Colorado comes up short against Jayhawks
BOULDER, Colo. - On a blustery day in Boulder it seems fitting that the flags around Folsom Field have quit whipping. With 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter and down 19-14, the Buffs were primed to make a march down the field to score the game winning touchdown. Alas the wind was taken from the Buffs sails as the No. 15 Kansas Jayhawks walked away from Boulder with a five point win.
The Buffs final drive was earmarked with two timeouts and decent field position on their own 46-yard line. On first down the Buffs elected to pass and quarterback Cody Hawkins ended up on his back for a five yard loss. On second down CU once again had bullets in the gun and a large enough foot as Hawkins mishandled the snap and immediately put the Buffs in third down and long.
In two-down territory with 3rd and 18 and after burning one of their timeouts, the Buffs knew they had to throw the ball. Hawkins nearly got picked off on third down, which would have been his third of the game for the second straight game, but the pass slipped through the fingers of a Kansas' Justin Thornton.
On fourth down Colorado coach Dan Hawkins sent his talented freshman wide receiver, Josh Smith deep down the sideline hoping to keep the game alive. Instead the ball trickled through the open arms of Smith and Kansas ran out the clock.
"They were confident, I was confident," said Kansas head coach Mark Mangino about his defense on CU's final drive. "When they jogged out there on the field, even though they were a little tired, I thought they had a little swagger to them."
The Jayhawks trailed for only a 1:20 in the game when CU scored its first touchdown midway through the third quarter to make it 7-3. Colorado running back Hugh Charles had his string of four consecutive 100-yard rushing games snapped as the Keller, Texas native gained only 39 yards on 11 carries.
"I thought that our defense made plays when they had to," Mangino said. "Our defense stopped the run and forced them to pass."
The Buffs for the second straight week against a Kansas opponent seemed to abandon the running game when they found themselves trailing. In playing catch-up for most of the game the Buffs only rushed for 66 yards on 33 attempts. Kansas has held all three of its Big 12 opponents this year to less than 100 yards on the ground.
"They're a good football team, they are," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said. "Anytime you are that efficient, and you don't make mistakes you're good. They were very solid all the way around.
Being undefeated for Kansas is a little unfamiliar territory as the team had not put back-to-back road wins in the same season together since the 1995 season when they beat this same Colorado team and Oklahoma.
Hawkins spoke in the post game news conference about the efficiency at which the Jayhawks were able to play and he was right. Kansas completed 20-29 passing attempts for 153 yards and a touchdown; they were also able to hash out 180 yards on the ground on 33 attempts.
Perhaps the biggest level of efficiency for the Jayhawks was in their redzone performance. In three attempts within side the the 20-yard line Kansas converted on all three, getting two tochdowns and a field goal. The Buffs made good on only one of their two attempts.
The win gave the Jayhawks a seven-game winning streak which is their longest since they won seven straight in 1995. The Buffalo defense played well enough to win as they forced two fumbles and were able to get CU's offense the ball back late in the fourth quarter.
"It's not about being close," Hawkins said. "I like our guys' effort and heart and all of that. They've shown that time and time again and I don't question that at all. But just like all of us every single day in our jobs, you're just trying to get that much closer to perfection and chase it."
Kansas' 50.3 scoring average was held under 20 points, but their top 10 overall defense kept the pressure on a young Colorado quarterback all night. Hawkins' two interception give him 14 on the season, which is just two away from tying former CU quarterback John Hessler's school record of 16 set back in 1997. CU's 18 turnovers on the season is good enough for 102th in the nation; their turnover percentage is a woeful -1.14 per game.
"We turned the ball over a couple of times there and put our defense at a disadvantage," Hawkins said. "We have to figure out this turnover thing."
The win moves Kansas into sole possession of the Big 12 North (7-0, 3-0 in Big 12) and Colorado (4-4, 2-2 in Big 12) into fourth place behind Missouri and Kansas State.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing. Reesing was 20-29 for 153 yards and a touchdown, in addition to his achievements through the air, he led the Jayhawks in rushing with 84 yards on 7 carries. Kansas was bailed out on several occasions with Reesing improvising on third downs.
PLAY OF THE GAME: On fourth and 18 from their own 34-yard line Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins stepped back to pass when he saw a streaking Josh Smith down the CU sideline. Smith amidst two defenders found a small window and had an opportunity to catch the Hawkins pass. The ball sailed through Smith's awaiting arms and sealed the win for the Jayhawks.
Colorado will travel to Lubbock, Texas next week to take on the 6-2 Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kansas will also be in the Lone Star State as they will face off against the 6-2 Texas A&M Aggies.
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