STANFORD, Calif. — Every time the Colorado offense failed to add points to the scoreboard on Saturday afternoon, the defense could have become discouraged.
Missed opportunities to score means more pressure on the defense.
Senior linebacker Kenneth Olugbode never let his teammates get down, however.
"Naturally you can get down," safety Tedric Thompson said of the offensive struggles, "but Kenneth, he didn't let the defense get down like that. As soon as there was a three-and-out or a missed field goal, you would hear KO. That would be the first voice you hear on defense, telling us to keep our heads up that we have to win this game ourselves and stuff like that. He's a great leader."
Publicly, Olugbode is a man of few words, but on Saturday, he showed everybody why he was elected a captain this summer.
"As a defense, we kind of just shrugged our shoulders and said, 'All right. Pick up the lunch pails and go to work,'" Olugbode said.
That attitude was pivotal for the defense, which played lights-out all day in shutting down Stanford.
CU missed three field goals, and after each one, the defense got a stop.
The defense also came up with a huge turnover early in the fourth quarter. With CU clinging to its 7-3 lead, Stanford drove to the CU 4-yard line and had first-and-goal. Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns then fumbled the snap, and Olugbode — of course — pounced on the ball. It was one of four turnovers by the Cardinal.
CU's trouble in the kicking game continued on Saturday, with three missed field goals.
Already without starter Diego Gonzalez, who is out for the year with a torn Achilles. In the five weeks since then, Davis Price and Chris Graham have gone back-and-forth without either being able to seize the job.
Price didn't travel with the team, though, because he has mono. So, it was Graham's job on Saturday, and he opened the day by missing field goals of 42 and 28 yards.
So, the Buffs turned to punter Alex Kinney, who missed a 31-yarder on his first career attempt in the third quarter.
Graham did hit a 22-yard field goal late in the game, but the 1-for-4 showing was disappointing for the Buffs, who are now just 8-for-13 on field goals since Gonzalez's injury, while also missing three extra points.
"We'll just keep working at it," head coach Mike MacIntyre said.
Senior Tedric Thompson had one of the most important plays of the day when he picked off a Stanford pass midway through the fourth quarter to set up Graham's successful field goal.
Thompson, who now has four interceptions this season and 10 for his career, gave credit to cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
"I feel like it was big, but to be honest, it wasn't even me," he said. "Right before the play, Chido told me the route. I had the middle of the field and right before the play, Chido called my name and told me the route (the Stanford receiver) was going to run."
Thompson said Awuzie's relentless film study made him trust his teammate on the play.
"He's always watching film," he said. "He's telling (defensive backs) certain routes that are about to happen. He does that in practice, too, when we're going against our offense."
Thompson is the 13th player in CU history with 10 career interceptions.
Another record for Liufau
While quarterback Sefo Liufau didn't have his best day, he did go another game without an interception. In fact, he's now thrown 148 consecutive passes without an interception — the longest streak in school history.
The previous mark was 139 by Joel Klatt in 2005. Liufau's last interception came against Stanford on Nov. 7, 2015.
MacIntyre promised his team he'd taken them to In-N-Out Burger if they won, and he delivered on that promise before the team flew home. ... In three previous Pac-12 meetings with Stanford, CU rushed for a combined 122 yards on 78 carries. The Buffs had 224 yards on 49 attempts Saturday. ... Jay MacIntyre was cleared to play after going through concussion protocol this week. He did not handle punt return duties, but did play at receiver. ... CU's 10 points was its fewest point total in a win since a 6-0 win at Missouri on Oct. 8, 1992. ... Saturday marked the sixth time an opponent scored exactly five points, and the first time since Nov. 28, 1907. ... Kinney had a career-long 59-yard punt in the fourth quarter. ... Along with Price, tackle Aaron Haigler (knee) did not make the trip for the Buffs. ... CU won the coin toss for the seventh time in eight games. ... CU is now 6-17 against the Pac-12 North, including 3-0 this season.