BOULDER – A Friday night party in Boulder turned into an epic meltdown in Colorado.
Trailing by 29 points at halftime, Stanford scored on every possession in the second half and hit the game-tying field goal on the final play of regulation before holding on for a 46-43 double-over at Folsom Field. Defeated CU in season one.
The Cardinals eliminated Shaddell Sanders in the second overtime and recovered him shortly after on Joshua Carty’s 31-yard field goal.
Stanford University’s 29-0 run became a classic. After halftime, the visitors scored on all seven possessions and undermined CU star Travis Hunter’s return from injury.
“They’re very resilient,” Colorado coach Deion Sanders said. “A huge win for them and a terrible loss for us.”
Cardinals quarterback Ashton Daniels shredded the Buffs defense. He finished with four touchdowns and 396 yards — all but 35 of which came after halftime.
Daniels carried the ball 70 yards in the final three minutes, setting up a 46-yard field goal for Carty just as the regulation buzzer sounded.
The two teams traded touchdowns in overtime, including Eric Ayomano’s ridiculous catch over the shoulder of Travis Hunter to keep Stanford in the lead.
Buffalo (4-3, 1-3 Pac 12) got to the 1-yard line in the second overtime but fell back on its second possession before scrambling and throwing one as Sanders retreated under pressure. Floating balls are up for grabs.
Stanford didn’t push its luck in the second overtime, winning one play before kicking the game-winning field goal.
That sparked a raucous midnight celebration for Stanford, which struggled after starting 1-4 and trailing by 29 points before pulling off its biggest comeback in program history.
As the Cardinals (2-4, 1-3 Pac 12) partyed, the crowd at Folsom Field — now significantly down from its sell-out peak of 53,134 — was stunned. — marched out in a funeral procession.
It was the largest lead in Colorado football history and the largest since a loss to Kansas State on Nov. 6, 2010, when the Hornets led 28-3 before falling 52-45.
“Starting in youth football, I can’t remember losing a football game with a 29-0 lead,” Deion Sanders said. “It’s been really hard for me and it’s been really hard for all of us.”
Here are three takeaways from the complete collapse of the Astonishing Bulls.
Not ready for prime time yet
Even though this was CU’s sixth nationally televised game, “Coach Prime” said so himself.
“We haven’t built it yet.”
Instead, it was Stanford University that was performing.
Colorado collapsed in every phase of the game.
Even with Hunter back, Stanford carved up Colorado’s defense, gaining 408 yards after halftime.
The root of it all is punishment.
The scalpers hit 17 penalties and gained 127 yards. These include a large number of pre-snap fouls, personal fouls and substitution fouls.
They stopped a promising CU offense, stretched the Cardinal’s possession, and held Stanford long enough to mount a comeback.
Then there were the defensive miscues and missed tackles, the highlight of which was Ayomano’s 97-yard touchdown pass that really gave Stanford the benefit of the doubt.
“That 97-yard touchdown was the start of it all,” Dieng said.
Speaking of Ayo Manor. He had 15 catches for 207 yards and one touchdown in five games. The sophomore defeated CU with 13 catches, 294 yards and three scores.
The special teams had their own issues, including a kickoff that went out of bounds, a missed 46-yard field goal, and a 26-yard punt.
The offensive line was sacked five times and had no consistent push downfield. No CU player ran for more than 37 yards.
Finally, there’s Sheduer Sanders, who had a great game with 400 yards and five touchdowns. He even threw a completely ill-advised pass in the second overtime that was blocked, setting up Stanford’s victory.
“It was just a stupid play,” the junior quarterback said.
“He shouldn’t have conceded that goal at all,” Dieng’s father added.
The scalpers played like a mentally and physically exhausted team, with fatigue spilling over into a string of turnovers that evaporated the victory.
The coach always touted the victory as a “total team victory.” Well, it was a total team meltdown.
CU wastes Travis Hunter’s comeback up and down
Folsom Field tickets are sold out wilderness when star two-way player Travis Hunter’s name was announced in the starting lineup before the game.
Hunter missed the past three games against Colorado State with a liver tear, but he made his presence felt early.
He committed three turnovers on Stanford’s first two possessions and caught the ball early on Colorado’s opening scoring drive.
Hunter scored his first FBS touchdown on a 24-yard reception on the Hornets’ second possession.
When the Cardinals cut a 29-0 lead to 29-26? CU scored on four plays, with Hunter’s 16-yard touchdown catch helping Colorado briefly regain control.
His return also opens the door for CU’s defensive options, which were dominant in the first half but evaporated in the final 30 minutes.
CU asked Hunter to be a lock-down game-changer against TCU and Nebraska before his injury because the rest of the secondary had major questions.
Hunter finished with 13 catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns, but he still didn’t look like he was at full strength and looked tired during the game.
He got beat in a few key games at Stanford and faltered after a few hard hits late in the game.
The sophomore also committed a key personal foul that extended Stanford’s fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
“People may look at what he didn’t do, but what he did kept us in the game,” Dieng said.
Colorado collapse threatens bowling chances
Colorado is at the doorstep.
Leading by 29 points at halftime, ready to enter the inactive week with a 5-2 record, a good vibe and two straight wins, one win shy of a bowl game.
It seemed like a natural next step for the Coach Prime era in Boulder, which has been filled with drama throughout the season.
By contrast, the scene in Boulder is depressing. Most of the CU players left the game almost immediately, angry and shocked.
Dion said CU’s offense stalled late in the first half and he could feel a second-half battle coming.
“I felt complacent. I just didn’t like the feeling at halftime,” he said.
“Complacency sets in, teams come that I can’t stand.”
Translation: This team is still too young, too inconsistent, and too unorganized to be a great team.
Looking at the big picture, this loss could have a huge impact on CU.
With the four currently ranked teams remaining on the schedule over the past five games, a bowl game went from very likely to very uncertain.
So it’s a mental game for the Bulls as well.
Even with a bye next week, can Colorado bounce back from such an embarrassing loss?
Given the intense attention that Coach Prime brings, there’s certainly no escaping the pressure.
“We have no choice but to move forward because this is life,” Dion said. “Put your finger up and let’s go.”