What a difference a coach makes.
Mike MacIntyre’s debut as Colorado’s head man was a successful one as his revitalized Buffaloes beat in-state rival Colorado State, 41-27, on Sunday to snap the school’s eight-game losing streak. Colorado now leads the series between the two teams, 63-22-2.
The Buffs looked much improved over last season’s 1-11 squad, though it was admittedly hard to get much worse. But it’s worth noting that after turning the ball over 25 times during the eight-game skid, this rather young CU team didn’t lose the ball once against the Rams.
Quarterback Connor Wood was 33 of 46 for 400 yards and three touchdowns, including strikes of 75 and 82 yards to receiver Paul Richardson (10 catches, 208 yards), as the Buffaloes offense exploded for 513 yards of offense. It was an especially rewarding performance for Richardson, who is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss all of last fall.
The Buffs defense held CSU to just 295 yards of offense and forced two fumbles, one of which was returned for a score by defensive back Greg Henderson. If not for a 74-yard punt return touchdown by Joe Hansley, CU would’ve allowed its fewest points since the 2011 season.
As it is, Colorado has already matched it’s win total from last year. MacIntyre, who helped lead San Jose State to an 11-2 mark in 2012, seems to have a real gift for resurrecting moribund programs. It’s only one game, but the Buffaloes look nothing like the pushover they’ve been the last couple years. While it’s going to take time for Colorado to return to its former glory, a win like this against a heated rival is just what the doctor ordered.
Colorado State has some work to do, too, as it must travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama on Sept. 21. One bright spot for the Rams was freshman punter Hayden Hunt, who averaged 49.7 yards on seven punts. He should be a busy man in three weeks.