Colorado wore black helmets for the second time in history during the program's first Friday night home game. A man the referee called a "Yayhoo" over the stadium public address system sprinted on the field momentarily disrupting things in the first quarter. And the Buffs actually held a brief lead.
Otherwise, the 2011 blackout game at Folsom Field against No. 21 USC was just more of the same sad stuff CU fans have seen all season.
Behind a record-setting performance from quarterback Matt Barkley, USC sent the Buffs to their seventh consecutive defeat 42-17. It is the Buffs' longest losing streak since the program dropped 10 straight between the end of the 2005 season and the first six games of 2006.
The Buffs are now 1-9 overall and 0-6 in the Pac-12 Conference. Colorado coach Jon Embree still hasn't secured his first career win over a Bowl Championship Series school.
"It doesn't get any easier," Embree said with echoes of USC celebrating its win coming through the walls of the Dal Ward Center. "There were a lot of positives today. There were. Like I said, at the end of it, they wore us down.
"... It doesn't get easier. I'm just trying to help this team, help these guys take the next step. Really for us it's just four quarters playing consistent. I'm just trying to help these guys compete and fight and they're doing that. Eventually it will turn their way."
The Buffs charged out of their locker room in all-black and moved down the field with ease on their first drive. Quarterback Tyler Hansen hit wide receiver Toney Clemons with a spiral on a rope and Clemons sprinted into the end zone for a 37-yard score creating buzz that something special might be brewing as it has on previous nights dubbed blackout games by CU fans.
The touchdown was the first for the Buffs against USC in three games played in the series in Boulder. It put the Buffs in the lead for the first time since the Washington State game, a span of 224 minutes, 10 seconds.
But it didn't last long.
USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley, considered a probable first-round draft pick and possible target of the Denver Broncos next spring, led his team down the field in seven plays to tie the score on a 33-yard pass to Marqise Lee.
It was the first of four first-half touchdown throws by Barkley, the latest Pac-12 quarterback to pick apart CU's greenhorn secondary.
"That's why he needs to leave next year," Embree said.
Barkley's only major mistake of the first half came late when he threw an interception to cornerback Jason Espinoza, who returned it to the Trojans' 8-yard line. The CU offense did nothing with the opportunity and settled for a field goal to make the halftime score 28-10.
CU had two other field-goal attempts blocked in the game.
Barkley later tied his own school record by tossing his fifth touchdown pass in the third quarter and he set a new record with his sixth touchdown pass in the fourth. He completed 25-of-39 passes for 318 yards.
"We knew our receiving corps was much better than their secondary and it definitely showed tonight," Barkley said. "We were a little off on a couple of throws but I mean, we were throwing the ball all over the place. Thank you, Coach Kiffin for the calls."
Lee and Robert Woods each caught two of the scoring strikes and both receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark in receiving against a beleaguered CU defense that lost safety Kyle Washington to a concussion in the first half.
The Buffs have now surrendered more than 40 points and more than 500 yards of total offense in five straight games.
"I don't think they really knew what to do the whole night," Barkley said.
Colorado welcomed back tailback Rodney Stewart and wide receiver Paul Richardson from injured knees, but neither player made a big difference when the game was still competitive. Richardson had only one catch for three yards in the first half.
Stewart set a school record for CU in his first action since the Washington game three weeks ago. Midway through the first quarter he caught a pass for 18 yards, pushing him past offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy into first place on the school's career all-purpose yardage list.
While Barkley sparkled for the Trojans, Hansen was inconsistent for the Buffs and his best moment of the night might have been that first touchdown pass to Clemons. He added a 35-yard run later that left you wondering why he hasn't done more of that this season.
The CU senior was under pressure for much of the night from the USC defensive front, but he threw behind and short of receivers throughout the game. He finished the game completing 17-of-37 passes for 250 yards and two scores, both which went to Clemons.
"I think there was throws that I missed that I should have made, that I can make, I have made," Hansen said answering a question about the Buffs' problems in the red zone. "There are plays that I want back obviously. That's like every game."
Hansen, Clemons, Stewart and the rest of the large Colorado senior class will play their final home game one week from today against Arizona.