Sefo Liufau

Alamo Bowl blowout sees No. 12 Oklahoma State dominate No. 10 Colorado

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The Alamo Bowl saw a 31-point lead evaporate last season, but there would be no meltdown this year. No. 12 Oklahoma State (10-3) steamrolled No. 10 Colorado in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, 38-8.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns and caught a 24-yard pass from Chris Carson, and James Washington was on the receiving end of 171 yards and one touchdown from Rudolph. For a good stretch, Washington equaled Colorado’s total offensive production in the game in the second half. Colorado was just unable to get anything going on offense, with an injury to Sefo Liufau keeping the Buffs QB out of the mix for a stretch. Colorado did manage to avoid a shutout with a fourth quarter touchdown and two-point conversion. Phillip Lindsay ran for a six-yard score and Liufau completed a pass to Lindsay for a two-point conversion. At that point, however, it was more about pride than anything else, because Oklahoma State had the game all but locked down.

Cowboys running back Justice Hill hit the century mark with a late 37-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Colorado defense. Oklahoma State ended the night with over 500 yards of offense and zero turnovers.

Oklahoma State held a 31-0 lead until 5:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, preventing the Cowboys from recording their first shutout victory over a ranked opponent since 1958. The last time Oklahoma State pitched a shutout in a postseason bowl game was in the 1944 Cotton Bowl, against TCU. Oklahoma State beat their future conference foes, 34-0.

Looking Ahead

Oklahoma State will have plenty of reason to feel confident about what they can do in the Big 12 next season with Mason Rudolph and James Washington saying they will be back for one more season in Stillwater. Barring any changes on that front, the Cowboys will have one of the most potent combos in the Big 12, which is really all you need sometimes in the conference, right? Oklahoma State and Oklahoma look to be situated well to be heavy preseason favorites in Big 12 play, and each could start the year in the top 10 of the preseason polls (which are even more meaningless than the bowl games). The 2017 season begins with a Group of Five team to watch in 2017, Tulsa. The Cowboys host Tulsa on Sept. 2, 2017 in Stillwater before playing back-to-back road games at South Alabama and Pittsburgh. Big 12 play opens with a home game against TCU on Sept. 23, 2017.

What will we make of Colorado? The Buffs have a hire to make at defensive coordinator (Bob Diaco would be a good addition), and Sefo Liufau will be moving on. The Buffs will certainly have a bit of a new look next season, but the big question is how much can this program rebound in the offseason after seeing an otherwise dream season end with the thud it did in postseason play (Pac-12 championship game and Alamo Bowl)? That is not easy to predict, but the bar has been raised for Colorado and there is a renewed sense of optimism for the program to utilize to its advantage. The 2017 season opens in Denver against Colorado State and two home games against Texas State and Northern Colorado. Getting into Pac-12 play with a winning record is certainly to be expected, and anything less than a 3-0 mark should be considered a disappointment. Colorado will also get home game sin conference play against both USC and Washington, which could be interesting if Colorado continues to improve rather than take too many steps back.

Jordan Gehrke looks solid as he tries to solve Colorado’s QB question

Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera via AP
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With incumbent starting quarterback Sefo Liufau out of action with a foot injury this spring and a recent report saying Colorado-bound graduate transfer Davis Webb will be visiting Cal this week, the importance of a strong showing in the spring game in Boulder was significant. With that being said, Jordan Gehrke had reason to come away from spring practices feeling confident in his performance with so much uncertainty floating around the quarterback position on Saturday.

Gehrke completed 10 of his 12 pass attempts for 126 yards and two touchdowns in Colorado’s spring finale on Saturday. Although he was also intercepted in the spring scrimmage, Gehrke left the field holding his head high and receiving praise from co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren.

“Jordan when he got here was very polished fundamentally,” Lindgren said. “The thing I noticed with him is just his understanding of defenses and what the defense is trying to do and understanding our system and how we’re trying to attack them. He’s very veteran as far as that stuff goes.”

For his part, Gehrke is keeping the overall team goals in mind while also focusing on reaching his own personal goals.

“Personal goals and team goals are the same: Just get to a bowl game and win, however, we do it, whatever role I play,” Gehrke said. “I’m pretty excited for this year. I thought we did some good things out there. There are a couple of things we need to work on, but for the most part, I’m pretty excited for next season.”

Gehrke appeared in three games last season. This spring has seen Gehrke take on a more vital role in Colorado’s offense with the absence of Liufau, and it appears to be paying off. If the season started today, Gehrke would be the starting quarterback. The biggest questions facing the position at this point are when Liufau might be available, if at all, and whether or not Webb will follow through on his commitment to Colorado and bump Gehrke back to the role of backup quarterback. Whatever the situation, Colorado should have a bit of confidence in handing the offense off to Gehrke in 2016 when needed and in whatever role is necessary.

Will Cal flip graduate transfer QB Davis Webb from Colorado?

AP Photo/Tim Sharp, File
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Despite previously committing to Colorado as a graduate transfer, quarterback Davis Webb will reportedly visit another Pac-12 school this coming week.

