BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Like so many teams before them, the Colorado Buffaloes believed they could match Oregon step for speedy step.
They couldn’t. These days, very few can.
And while the second-ranked Ducks raced to a 57-16 romp over Colorado on Saturday night, at least there was this: The Buffaloes actually had a lead.
Two of them, to be precise. Very few can say that this season, either.
“We just missed out on a few things here and there,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “Of course, we got beat 57-16. We’re not happy about that one bit.”
The Buffaloes (2-2, 0-2 Pac-12) pulled out all the stops to stay with the high-flying Ducks, from an onside kick to open the game (didn’t work) to some trickery (a double-reverse that resulted in receiver Paul Richardson throwing a 75-yard TD pass).
In the end, Colorado couldn’t match the firepower of the Ducks (5-0, 2-0) as they accumulated 755 total yards, the second-most Colorado has ever surrendered.
Marcus Mariota led the way with five TD passes and added two more on short runs. That was in 2 1/2 quarters, too, because after his 26-yard TD pass to Josh Huff with 6:50 remaining in the third quarter — making it 57-16 — his night was done.
“He’s really, really good,” MacIntyre said.
The first-year coach then chuckled.
“That’s a stupid statement,” MacIntyre said. “A couple of plays he made tonight, come on, I don’t know what else we could do. That’s all there is to it. He’s a special player.”
Despite Mariota’s magical night, the Buffaloes hung right with Oregon early in the game. They were up 3-0 and 10-8, rare leads on a team that came into the game beating opponents by an average of almost 52 points.
About then, the Ducks began to resemble their smooth and speedy selves, taking the lead for good late in the first quarter and then scoring twice in a 58-second span to make it 29-10. Colorado had chances to close the gap, but settled for two field goals after driving deep into Oregon territory.
Settling field goals with the Ducks doesn’t exactly keep a team in a game for long.
Before long, the Buffs trailed 43-16 at halftime.
Asked about electing to kick field goals instead of going for it on fourth down early in the game, MacIntyre simply said: “Felt like we needed points to get some momentum.
“I felt like if we would’ve kept coming away with nothing, I felt it might have deflated us,” MacIntyre added. “We were still within 17, 20 points at that time. So I felt like we needed to do something there.”
Despite a slow start — at least by their standards — the Ducks have now scored at least 55 points in all of their games under first-year coach Mark Helfrich, a former offensive coordinator at Colorado.
“I liked the way we rallied,” Helfrich said. “I thought our defense played with a lot more urgency in the second half. We have a ton of room for improvement.”
Mariota was 16 of 27 for 355 yards with no interceptions and one sack. He also spread the wealth around as he threw two TD passes each to Bralon Addison and Huff.
“They’re fast in film and fast out there today,” MacIntyre said. “Oregon is a very good football team and fast like I thought they were.”
The Buffaloes’ biggest bugaboo came on converting third down opportunities, finishing 0 for 15. Connor Wood also completed just four passes in the second half.
Richardson had a big day, catching five passes for 134 yards. He also turned in a big play when running back Michael Adkins took the handoff and pitched to Richardson, who pulled up and connected with D.D. Goodson for a 75-yard touchdown that gave Colorado a 10-8 lead.
Richardson certainly made an impression with Helfrich.
“We played a little bit better as the day went on, but that guy, wow, a couple of the one-handed catches,” Helfrich said. “A very good football player.”
At halftime, the Buffaloes honored Bill McCartney, the program’s winningest coach who will be inducted into the college football Hall of Fame in December. McCartney gave a speech at midfield, surrounded by some of his former players.
“These guys right here got a chance to show what they can do,” said McCartney, whose name was painted on the field. “They are the ones who won these games. I just got to go along for the ride.”
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