Buffs Fall Short Against Longhorns In Alamo Bowl
SAN ANTONIO — Colorado couldn't keep up with Texas' firepower Tuesday night, but the Buffaloes did get a great look at their possible quarterback of the future in a 55-23 Alamo Bowl loss to the Longhorns.
The Buffs wrapped up their first season under Karl Dorrell at 4-2 while Texas improved to 7-3.
One of the bright spots of the night for the Buffs was the debut performance of quarterback Brendon Lewis. The true freshman made his first appearance for Colorado and engineered three touchdown drives for the Buffaloes in relief of starter Sam Noyer, who threw two interceptions in the first quarter.
But overall, the Buffs — who were missing a number of players because of injuries and other issues — couldn't keep pace with the Longhorns after a close first half. The Buffs trailed 17-10 at halftime, but two quick Texas touchdowns in the third quarter put the Buffs in a hole they could not overcome.
Texas finished with 638 yards offense (335 passing, 303 rushing) while the Buffs had 378 (196 passing, 182 on the ground).
"I was expecting us to play better than that," Dorrell said. "I was expecting to be more competitive. I was expecting a lot of it to be better than what it looked like. It just shows me I have a tremendous amount of work to do. This game tells me how much further we have to go.
CU fell behind by two touchdowns early, as Texas scored on two of its first three possessions. Colorado then rallied to close the gap to 17-10 by intermission, only to see Texas score two more quick touchdowns in the third quarter to regain control for good.
Lewis finished 6-for-10 for 95 yards passing and he also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. CU's Jarek Broussard carried 27 times for 82 yards and two scores and Dimitri Stanley had four catches for 86 yards.
Texas backup quarterback Casey Thompson, who replaced injured starter Sam Ehlinger to start the second half, threw for 170 yards and four scores. UT running back Bijan Robinson carried 10 times for 183 yards and a touchdown.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Texas threatened to turn the game into a runaway early, scoring touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, driving 74 and 89 yards for scores. With 5:28 still left in the first quarter, Texas held a 14-0 lead and the Buffs were on their heels.
But the Colorado defense found its footing and turned the Longhorns away on their next four possessions, giving the Buffs offense an opportunity to find its rhythm.
After six empty possessions, including two that ended on interceptions by Noyer, Colorado finally hit paydirt behind the direction of Lewis. The true freshman directed a 10-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that saw CU convert two third downs. Broussard ran for 8 yards on third-and-3 and Lewis connected with Stanley for a 26-yard gain — Lewis' first collegiate pass attempt — on third-and-8 to put Colorado at the Texas 2-yard line.
CU then went nowhere on three straight runs. But instead of settling for a field goal, Dorrell elected to go for the touchdown on fourth down and Broussard delivered with a terrific second- and third-effort drive to the end zone, taking on five UT defenders in the process. Evan Price's PAT pulled the Buffs to within 14-7 with 6:58 left in the second quarter.
After punts by both teams, Texas finally scored again, getting a 52-yard field goal after a third-down sack by Colorado's Mustafa Johnson stopped a Texas march.
But Colorado quickly answered. Noyer returned to the huddle and directed a 53-yard drive that finished with a 40-yard Price field goal, sending CU into the locker room at the half trailing 17-10.
That, though, was as close as the Buffs could get. The Longhorns needed just two plays to score on the opening drive of the third quarter, getting a 13-yard scoring pass from Thompson.
The Buffs then had their next possession end in a missed field goal and Texas responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive for a 31-10 lead.
UT added another field goal late in the quarter before Lewis came in again for Noyer and directed a 75-yard Colorado touchdown drive. Lewis threw 25 yards to Stanley and ran for 44 on the march before Broussard notched his second touchdown of the night, a 3-yard run. CU's two-point pass attempt fell incomplete and CU trailed 34-16.
Texas pushed its lead to 25 points just seconds into the fourth quarter on another Thompson touchdown throw, but Colorado answered again behind Lewis. The CU freshman completed three passes for 40 yards, then scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 2-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive and pull the Buffs to within 41-23.
The Longhorns, though, quickly responded with a long Thompson touchdown throw to push their lead to 48-23, then added another score after a CU fumble for a 55-23 lead to close the scoring for the game.
"This was a good measuring stick about how far we need to go," Dorrell said. "We need to put our head down and get to work in this offseason and keep improving week after week, day after day, and continue to build this team, build their confidence, build their physical skill sets. There's a lot of things we need to do, but it starts with working hard and having a good mindset going into this offseason."
TURNING POINT: After the Buffs closed to within 17-10 with a field goal just before the half, UT opened the third quarter with a two-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to regain control and the Buffs could never close the gap again.
KEY STATISTIC: Texas averaged 9.4 yards per play on offense while the Buffs managed just 4.8 per play … All seven of Texas' touchdown drives took less than three minutes.
WHAT IT MEANS: After a 4-0 start, the Buffs finished by dropping their last two, sending them into the offseason with a clear barometer of how far they need to go in order to compete for a conference title.
NEXT UP: Next up for the Buffs will be their first spring ball session under Karl Dorrell.