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Buffs Defense Paves Way For Win Over San Diego State

Nov 28, 2020

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BOULDER — Colorado's defense stifled San Diego State all night long and the Buffaloes produced just enough offense Saturday to record a 20-10 win over the Aztecs at Folsom Field.

Karl Dorrell's Buffs improved to 3-0 in his first season at the helm and CU became bowl eligible for the first time since 2016. SDSU fell to 3-3 in a game that was scheduled Thursday night after both teams' original opponents were unable to play because of Covid-19 issues.

CU's offense scored two touchdowns in the first half, then leaned on the defense to wrap up the win. San Diego State's only touchdown came via an interception return late in the second quarter.

Led by linebacker Nate Landman, coordinator Tyson Summers' defense held SDSU's offense to just one field goal while throttling the Aztecs' run and pass games. San Diego State finished with just 155 yards total offense and converted just four of 17 third down attempts. CU recorded four sacks, with Landman nailing down three of them. Linebacker Carson Wells has four tackles for loss as Colorado finished the night with 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Offensively, the Buffs got a third straight 100-yard effort from Jarek Broussard, who carried 32 times for 124 yards. CU quarterback Sam Noyer threw for 138 yards and one touchdown and also ran for one, and wide receiver La'Vontae Shenault had six catches for 64 yards.

"It was a good win for us," said Dorrell, whose team had just one day to prepare a game plan for the Aztecs. "Our players did a great job with handling the information we did have. Our defense played outstanding."

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado dominated the game for the first 27 minutes. The Buffs drove 83 yards in 16 plays for a touchdown on their first possession of the game, then added a 13-play, 63-yard touchdown march in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead with 4:50 left in the half.

Colorado did most of its damage on the ground, hammering the Aztecs with a steady dose of Broussard, who had 69 yards rushing in the first half. Broussard ripped off gains of 19 and 16 yards on CU's first possession, while Noyer also found Shenault for a pair of completions on the drive, setting up a Noyer 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal.

The Buffs then bumped their lead to 14-0 with another long drive in the second quarter, one extended by a couple of critical penalties on the Aztecs. Noyer improvised a nice shovel toss to Jaylon Jackson for a 3-yard touchdown pass to complete the drive.

CU's defense, meanwhile, stuffed the Aztecs at every opportunity for most of the half. When the Buffs forced a San Diego State three-and-out after CU's second touchdown, the Buffs had possession at midfield, 3:29 on the clock and what appeared to be an opportunity to deal a knockout blow.

Instead, the momentum turned in a flash when Noyer's second interception of the year proved to be a costly one. SDSU's Darren Hall stepped in front of K.D. Nixon on a sideline route and perfectly read Noyer's throw. Hall grabbed the ball and raced untouched to the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown return to cut CU's lead to 14-7.

Colorado then recorded a three-and-out and punted, and the Aztecs came up with just enough offense to put themselves in position for a 48-yard field goal just before half. That sent CU into the locker room nursing a 14-10 lead at intermission.

CU's offense struggled in the second half, managing to produce just a pair of field goals. The first came after a 42-yard march midway through the third quarter, when Evan Price's 36-yard kick gave the Buffs a 17-10 lead. The second came with 9:34 left in the game when Price was good from 41 yards out to give Colorado a two-score lead, 20-10.

But the Colorado defense never let SDSU capitalize on its momentum from the first half. San Diego State failed to reach inside the Colorado 20 even once all night, and the most the Aztecs could manage in the second half were a pair of long field goal attempts that both missed their mark.

Saturday's performance should be a huge confidence boost for a defense that had played well in the first half of CU's first two wins, but had given up 51 points in two second halves.

"The attitude and energy on the sidelines was great," Landman said. "We knew the offense was struggling a little. I thought today we finished."

TURNING POINT: After being dominated for the majority of the first half, SDSU seized momentum with 10 points in the final 3:29 of the half. But the Buffs regained control midway through the third quarter when a Landman sack forced a San Diego punt and the Buffs took the kick and marched 42 yards for a field goal and 17-10 lead.

CU STANDOUTS: Senior ILB Nate Landman was credited with 11 tackles and three sacks … Junior OLB Carson Wells had five tackles, including four for loss … Safety Derrion Rakestraw had seven tackles … Sophomore RB Jarek Broussard had his third straight 100-yard game, finishing with 124 yards on 32 attempts … Redshirt freshman WR La'Vontae Shenault had a career-high six catches for 64 yards.

KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs held SDSU to 155 yards total offense and 4-for-17 on third-down conversions.

WHAT IT MEANS: With three wins and three games remaining, the unbeaten Buffs are now bowl eligible for the first time since 2016 — and equally importantly, remain in contention for the Pac-12 South title.

NEXT UP: The Buffs play at Arizona next Saturday, Dec. 5. Game time will be announced Sunday.