, and if any major changes will be made to the offense before the end of the season.
“Sean is a good man, I think he is a good play caller,” coach Sanders said after the game. “We just needed change at the time. We just needed to try something else at the time. And that’s what we did, and I don’t look back on it, I don’t second guess myself whatsoever.”
Despite the changes in the coaching staff off the field, Colorado’s Travis Hunter once again had a great game on the field, continuing to prove himself as one of the most influential players in the country. Hunter caught eight passes for 98 yards and a touchdown on offense, while also finding two tackles on defense, as the transfer from Jackson State continues to play a majority of the snaps in each game he plays for Colorado.
The Buffaloes had an unlikely start on defense against a team that averaged 35.2 points over the course of the 2023 season. even with the two fumble recoveries and three sacks for the Buffs, the Beavers offense didn’t let up, continuing to march down the field with each of their possessions slowly. By the end of the game, OSU had a total of 418 yards on offense along with 25 total first downs, as well as eight more minutes of possession than Colorado in the second half. Both LaVonta Bentley and Shilo Sanders had eight tackles for the Buffs, but even with a sack for Bentley and a fumble recovery from Sanders, it wasn’t enough for the win.
“We gotta really act like we want it. There’s a difference between believing and thinking. You can think you’re gonna win all day long, but when you believe that has to be partnered with an action,” Coach Sanders said. “We need to see the action behind it.”
Colorado has now lost five of their last six games, including all but one of their Pac-12 games this season. With their only conference win against Arizona State University, the Buffaloes are currently tied for last in the Pac-12 standings along with Washington State University, the University of California Berkeley and ASU. Despite their hot start with much national attention, the CU Boulder football team has taken a fall from grace and is now just fighting for bowl eligibility.
The 4-5 (1-5 Pac-12) CU Buffaloes will return to action next week for their final home game of the 2023 college football season. They will host the 6-3 (4-2 Pac-12) University of Arizona Wildcats at Folsom Field on Saturday, Nov. 11. The game will kick off at 12 p.m. MST and the Pac-12 Network will stream the game.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Eli Gregorski at firstname.lastname@example.org