The Colorado Buffaloes were scorned and scoffed at before the bizarre football season as the bottom-feeders of the Pac-12 Conference.
In a Boulderdash of an opener, the Buffs flabbergasted the UCLA Bruins 48-42 Saturday night before a minuscule gathering of family and friends at Folsom Field, and a stunned national television audience.
CU has won five games in each of the past three seasons.
The Buffaloes played superbly enough in their first game that they could win five games this season, and that achievement would be great enough to get them to the conference championship.
The Buffs play only seven games, and one could be for the title in December.
Forget about the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. How about the Running of the Buffaloes in Boulder, Colorado?
Led by semi-sophomore Jarek Broussard, who had never played a college football game and was No. 3 on the depth chart weeks ago, CU finished with 264 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the turf.
Broussard came from Texas to Colorado in 2018 advertised as a potential wide receiver. Then he was redshirted and tore his ACL and never saw the field last year.
But suddenly, Broussard transformed into Phillip Lindsay, who starred with the Buffs and now the Broncos, and Whizzer White, the most famous back of them all at Colorado.
Broussard was given the ball on 31 occasions, and he responded with 187 yards (6.0 average) with a longest run of 37 yards. And he scored three times from inside the 10. Broussard would have finished with more than 200 if he didn’t have to keep leaving the field for treatment of cramps.
As it was, Broussard brought the Bruin ruin. Along with Sam Noyer, who was starting his inaugural game as the Buffaloes’ quarterback in his fifth – yes – season in Boulder.
Noyer looked like he had been a starter for four previous years, but for most of his career with CU, he has been – get this– a safety back or a special teams player.
Noyer finally had enough after 2019 and decided to graduate and enter the transfer portal to earn a chance at another school.
But new coach Karl Dorrell, who was a story of his own Saturday night, and his staff talked Noyer into returning and competing for first string. Good thing Karl did and Sam did.
Noyer was Yesyer. He was accurate on 20 of 31 passes for 257 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. And he ran in imperative situations 13 times for 64 yards and a touchdown.
The Buffs steamed away to a 14-0 lead in the opening moments with a fumble recovery and an interception and actually was up by 28 points at one point over UCLA.
The Bruins had four turnovers during the evening, and the number probably should have been a half dozen.
But the formerly famed coach, Chip Kelly, urged his Bruins to reply, and they scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives in the second half.
However, the Buffs’ defense stopped the Bruins on two fourth downs late and held off the comeback.
It was revenge for Dorrell, who is now 1-0 in his own comeback as a head coach. He last had that particular job 13 years ago – at UCLA, where he played college ball.
Dorrell is in Colorado for the fourth time after being hired last February.
He was with CU as an assistant coach (and offensive coordinator) twice and served with the Broncos as a wide receivers coach during the Mike Shanahan era.
Even though he coached UCLA to bowls in five consecutive years, he was fired. Now it’s his turn to gloat.
Too bad Dorrell and the Buffs don’t have Michigan State and Mel Tucker (1-20) on the schedule this year. Tucker bolted Boulder after one season.
The Buffaloes are better off with Dorrell, who I first came to appreciate when he was in his 20s. He’s now 57 and settled in.
After all the coronavirus issues in Boulder, much like everyone else, the coach and the players prepared well.
The victory was real and spectacular. Too bad Ralphie and a full house couldn’t be there, because of COVID-19 regulations.
But the Buffs are off and running in the 2020 season.