TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Sefo Liufau has his groove back, and so does Colorado’s offense.
It came at just the right time for the Buffaloes with a season-defining stretch up next.
Liufau passed for three touchdowns and ran for another, helping No. 16 Colorado roll over Arizona 49-24 on Saturday night for the Buffaloes’ first four-game winning streak in 14 years.
The victory keeps Colorado (8-2, 7-1 Pac-12, No. 12 CFP) atop the Pac-12 South with games against No. 23 Washington State and No. 13 Utah coming up to close out the regular season.
“We’re right where we want to be,” Lifau said.
Liufau was sharp after being banged up against UCLA, hitting 19 of 27 passes for 213 yards, including two touchdowns to Shay Fields. Liufau also ran for a 2-yard score.
Phillip Lindsay ran for 119 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Buffaloes to their best start since opening the 2001 season 8-2.
“It felt great, especially with the passing game; it has not been there,” Fields said. “It’s something we stressed before this game.”
While Colorado is on course for the Pac-12 South title, Arizona (2-8, 0-7) is in the midst of its first seven-game losing streak since 2004.
The Wildcats moved the ball well on offense but failed to capitalize on some early chances to allow Colorado to pull away.
“It hasn’t been a great season, but we’re still going to come out and play,” Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins said. “We’re not going to hand any teams any wins.”
Samajie Grant ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns and the Wildcats outgained Colorado 417-388 in total yards. Arizona also had 13 penalties for 143 yards and three drives that ended with missed field goals by Josh Pollack.
“Those are killers,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said of the penalties. “It’s hard for us to stop somebody and we finally stop them, to give them a first down on a penalty with poor technique. You’re not a good football team when you do those things and you don’t give yourself a chance to beat anybody.”
Colorado: The Buffaloes played the way they were supposed to against a downtrodden opponent to remain a game ahead of No. 13 Utah in the Pac-12 South.
Arizona: The Wildcats’ defense was picked apart yet again and their offense was unable to capitalize on numerous chances. Arizona has two games left to avoid going winless in the Pac-12.
Liufau and Fields had a good thing going against one of the nation’s worst passing defenses.
In the second quarter, Liufau hit Fields on a 47-yard pass, setting up Lindsay for a 4-yard touchdown run. Liufau followed that with a perfectly-placed pass to Fields for a 15-yard score that put the Buffaloes up 21-10.
Fields added another score in the third quarter, a 27-yard catch that included a double move to get open and a broken tackle to get into the end zone.
Fields finished with six catches for 108 yards.
Arizona had both its top quarterbacks healthy again and they split time.
Dawkins threw for 107 yards on 9-of-19 passing and ran for 81 yards before coming out late in the third quarter. Anu Solomon was 3 of 7 for 48 yards passing and ran for 11 yards before being replaced by Khalil Tate in the final three minutes.
“Brandon has run the ball well. He’s throwing the ball well, albeit the protection was breaking down,” Rodriguez said. “I think Anu went in there and did some good stuff. I may start him this week, but it’s better to watch the film so I can truly judge his performance.”
Colorado hosts No. 23 Washington State next Saturday before its showdown against the Utes on Nov 26.
Arizona plays at Oregon State next Saturday, then closes out the season against rival Arizona State.
– By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer
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