2-Minute Drill

Turning point: Late in the third quarter CSU started a 12-play, 92-yard drive for the go-ahead score, a touchdown pass from Garrett Grayson to wide receiver Rashard Higgins

Notable number: 266. The number of rushing yards CSU accumulated in the game. The Rams' ability to run made all the difference because the passing game was largely inneffective in the first half.

Difference maker: CSU running back Dee Hart, a transfer from Alabama set the tone with several hard runs in the second quarter that probably led CSU coaches to stick more with the run after halftime.

Injuries: Michael Adkins (ankle) day to day.


DENVER — New season. Same old problem. The Colorado Buffaloes can't stop the run.

Not even close.

College football teams that fail to go to bowl games generally don't confront the reality until October or November.

While it's still entirely possible for the Buffs to win six games this fall and become bowl eligible, those prospects took a big hit Friday night when CU lost its season opener to in-state rival Colorado State 31-17 in the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

CSU rolled up 266 yards on the ground with running backs Dee Hart and Treyous Jarrells accounting for most of the damage against a CU defense that finished last season ranked 108th nationally against the run. It was one yard shy of the most rushing yards CU has ever allowed CSU in a game and it came in front of 63,363, the largest crowd to see the rivalry since 2008.


Hart ran 22 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Jarrells ran 17 times for 121 yards and a score. All of it came behind an offensive line that was supposed to be the big question mark for CSU entering the season. Coach Jim McElwain was replacing four starters and his most experienced lineman, tackle Ty Sambrailo, left the game with an injured knee.

The loss means the Buffs will have to win at least four games in the Pac-12 Conference to reach a bowl — assuming they beat UMass and Hawaii in the remaining nonconference games. CU has won a total of four Pac-12 games in its previous three seasons in the league combined and lost six times in league play last season by 20 or more points.

It's a steep, uphill climb the Buffs are facing to say the least. And it's unlikely to happen if the defense can't plug its holes.

"I think a lot of it was missed tackles," Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Some were in the backfield, quite a few times. So we just got to keep working and keep improving. We'll look at it on film and see exactly what happened there. I think we got cut out the gaps a couple times. Sometimes they came free and instead of going flat down the line, they went up the line and they sprung it on us. So we'll look at it and figure out what's going on."

While the Rams rolled on the ground. The Buffs struggled to run the ball, a familiar storyline for this program throughout numerous losing seasons now. CU totaled 134 rushing yards, led by Michael Adkins' 68 yards on 16 carries.

CU quarterback Sefo Liufau was brutally honest in his assessment of how the Buffs gave up a double-digit lead and failed to respond to the Rams' rally

"It's kind of something new to me and you never want to say this, but I think most of the second half we got outplayed in all phases," Liufau said. "That rides on the captains' shoulders. I'm going to put that on us, especially myself being offensive captain and quarterback.

"So I just think we got outplayed most of the second half."

Colorado jumped to a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the game when Liufau found wide receiver Nelson Spruce deep down the west sideline for a 54-yard touchdown pass. It was one of two touchdown catches for Spruce. He also made a stellar one-handed grab in the second half.

The Buffs held that advantage into the second quarter when they drove to the CSU 2-yard line. Running back Christian Powell pushed forward to the 1-yard line on first down and was stuffed for no gain on second down. Redshirt freshman Phillip Lindsay's first career carry went for no gain on third down and Will Oliver kicked a 23-yard field goal to give CU a two-score advantage at 10-0.

The Rams drove 76 yards on their ensuing possession and scored their first touchdown of the season on an 8-yard run by running back Dee Hart, an Alabama transfer. CU defensive back Ken Crawley was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and pass interference on the drive.

The Buffs reclaimed the momentum early in the second half when redshirt freshman defensive end Derek McCartney made the first big play of his career. McCartney sacked CSU quarterback Garrett Grayson and forced a fumble the Buffs recovered.

Liufau capped the ensuing drive by hitting Spruce in the back corner of the end zone. It was downhill from there for CU.

The Rams returned the ensuing kickoff to their 46-yard line and needed seven plays to reach the end zone for the second time. Jarrells scored on a 3-yard run up the middle. It was the first of four consecutive CSU scores and a run of 24 unanswered points that won the game.

Senior defensive lineman Jida Parker said CSU didn't do anything the Buffs hadn't prepared for. He said CU defenders weren't worn down by the Rams running game.

"It's tough, when the coaches put us in the right places and we didn't execute as good as we should," Parker said. "There were certain things where we were getting cut off, those cut blocks and backers not rocking back and things like that. We prepared for this all week and it didn't' go our way, and it's tough."

MacIntyre was asked how concerned he is about his defense.

"We'll just keep getting better," MacIntyre said. "We're really young. We'll keep fighting hard and keep fighting. That's all you can do. It's one game."

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @kyleringo.