CU at Arizona, at a glance
What went right: The Buffs made enough plays on offense and defense to pull away from the Wildcats and win fairly easily. The offense put together big plays in the passing game, and the defense held when it mattered - in and near the red zone.
What went wrong: CU was sluggish early on and allowed the Wildcats to hang around. Defensively, the Buffs gave up a season-high in rushing yards.
Turning point: Sefo Liufau's 40-yard touchdown pass to Jay MacIntyre with 1:29 to play in the first half gave the Buffs a 28-10 lead the cushion they needed to cruise to the finish.
CU player of the game: Shay Fields. The junior receiver sparked a much-needed big day for the passing game. He caught six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
Bottom line: The Buffs dominated an opponent they were supposed to dominate, and in doing so, they maintained their lead in the Pac-12 South division. That's all they needed to get out of this trip.
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Upsets ruled college football on Saturday.
Not here, though.
Colorado avoided the carnage of the College Football Playoff's rankings and routed Arizona, 49-24, at Arizona Stadium.
Ranked 12th in CFP, 16th in the Associated Press poll and 15th in the USA Today Coaches poll, CU is sure to move up in the rankings.
Most important to the Buffs (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) is that they maintained their lead in the Pac-12 South division. They go into the final two weeks of the regular season with a half-game lead over Southern Cal (7-3, 6-2), which upset No. 4 Washington, 26-13. Utah (8-2, 5-2) is just a game back of the Buffs.
"I don't know who lost, but I think the most important thing is that we came out here and we won today," quarterback Sefo Liufau said.
Washington did not, but the Huskies weren't the only highly ranked to get knocked down. No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Clemson, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn all lost on Saturday.
Considering that, the Buffs deserve credit for fighting through sluggish start and pulling away for a relatively easy win against the last-place Wildcats (2-8, 0-7).
"Our kids have been focused every game," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "I know the last game (against UCLA on Nov. 3) was kind of ugly, but we were ready to play, we played hard and just had some mistakes. Today, we got the ball in the end zone like we said we would and we kind of got back in some rhythm and hit some deep balls."
The win was CU's fourth in a row, its longest win streak in 14 years. The Buffs have reached the eight-win mark for the first time since 2004 and have six conference wins for the first time since 2002.
The Buffs have already topped the Pac-12 win total they had in the last five years combined (5-40).
For an offense that had sputtered through the previous two games, Saturday's scoring barrage was much needed.
"I think it was really important for us an offense to get back on track and go out there and put up points on the board, because we've really been leaving our defense out to dry in these past couple of weeks," Liufau said.
Liufau completed 19 of 27 passes for 213 yards and three touchdown passes, two of them to Shay Fields. It was the first three-TD game for Liufau since Sept. 17 at Michigan. He also ran for a touchdown.
"I think it was a very good confidence boost (for Liufau)," MacIntyre said. "Tonight he played like he played against (Colorado State), Idaho State and the first three quarters at Michigan. That was really good to see."
Phillip Lindsay ran for 119 yards and three touchdowns, the last one a 34-yarder in the closing minutes to put the game away.
CU held a slim 14-10 lead midway through the second quarter, but then got on a roll.
Liufau connected with Fields for a 15-yard touchdown and then hit Jay MacIntyre for a 40-yard score before halftime. That gave the Buffs a 28-10 lead at intermission.
"That was big to create the space that we needed to go into halftime," Fields said.
CU extended the lead to 42-10 before Arizona added a couple of fourth quarter scores.
Arizona out-gained the Buffs, 417-388, including 262 yards on the ground.
"We weren't probably as sharp as what we've been, but it ain't easy," defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said.
Arizona helped CU's cause with three missed field goals, a fumble and 13 penalties for 143 yards.
CU will take it.
On a day when other favorites were knocked out, the Buffs got a win they needed.
"We just went out there and handled business like we're supposed to do," linebacker Kenneth Olugbode said.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.