In the wake of Saturday night’s 37-10 home loss to the Washington Huskies - a defeat that looked hauntingly similar to last December’s Pac-12 championship game in how the game played out – the Buffaloes were left to lament the what-ifs and look ahead to Saturday night’s divisional clash against UCLA at the Rose Bowl (8:30 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
Most notably, the latter.
The Buffs will travel outside the state of Colorado for the first time this season when they face the Bruins, who suffered a 58-34 loss to Stanford Saturday night in Palo Alto, Calif. in their first conference game, falling to 2-2 overall.
“It’ll be fun playing in the Rose Bowl and playing against UCLA,” Mike MacIntyre said during his post-game press conference. “They’re a really good football team. They’ve got a great quarterback. Last time I went down there, it was a crazy game. We gained all kind of yards, but lost. Last year’s game was unique. There were a lot of penalties and a lot of different things. It’ll be a heck of a football game.”
Together, Buffs' QB Steven Montez and UCLA’s Josh Rosen combined to complete 70.1 percent (61-87) of their passes for 651 yards and three touchdowns this past weekend, but also tossed five interceptions – two by Rosen, a career high three by Montez.
CU’s redshirt sophomore signal caller from El Paso, Tex. became the 21st quarterback in CU history to eclipse 2,000 career passing yards - ending the night with 2,046 - but that milestone offered little solace in the aftermath of the Buffs’ first loss of the season and just the fifth since the start of the 2016 season (13-5).
Clearly, a major storyline for Saturday’s game is which quarterback does a better job shaking off the sluggishness of this past weekend, and bouncing back with a winning performance.
The stakes are high considering the loser falls to 0-2 in the conference and could find themselves 2.5 games behind division leader USC if the Trojans prevail over undefeated Washington State in Pullman Friday night.
The key, MacIntyre said, is keep preparing as best you can and trying to play well every week. Most Pac-12 teams still have eight games remaining on the 2017 schedule, so anything can happen. Colorado has yet to face a divisional rival. UCLA is the first one on Saturday night in Pasadena.
“You keep playing because you never know what’s going to happen,” MacIntyre said. “Everybody will beat up everybody. This is the best team in the North (division) that we’ll play and they’re a really good football team and really well coached. They beat us (Saturday). We’ve got some things to work on and improve on just like every game. When something happens, they (UW) make you pay for it. That’s what good teams do. We do that too. We’ll do that at different times this year too.”
Stanford destroyed the UCLA defense on the ground, rushing for 405 yards, 263 by Bryce Love, the Pac-12’s leading rusher by a wide margin. CU’s Phillip Lindsay, who became the Buffs all-time receptions leader by a running back, is third after four weeks at 111.5 yards per game.
After Saturday’s game, the Buffs vowed to quickly put the highly anticipated Pac-12 championship game rematch behind them, and start focusing on for the Bruins.
“We have to get back to work,” MacIntyre said. “This was the first of nine (games), so we have to keeping finding ways to improve. We will. You can’t afford to make mistakes in any Pac-12 football game. We have to find a way to fix it and get ready to fight again next Saturday. They’ll bounce back and get ready to go. We have another one quickly. We have a ton (of games) in a row here, so we’ll just keep playing.”
Colorado had not allowed a point in the fourth quarter this season until Washington pulled away with 13 points in the final period. The final seven points came on a 57-yard TD run by Gaskins midway through the fourth quarter.
“We have to learn how to finish as a team,” Buffs defensive back Afolabi Laguda said. “This was our first test in the Pac-12 and we dropped the ball. We just have to keep moving forward and keep practicing hard. Good things will come of it.”
Unlike a year ago when CU had to wait nearly a month to play another game following the loss to the Huskies in the Pac-12 championship game, the Buffs have five days to get ready to play again.
“It’s definitely humbling when you take a L,” Laguda said. “You just have to keep pushing, and we’ll do that. I think we’ll bounce back. We’ll practice hard this week and see how the chips fall next Saturday.”
-- Due to the wet conditions, Ralphie did not run before the game. It was the eighth time since 1999, third time in the last three seasons, CU’s beloved mascot hasn’t run before a game. According to the CU sports information department, Saturday marked just the third time since 2006 Folsom Field had seen rain during a Buffs home game.
-- Washington RB Myles Gaskin (27 carries for 202 yards) is the first player to rush for over 200 yards against CU since Arizona’s Jared Baker did so on Oct. 17, 2015 (23‐207).
-- Drew Lewis became the first Buff since Greg Biekert in 1990 to record 10 tackles in each of the first four starts of his career.
WEEK 4 PAC-12 RESULTS
Utah 30, Arizona 24
USC 30, California 20
Washington State 45, Nevada 7
Washington 37, Colorado 10
Arizona State 37, Oregon 35
Stanford 58, UCLA 34
PAC-12 SOUTH STANDINGS
Arizona State 1-0
Thomas loved Colorado official visit https://t.co/ALbIDRRoHf
— CUSportsNation (@CUSportsNation) September 24, 2017
WATCH: MacIntyre, CU players post-game press conference https://t.co/nCgrxBCo7X
— CUSportsNation (@CUSportsNation) September 24, 2017