BOULDER • Never in 582 weekends before had both the Broncos and the Buffaloes been shut out.
The Buffs were blanked 28-0 on Oct. 21 by Washington State. The Broncs were torpedoed and zeroed by the Chargers the next day 21-0.
The Broncos should be inspired by Colorado’s blastoff on Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field.
CU scored its highest point total (44) and had its most complete game of the season against a team not named Texas State. The Buffs dominated California as quarterback Steven Montez returned superbly from being dumped and benched the previous week in the Washington State blowout.
“It may have been a blessing,” Montez said, that he was removed as starter. “I felt I had a chip on my shoulder and needed to get back to what I did to get that job.” Slinging the football around and down the field in the tradition of Brett Favre, the Colorado quarterback completed a 65-yard pass for a touchdown and two more scores for 22 and 23 yards, and he ran for a 7-yard score, in leading the Buffs to a critical victory that keeps them on a possible path to a bowl.
“We needed a win bad — especially at home,” Mike MacIntyre said. Especially after a bad loss.
The CU coach admitted that his decision to take Montez out in the second half of the game at Washington State produced the proper response. Montez said the demotion “put a fire under me.”
Montez finished 20 of 26 for 347 yards, with three TDs and no interceptions. Phillip Lindsay added to his school record of all-purpose yards (5,456) with 161 yards on 33 carries and 23 yards on a couple of catches.
“I have a man crush on Phillip,” MacIntyre said. “You think with all the great running backs that have been in Boulder, he’s the only one with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.”
The pride of Denver South is doing his fair share for the Buffs and the Lindsay family. His father Troy was a running back I covered in the 1980s when he played at Colorado State. Two cousins played for Oklahoma State’s, and Phantasy Phil has brothers who are running backs at Colorado colleges — Zachary, a red-shirt junior at Northern Colorado, and freshman Marcus at CSU-Pueblo.
Even though the younger guys are backups who rarely run, the Lindsay Trio has to be the best band of brothers in NCAA football this season, given that the 1,253 rushing yards by the "Tasmanian Devil" or "TD" Phillip is more than the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
Rashaan Salaam’s number (19) became only the fourth retired by CU on Saturday, and Lindsay honored him in fitting fashion, running for more than 100 yards for the fifth time this season. He won’t reach Salaam’s 2,000-plus plateau, but, if he pushes the current pace, and if the Buffs can get to a bowl, Lindsay could end his career with approximately 1,900 yards rushing this season — and be the first CU player with 1,000 yards in runs and receptions in one season.
And if the offensive performances of Montez and Lindsay weren’t exacting enough, free safety Nick Fisher put the Luxardo Maraschino on top 2:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bears still were within range of the Buffs with the ball at the CU 11 when Cal QB Ross Bowers threw directly to Fisher in the end zone. Fisher picked off the pass 7 yards deep, circled back 2 yards — “I thought he was going to take a knee,” MacIntyre said — and took off on a marathon run along the east sideline stripe.
The NCAA only permits maximum 100-yard interceptions. That body of work by Fisher will suffice.
The 5-4 Buffs need one victory in the three remaining games to qualify for a lesser bowls affiliated with the Pac-12. It’s not 2016, and Colorado won’t be in the conference championship, but four straight would be unique, and Arizona State, Southern Cal and Utah are vulnerable.
And the recovery for the Buffs from the meltdown is special.
The Broncos should take heed.
That 582-week run without a double zilch for the Denver-Boulder teams goes back to the Broncos’ first season in 1960.
Trevor Siemian must go all Steven Montez on the Chiefs, and either C.J. Anderson or Jamaal Charles have to emulate Lindsay if the Broncos are to duplicate the Boulderites.
Shutout to shout out.