Through wins and losses this season, Colorado’s football players have stated they treat every week the same.
That might be true in how the Buffaloes prepare, but there’s no question this week will feel different.
Saturday’s 16-13 victory against Stanford at Folsom Field ended a five-game losing streak for the Buffs (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12), who go into this week’s bye with a jolt of confidence.
“It’s huge for the mindset and the confidence of this team,” junior linebacker Nate Landman said. “I think this game is going to be able to boost that confidence going into this bye week and into the next week.”
The victory kept bowl hopes alive for the Buffs, who must win their last two to have a chance at playing in December. Up next is Washington (6-4, 3-4) at Folsom Field on Nov. 23, followed by a trip No. 8 Utah (8-1, 5-1).
The Buffs are afforded an opportunity to enjoy a win first, though.
“It’s been a tough stretch for us and it’s always good to be left hand column,” head coach Mel Tucker said. “We’re going to enjoy it because it was a victory that was earned. Our guys prepared well and they fought for it and we got what we wanted today.
“When you play for each other, you’re unselfish and you have the discipline to do your job, then good things are going to happen. We’re going to go into our bye and we’re going to improve our football team through practice and get ready for Washington.”
Grinding it out
CU’s final numbers on offense weren’t impressive, with 16 points, 358 yards. The Buffs had just 123 yards in the second half.
The Buffs were effective on offense in the fourth quarter, however, after getting behind, 13-10, with 14 minutes, 5 seconds to play. From that point, CU had possession for 12:31, compared to 1:34 for Stanford.
CU had a 14-play, 69-yard drive that took 6:31 off the clock before a game-tying field goal. Then, the Buffs had a 13-play, 61-yard drive that took the final 6:00 of the clock before Evan Price’s game-winning field goal.
“It was good to see,” Tucker said of the offense coming through late in the game. “The discipline to do your job and execute and everyone working together. Just to do your job and trust that if you do your job, the man next to you is going to do his job. That’s how you’re able to put drives together, move the ball. It was poise, patience.
“It was really a physical football game and we were able to step up in the fourth quarter and get some physical runs and finish in some short yardage situations, move the chains. It was really good to see.”
On the first possession of the fourth, Buffs’ running back Alex Fontenot ran seven times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard run on fourth-and-1. On the final possession, the Buffs converted third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 situations with the run game.
The biggest of those came on fourth-and-1 with 65 seconds to play. Laviska Shenault took the handoff and bowled over Stanford safety Stuart Head to get the first down.
“I’ve said it every week, he’s a tough kid and he cares about this team,” Tucker said. “He’s going to give us what he’s got. He’s going to show up for us. That was a prime example. Big time players make big time plays in crunch time and that’s what that was.”
Stanford coach David Shaw was impressed with Shenault, as well.
“That doggone No. 2,” Shaw said. “He’s a special player and we had a chance to tackle him a couple times, but we just couldn’t get him on the ground. If we stop him on that fourth down, we have a chance to win the game. He made more plays than we did.”
CU had its sixth fumble-free game of the season on Saturday. The Buffs have fumbled just seven times on the year, losing two (both on kickoff returns). CU’s running backs – Alex Fontenot, Jaren Mangham, Deion Smith and Joe Davis – have combined for one fumble (zero lost) in 311 touches this season. … With a first quarter rushing touchdown, Buffs QB Steven Montez has been responsible for 71 career touchdowns – one shy of the school record of 72 set by Sefo Liufau.