A month ago Mike MacIntyre challenged the Colorado football team to make November games matter.

The Buffs entered Folsom Field on Saturday afternoon facing the reality that a loss to California would mean they'd be eliminated from postseason eligibility and playing for pride in the final two games of another losing season.

Behind an inspired defensive effort, a historic day for wide receiver Paul Richardson and another level of growth achieved from quarterback Sefo Liufau, the Buffs dispatched the Bears 41-24 providing themselves with another opportunity to play a meaningful game next week on senior day against Southern Cal.

"I think it's real important," MacIntyre said. "I know a lot of people thought I was crazy when I kind of mentioned that awhile back. And I thought that we could win some games here. I still do. I still think we can win some more left. They're going to be tough. They're really good football teams.

"Senior day is awesome for the seniors but now the seniors actually have a little bit more to play for and so do the players out there. So when they come back Sunday, I guarantee you they're going to be a little bit more tuned up and a little bit sharper. I wish they were always that way."

If they could all be home games on windy days in November, the Colorado football program might be rolling.


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In front 38,252, the Buffs snapped their 14-game losing streak in the Pac-12 Conference on a cold, blustery evening that turned out to be a lot of fun for a change on the home sideline in Boulder. They also earned their 300th victory at Folsom Field.

It is just the fourth CU win over a Pac-12 foe since the school joined the conference prior to the 2011 season and it came two years and four days after the Buffs earned their first victory in the conference over Arizona. That 2011 win came on a day with very similar conditions.

Colorado’s De’Jon Wilson, left, and Paul Richardson celebrate the Buffs’ win by singing the school fight song with fans after
Colorado's De'Jon Wilson, left, and Paul Richardson celebrate the Buffs' win by singing the school fight song with fans after Saturday's game at Folsom Field. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

The Buffs kept their bowl hopes alive for another week by improving to 4-6 overall and 1-6 in the conference.

"November matters," said senior safety Parker Orms, who sat out Saturday with a shoulder injury. "So that's a big thing right now. So we'll be looking forward to next week."

Cal now holds the longest losing streak in the Pac-12. The Bears have lost 13 straight conference games and lost for the ninth consecutive time this season.

Richardson had another memorable game against the Bears, although it wasn't the highlight-reel performance he provided here in a non-conference loss to Cal two years ago.

Richardson set a new single-season school record for receiving yards while tying his school record for receptions in a game and moved into fourth place on the career receptions list.

He caught 11 passes for 140 yards giving him 1,201 receiving yards this season surpassing the old single-season record of 1,149 yards set by Charles E. Johnson in 1992.

Richardson has steadfastly said since the summer months before the season started that he believes this team can reach a bowl game this season. It's still facing two rather large hurdles, but he believes now more than ever.

"It feels great to be able to have that opportunity," Richardson said. "Why not finish off the season with a home streak with this upcoming game and have that momentum carry us on for the rest of the season?"

But on Richardson's record-setting night, he was almost overshadowed by fellow wide receiver Nelson Spruce who made seven catches for a career-best 140 yards and also returned an onside-kick attempt for a touchdown.

It was the first time CU produced two 100-yard receivers in the same game since the 2009 season finale at Nebraska and it coincided with the first 300-yard passing performance in the career of true freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau.

He completed 23 of 36 passes for 364 yards and three scores.

"He's just growing up out there," Richardson said. "Each and every week he's getting better."

Cal played without leading tackler and Butkus Award candidate Khairi Fortt, a big blow to the worst defense in the conference.

Both offenses started slowly trying to adapt to the wind.

The Buffs led 3-0 early in the second quarter when Liufau connected with tight end Kyle Slavin on a 10-yard touchdown pass to push the advantage to double digits.

Cal evened things up 10-10 later in the quarter on a 42-yard field goal from Vincenzo D'Amato that was kicked through uprights swaying in the wind on the north end of the stadium and a 55-yard touchdown run down the west sideline by running back Khalfani Muhammad.

CU took the lead for good with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first half when Liufau hit Tony Jones with a 10-yard touchdown pass.

On the ensuing kickoff, Will Oliver drilled the ball low toward a Cal player in the middle of the field 10 yards away. It was likely an attempt to keep the ball down out of the wind but wound up hitting Darius Powe and was recovered by CU reserve Isaac Archuleta.

Running back Christian Powell breezed into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run nine plays later.

The CU defense ranked 111th in the nation against the pass coming into the game but held up well against the eighth-best passing attack in the nation. The Buffs came up with three sacks and held freshman quarterback Jared Goff to 173 passing yards and no touchdowns.

The Cal offense padded its numbers in the fourth quarter with two drives ending in touchdown runs by Brendan Bigelow.

CU fans have grown too used to watching Pac-12 opponents score meaningless touchdowns late in a mostly empty Folsom Field. But they came Saturday as CU was celebrating the win.

Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/kyleringo.

Colorado 41, California 24

California 0 10 0 14--24

Colorado 3 21 3 14--41

First Quarter

Col -- FG Oliver 27, 3:02.

Second Quarter

Col -- Slavin 10 pass from Liufau (Oliver kick), 14:56.

Cal -- FG D'Amato 42, 8:25.

Cal -- Muhammad 55 run (D'Amato kick), 7:11.

Col -- T.Jones 10 pass from Liufau (Oliver kick), 2:40.

Col -- Powell 2 run (Oliver kick), :46.

Third Quarter

Col -- FG Oliver 24, :42.

Fourth Quarter

Col -- Adkins 63 pass from Liufau (Oliver kick), 12:22.

Cal -- Bigelow 1 run (D'Amato kick), 6:14.

Col -- Spruce 46 kickoff return (Oliver kick), 6:07.

Cal -- Bigelow 26 run (D'Amato kick), 1:23.

A -- 38,252.

Cal Col

First downs 23 23

Rushes-yards 34-197 38-121

Passing 214 364

Comp-Att-Int 26-52-1 23-36-1

Return Yards 12 2

Punts-Avg. 7-48.3 5-37.0

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 4-37 4-33

Time of Possession 27:19 32:36

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING -- California, Bigelow 15-107, Muhammad 10-78, Goff 6-9, Kline 3-3. Colorado, Powell 18-60, Adkins 9-39, T.Jones 8-22, Liufau 2-2, Team 1-(minus 2).

PASSING -- California, Goff 23-45-1-173, Kline 3-7-0-41. Colorado, Liufau 23-36-1-364.

RECEIVING -- California, Treggs 7-32, Lawler 6-81, Grisom 2-18, Muhammad 2-18, S.Anderson 2-17, C.Harper 2-10, Bigelow 2-7, Rodgers 1-20, Powe 1-6, Harris 1-5. Colorado, Richardson 11-140, Spruce 8-140, Adkins 1-63, T.Jones 1-10, Slavin 1-10, Goodson 1-1.