BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The Colorado Buffaloes beat the heat and a letdown — now they’re taking an unbeaten record into conference play.
Travon McMillian rushed for 162 yards and two scores and Colorado beat New Hampshire 45-14 on Saturday.
Steven Montez was 14 of 19 for 166 yards passing and another score to help the Buffaloes (3-0) win their home opener. The Buffaloes have won their first three games for the second straight season.
Colorado sputtered in 2017, going 2-7 in the Pac-12 Conference a year after winning the South Division. The players want to change things in 2018.
“We have this ball rolling downhill and we want to keep it going,” defensive end Mustafa Johnson said.
The temperature at game time was an unseasonably warm 90 degrees, which was the fourth-warmest game in the history of Folsom Field. A big lead early in the third quarter allowed the Buffaloes to rotate subs in for most of the second half.
McMillian was done for the day after rushing for 112 yards on five carries in the third quarter. He had touchdown runs of 1 and 75 yards as Colorado built a big lead over the FCS Wildcats. His long touchdown run came on the first snap of the third quarter and made it 35-0.
“(The line) gave me a crease so once I hit it I got into the open field and wasn’t trying to get caught,” McMillian said.
The Buffaloes built a 28-0 lead in the first half on Montez’s 28-yard scoring pass to Laviska Shenault Jr., touchdown runs by McMillian and Kyle Evans and a 14-yard fumble recovery and return by linebacker Davion Taylor.
Another drive ended when New Hampshire safety Evan Horn intercepted Montez in the end zone late in the second quarter.
“We should have been up 35-0 at halftime — at least 31-0,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.
New Hampshire (0-3) scored on two big plays in the third quarter. Safety Pop Lacey returned backup quarterback Sam Noyer’s pass 15 yards for the first touchdown, and after a field goal made it 38-7, quarterback Christian Lupoli connected with receiver Neil O’Connor on a 71-yard scoring play.
“It was a hell of a play by Pop,” Wildcats coach Sean McDonnell said. “A nice play by Evan Horn, but the disappointing thing is that we didn’t tackle. We didn’t tackle the way we did in the Colgate game, I think I’d feel a little better about it. That being said, it was a little bit different cat that we were chasing this weekend.”
Lupoli was 13-of-31 passing for 160 yards and one touchdown in his second start since Trevor Knight went down.
“I said last week that I came here to start games, I came here to help this team win,” Lupoli said. “I came here to play football so I can’t have too many nerves.”
The Wildcats have lost their first three games since starting the 2002 season 0-4.
Taylor’s fumble return was the first time he has scored a touchdown — ever. The junior didn’t play high school ball and never scored in his two seasons at Coahoma Junior College, so hitting paydirt Saturday was a new experience for him.
“When I saw the ball I didn’t know what to do,” Taylor said. “I picked it up and when I got to the (end zone) it was a dream come true. I didn’t know how to celebrate. When I got to the sidelines everybody was happy and I was overjoyed myself.”
Colorado placekicker James Stefanou suffered a groin injury in the win over Nebraska and his status for Saturday was in question. MacIntyre said Stefanou did some kicking Thursday and felt better and then told his coach after warmups he was good to go. He hit his only field-goal attempt and all six extra points.
New Hampshire was trying to beat a FBS team for the second straight season. Last year the Wildcats won at Georgia Southern but it was apparent by halftime the magic wasn’t there for a second upset.
“We came in with the mindset that we are going to do everything in our power and just weren’t able to get it done today,” Lacey said.
New Hampshire: The Wildcats have missed Knight, who was injured in the season-opening loss at Maine. Lupoli is just 32 of 68 for 391 yards and one touchdown since taking over for Knight. The 14 points scored Saturday doubled New Hampshire’s season total, but the Wildcats’ scoring came after the game was all but decided.
Colorado: The Buffaloes showed no signs of a letdown after their big win at Nebraska last week. The defense held the Wildcats to 42 rushing yards, sacked Lupoli five times and forced three turnovers. Colorado rushed for 311 yards after being held to 44 yards on 35 carries against the Huskers. The Buffaloes finished with 491 total yards.
New Hampshire has a bye week before playing at Elon on Sept. 29.
Colorado has a week off before it hosts UCLA in its Pac-12 opener on Sept. 28.
By MICHAEL KELLY
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