DENVER (AP) -- Last year in their annual showdown with their
in-state rival, Colorado's defensive backs were burned for
touchdown passes of 52, 42, 34 and 30 yards.
It's surprising that Colorado was able to dominate this game to the extent that it did. Part of that had to do with the tough, rough start of Colorado State's young quarterback, D.J. Busch.
Busch threw a pick-six -- an interception taken back for a score -- and he also had his first pass picked off, setting up Colorado's first score.
For the Buffaloes, the good news is that they got back to their power running game. Although Marcus Houston didn't play, Colorado got good production out of Bobby Purify and Chris Brown. That's what Gary Barnett really wants to establish. The ground game took some pressure off QB Craig Ochs, who threw that critical last-minute interception against Fresno State.
What you saw Saturday was Colorado getting back to basics and gaining some needed confidence.
In Saturday's rematch, the Colorado secondary returned fire,
making four interceptions, two of which were returned for
touchdowns and one of which set up another score in a 41-14 rout of
No. 24 Colorado State.
"A year ago the secondary gave up four big plays," Colorado
coach Gary Barnett said. "This year they made four big plays. We
were able to limit their running game enough to where we forced
them to throw it."
Defensive backs Donald Strickland and Michael Lewis returned
interceptions 31 and 41 yards, respectively, for scores as Colorado
avenged two straight losses to Colorado State.
"They torched our secondary last year," Lewis said. "We had a
little bit of a revenge factor going into this game. I had my guy
covered. If they threw it to him, I was thinking I was going to
take it to the house."
Strickland said he "got a good read off the quarterback's
eyes" on his theft early in the game. "After I got it, all I
could see was open field. It got our team off to an excellent
In a dominating performance, the Buffaloes (1-1) outgained the
Rams (0-1) 410-294 before 75,022 at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Bobby Purify ran for 191 yards and Chris Brown added 121 for
Colorado, which finished with 315 yards rushing. Brown scored twice
on 1-yard runs, and Purify had an 18-yard TD run. Craig Ochs
completed 15-of-18 passes for 95 yards.
Ochs departed in the fourth quarter with a 34-14 lead, spending
the rest of the game on the sideline with ice applied to a slightly
sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Colorado overcame a trying week during which the players and
coaches were widely criticized after a season-opening 24-22 loss to
Fresno State and running back Marcus Houston complained of
disparaging remarks made by an athletic department official.
The developments proved not to be a distraction, as Strickland
returned his interception less than a minute into the game and
Purify added a scoring run for a 14-0 lead.
Sophomore D.J. Busch, starting his first game for Colorado
State, threw a 3-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Joel
Dreessen later in the quarter to make it 14-7, but the Rams got no
closer, being outscored 27-7 the remainder of the game.
"Our kids withstood all the firestorms of the last week,"
Barnett said. "I don't think they were distracted at all with what
went on. We stayed together and stayed focused."
Busch, who threw three of the Rams' interceptions, said he
"made some bad reads and it cost us. You can't guess on coverages.
I did on that first interception, and it changed the whole
Rams coach Sonny Lubick said he was disappointed in his team's
tackling in the second half, adding, "My hat's off to Colorado.
They played fairly flawlessly for most of the game."
Ochs completed 10-of-12 passes in the first half as Colorado
took a 17-7 lead.
Strickland intercepted Busch's underthrown pass and returned it
31 yards with 14:04 left in the opening period.
The Buffaloes went up 14-0 midway through the period with a
75-yard drive, capped by Purify's 18-yard run when he darted up the
middle and then cut to the left sideline.
The Buffs were penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration on
the extra point, but Jeremy Flores kicked the long PAT.
Later in the quarter, a Colorado gamble backfired. On a fake
punt from the Colorado 34, Scott Nemeth took the short snap and
threw incomplete. The Rams capitalized, scoring four plays later.
Henri Childs broke off a 16-yard run, and Busch hit Dreessen
with 3:13 left in the quarter.
Colorado marched 79 yards for Flores' 21-yard field goal in the
CSU crossed midfield on both of its possessions in the period,
but a sack and a false-start penalty stymied both drives.
Midway through the third period, Busch, being dragged down by
linebacker Sean Tufts, threw another interception, and Lewis
returned it 41 yards for a 24-7 lead. Flores kicked another long
PAT after a second excessive-celebration penalty.
Brown ran for 35 yards and Purify for 28 to set up Brown's
1-yard scoring run late in the quarter.
Bradlee Van Pelt, replacing Busch, drove the Rams for their only
other score, throwing a 7-yard TD pass to Childs early in the final
After a Colorado field goal, Lewis' second interception set up
Brown's second TD.