5 Takeaways: Colorado pulls away late, improves to 3-0

Mike Singer, CUSportsNation.com
CU Sports Nation

The Colorado Buffaloes came away victorious on Saturday against Northern Colorado 41-21, but the Bears played CU close throughout the game. CUSportsNation.com gives five takeaways from the game.

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1. Another sluggish start

Colorado went three and out on their first drive, and the UNC marched 70 yards in six plays, scoring the game's opening touchdown. The Buffs did rebound to lead the game 28-7, but UNC wouldn't go away. A 52 yard touchdown pass from Jacob Knipp to Alex Wesley cut Colorado's lead to 28-14 going into the locker room.

In any Pac-12 conference game, Colorado leading 28-14 at halftime would be welcomed. However, against a Big Sky opponent in Northern Colorado, the Buffs should have been able to jump to an early lead - but the opposite happened.

Colorado was never in jeopardy of losing this game and eventually ran away with it, but their inconsistent performance today on both sides of the ball is concerning as reigning Pac-12 champs Washington come to Boulder next week.

2. Tough outing for the Colorado secondary

On Northern Colorado's first score of the game, all-american cornerback Isaiah Oliver got beat for a touchdown - he seemed to slip, which allowed the separation. Trey Udoffia finished the game with just one tackle in the statbook, and if it weren't for multiple misfires, there would have been several completed passes on him.

Afolabi Laguda was having a nice first half but was called for targeting. He was ejected for the rest of the game, but since the targeting came in the first half, he will be able to play next week against Washington. On Northern Colorado's second touchdown, Wesley ran right by Oliver and safety Evan Worthington, and it seemed like a blown coverage on Worthington's part.

All in all, the Buffs' secondary looked flat in against an FCS offense that they should have been able to dominate.

3. Chunk plays hurt Colorado defense

Colorado had not allowed a touchdown through two games this season, but the Bears scored three on Saturday. All three were given up on chunk plays of 33, 52, and 27 yards through the air.

You can look at this as a glass is half full or half empty situation. It's concerning that the Buffs gave up these big scores, but there's a lot to teach from those plays and can be limited moving forward. Northern Colorado had four passes of 15+ yards and just one run of more than ten yards.

Is this a "Colorado played down to the level of their opponent" scenario? We'll find out a lot about this CU team next week.

4. This game could've been much closer

Northern Colorado had miscues that could've made this game much closer. Colorado's depth and talent proved to be too much as they controlled the fourth quarter but UNC had opportunities throughout the game.

Hakeem Deggs dropped an easy touchdown. The botched snap gave Colorado the ball at the five yard line, and Phillip Lindsay scored on the next play. The Bears had seven penalties called against them as well.

5. Penalties and turnovers

Man oh man. Colorado shot themselves in the foot over and over again.

Steven Montez had a great outing as he threw for 357 yards and four touchdowns on 29-of-41 passing and ran for 68 yards, but his interception occurred when Colorado was marching down the field - looking to score before halftime.

Evan Talley let the ball bounce off his leg, giving UNC the ball rather than CU taking over near midfield. The Buffs were driving in UNC territory when Michael Adkins fumbled on his lone carry of the game.

We hate to play the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" game, but these turnovers could've drastically changed the outcome of the game and given Colorado a much more comfortable victory.

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