According to Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, Webb will pay a visit to Cal to evaluate one other option before officially enrolling anywhere. At Cal, Webb could potentially be coached by offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, a former assistant of Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, which is reason enough for the former Red Raider quarterback to have some interest.

Landing Webb would be a nice boost for Cal’s offense as well. The Bears are losing junior Jared Goff to the NFL a year early, where Goff is expected to be one of the first two quarterbacks off the board. Cal actually has relatively few holes to plug this year, with quarterback being the most significant exception. Webb may not be Goff, but his size and physical skills would likely help him fit right in with Cal’s offense.

Joining Cal may also provide a better opportunity to win some games this fall compared to the ongoing rebuilding project in Boulder. Cal jumped out to a good start and made an early push for Pac-12 title consideration before running into a wall midway through the season.

Losing Webb to another Pac-12 school would also be a tough draw for the Buffaloes. Colorado will likely be without Sefo Liufau due to a left-foot fracture, so having a sturdy option at quarterback is a luxury for the program.

Colorado loses game, postseason dream and starting QB

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It was a rough Friday night for the Colorado football program. After a strong first half showing against USC in Boulder, the Buffs saw a 17-3 lead turn into a 27-24 loss against the Trojans. The loss officially eliminated Colorado from being able to be eligible for the postseason, a goal that was likely to be out of reach even with an upset over USC with road games against Washington State and Utah left to play. Colorado also lost starting quarterback Sefo Liufau in the first half of the game to a season-ending injury.

Liefau will undergo surgery and miss the final two games of the season as a result of a fractured left foot (Lisfranc). According to The Denver Post, the injury will keep Liufau out of action for the next six to eight months, which means he will not be able to participate in spring football practices.

“You really care for him,” Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said after the game. “First of all, you want to make sure he’s OK, make sure Mom’s OK. Then go the next step, make sure academically he doesn’t fall too far behind (because of surgery). He’s a business major, our school is tough. Then get him on the road to coming back.”

When Liufau left the game with the injury, the offense was turned over to backup Cade Apsay. Apsay completed 18 of 23 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort.

No. 25 UCLA avoids double overtime scare in Boulder

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On Saturday afternoon in Boulder, Colorado No. 25 UCLA (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) was unable to deal a knockout blow to Colorado (2-6, 0-5 Pac-12), but the Bruins found a way to a victory in double overtime. UCLA had a 24-7 lead on the Buffalos in the second quarter but had to hang on to a 40-37 victory to pick up a bowl-eligibility clinching win on the road. Brett Hundley‘s eight-yard touchdown run in the second overtime gave UCLA the hard-fought victory.

Hundley also passed for 200 yards and rushed for 110 yards with two combined touchdowns to lead UCLA to the victory. Paul Perkins broke some big runs early in the game and ended the day leading all players with 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns as well.

The Bruins scored a late touchdown in the third quarter to pad its halftime lead, but Colorado scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to push UCLA to the final whistle. Myles Jack was inserted at running back as UCLA needed to punch the ball across the goal line in the third quarter. Jack has been used sparingly this season, but his 16th rushing attempt of the year led to his second touchdown of the year. It could not have come at a better time for UCLA, as he ran right through a would-be-tackler for the touchdown on the outside.

Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau tossed each of this two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, each being caught by Bryce Bobo. That kept hope alive, but it was the defense that really provided life in the fourth quarter by stopping UCLA twice on a late drive. The first stop on third down ended up having the drive extended with a roughing the passer penalty to allow UCLA a free 15-yards and a first down to retain possession. Colorado held the Bruins once more, this time stuffing a fourth down and short play with three minutes to play. UCLA tried handing off to Eddie Vanderdoes out of a timeout on fourth and short, but Colorado played it perfectly for the stop.

Colorado then went to work on offense, methodically moving downfield into field goal range. While coming up short of a go-ahead touchdown, the Buffs settled for a game-tying field goal off the leg of Will Oliver from 35 yards.

The overtime was brought to a stop as UCLA was driving closer to the end zone. The game was paused for a while after the helmet of Colorado defensive back Tedric Thompson banged into the knee of a UCLA player. The impact left Thompson on the ground for an extended period of time before being placed on a stretcher and carted off the field while being consoled by a Colorado trainer or member of the medical staff. The defense pulled through for a stop on the first two plays after play resumed, holding UCLA to a field goal. Colorado answered on their first overtime possession with a long field goal to force a second overtime. After Colorado kicked a second field goal to take a 37-34 lead, Hundley answered with two good runs on the ensuing possession to seal the win.

So where does UCLA go from here? The Bruins are still well behind the pack in the College Football Playoff hunt, which may be out of reach the rest of the way. UCLA will host Arizona next week in one of many key Pac-12 South match-ups the rest of the way. The Bruins also still have to play at Washington and at home against USC and Stanford. The Pac-12 South is still up for grabs, and the Bruins should have enough pieces to make a run for it, but they will have to play a better game moving forward than they did against Colorado.

Colorado sinks to 0-5 in Pac-12 play and is now on the brink of missing out on postseason eligibility. With six losses, one more and Colorado will be ineligible for postseason play for a seventh straight season. Colorado’s last bowl season was 2007.