CU opponent glance
Opponent: Oregon State Beavers
Game time: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., at Folsom Field in Boulder
Coach: Gary Andersen, 2nd season (3-12; 52-50 career)
Last week: Lost to Boise State, 38-24
Key players: WR Victor Bolden (13 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD; 6 kickoff returns, 241 yards, 1 TD); WR Seth Collins, So. (16 catches, 185 yards); CB Treston Decoud, Sr. (19 tackles, 2 interceptions); QB Darell Garretson, Jr. (51 of 86, 453 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT).
Notable: The Beavers’ lone victory this season came against Idaho State, 37-7. They lost their opener at Minnesota. … CU is 3-5 all-time against Oregon State, 1-2 since joining the Pac-12. … Oregon State won in its last trip to Boulder, 36-31, on Oct. 4, 2014, but CU won in Corvallis last season, 17-13. … Collins was the Beavers’ starting quarterback when the Buffs visited Corvallis last season. He left the team after the season, but returned as a receiver. …. Garretson is dealing with a sore leg, and walk-on Conor Blount played well in relief on Saturday. Bount played the second half against Boise State, completing 11 of 18 passes for 138 yards. … The Beavers are 0-11 against Power 5 conference teams under Andersen.
EUGENE, Ore. — When the Colorado football team was in its heyday, selling tickets to games at Folsom Field was a lot easier than it has been in recent years.
After Saturday’s 41-38 victory at Oregon, athletic director Rick George was caught in a wave of excitement like everybody else at Autzen Stadium, but he no doubt recognizes the potential financial impact of the victory.
“It’s an important win for us,” George said. “To get our third win, it’s right where we wanted to be. We needed a win like this, and I credit (head coach Mike MacIntyre) and the coaches and players. They were resilient. That’s a tough-minded ball team, and they played great today.”
Playing great has always been the key to Colorado increasing its ticket revenue, and it has been a long time since the Buffs have played great. While Oregon is no longer the national power it once was, beating the Ducks still carries a lot of weight with the CU fan base and the program in general.
Of course, several players tried to downplay the victory a bit, expressing their belief that this was one of many victories to come, but the countless hugs, smiles and tears by those in CU gear could not be ignored outside the visitor’s locker room Saturday evening.
“My emotions are on cloud nine right now,” said junior Ryan Moeller, a Colorado native who knows the program’s past struggles as well as anyone. “This is a super big win. This is a huge win, we’ve been talking and we knew we could do.
“You can downplay whatever you want, but we know that (the Ducks) are a good team. Historically they’re a good team. We came into the Pac-12 (in 2011) and we’ve had a hard time against them since. We know where we stand, and we know where we’ve been standing. We’re not knocking on doors anymore. We’re here. We’re bringing the fight, and we’re not going to roll over.”
Fans are taking notice, and it should be evident in the stands when the Buffs return to Folsom Field on Saturday to host Oregon State. The Buffs still have five home games to play, and the timing of the win against Oregon could not have been better.
It wasn’t just the victory that will go a long way towards winning over the fans, though. It’s the way the Buffs beat the Ducks.
CU stormed out to leads of 23-7 and 33-17 before the meltdown began. Two interceptions by quarterback Steven Montez helped Oregon go on a 21-0 run that, in less than eight minutes, turned a 16-point CU lead into a five-point deficit.
Fans had seen this before. During the past couple of years, the Buffs have mastered the art of turning victories into gut-wrenching defeats. They did it several times in 2014 and again in 2015, and did it again a week earlier at Michigan.
It was difficult to blame anyone for thinking another collapse was in process against the Ducks.
“It looked like it was happening,” MacIntyre said after the game, “but our kids didn’t feel like it was happening. I could see in their eyes they wanted to keep battling, keep going, keep competing, keep fighting.”
Sure enough, CU found a way to stop the bleeding. The Buffs rallied and made the winning the plays they needed. First it was Bryce Bobo’s miraculous one-handed touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone to give the lead back to the Buffs. Then it was Ahkello Witherspoon’s leaping interception in the other end zone to secure the win.
“They’ve got an uncommon attitude and soul,” MacIntyre said of his team.
After two years of talking about how their maturity and experience would pay off in a crucial situation, it finally did against the Ducks.
“It’s a proud feeling, because you sit back and you look at all the hard work we’ve done,” junior running back Phillip Lindsay said. “To see it finally pay off and see it in action, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.
“When you’re an older team, you don’t get rattled like that. You understand the ebbs and flows of the game. We had been dominating the whole game. It just showed that we’re grown up and you can get past (the rough patches).”
With eight games to play, the Buffs still have a lot of work to do to officially get past the rough times. They still need three more wins to secure bowl eligibility for the first time in nine years — and need a lot more than three wins to achieve their biggest goal.
“That’s just one for us, and our goal is to win a Pac-12 championship,” MacIntyre said. “I know a lot of people still laugh about it, but that’s what those young men believe. If we can’t believe, you can’t ever achieve it.
“We’ll see if we do (achieve it), but we’re definitely one step closer than I think 99 percent of people thought we’d be.”
After Saturday, there might be a lot more believers.
Brian Howell: Twitter: @BrianHowell33.