Throughout this remarkable season, the Colorado defense has always managed to find a way to play its best when it matters most.

Saturday was no different, as the defense rose to the occasion and led ninth-ranked CU to a 27-22 victory at Folsom Field to secure the Pac-12 South title.

Ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 in defense, the Buffs cemented their place at the top of the conference by forcing four Utah turnovers, holding the Utes to 339 yards and shutting down a running back nobody else has been able to stop during the second half of the season.

Utah running back Joe Williams had averaged 202.6 rushing yards since returning from retirement. Against the Buffs, he had 97 yards on 26 carries, fumbled twice and didn't get into the end zone.

"That was a big part of our game plan going in was we can't let him run long on us," linebacker Rick Gamboa said. "If we were able to slow him down and stop him, we knew we had a chance for us to get this win tonight."

It wasn't just Williams that they stopped. In the red zone, the Buffs were spectacular. Here's a look at each of Utah's trips to the red zone - all in the second half:

1. Utah had 3 plays, 5 yards. Result: 22-yard field goal.
2. Utah had 1 play, 12 yards. Result: Fumble, recovered by CU's Chidobe Awuzie.
3. Utah had 3 plays, 5 yards. Result: 22-yard field goal.
4. Utah had 3 plays, minus-2 yards. Result: 23-yard field goal.
5. Utah had 1 play, 7 yards. Result: 7-yard touchdown pass.


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That's five trips - 4 of them inside the 10 - and just 16 points.

"We preach if they're going to get to the red zone, we can't let them get in," Gamboa said. "We have to hold them to field goals and hold them to turnovers."

Thompson ties mark

Safety Tedric Thompson had two interceptions on the night, giving him seven for the season. Thompson tied Dick Anderson (1967) and Cullen Bryant (1972) for CU's single-season interception record.

"It's pretty crazy," he said. "It really is a blessing. If you go back and look at them, the majority are because of a team effort - the D-line getting pressure, the backers clearing the routes and the quarterback just overthrowing the ball, or something like that.

"The interceptions I have caught, I'm pretty sure there's not one I caught that I just made an individual play."

Thompson has 13 interceptions during his career, tied with Tim James (1987-90) for No. 5 on CU's career list - just three shy of the career record.

With four forced turnovers, CU continued its nation-best streak of 25 consecutive games with a takeaway.

Slowing Lindsay

CU running back Phillip Lindsay came into the night as one of the hottest running backs in the Pac-12 in the past few weeks.

In fact, Lindsay had accumulated at least 100 yards in every Pac-12 game going into Saturday, and he had scored a touchdown in all but one conference game.

Against the Utes, however, Lindsay wasn't much of a factor. He finished with 55 yards on 12 carries and caught just two passes for 10 yards, and didn't reach the end zone.

"They just ran a lot of guys in the box and they played man on the outside," quarterback Sefo Liufau said. "When they do that, it's really hard to run your running back, because they always have a free guy running. That's the only reason we ran me a lot tonight. There's an extra blocker if I'm running the ball."

Liufau had 21 carries for 59 yards. Taking out his two sacks, he had 19 carries for 73 yards.

CU finished with just 108 yards on the ground against a Utah team that was third in the conference in run defense. CU only worse rushing games came in the two losses, at USC (96 yards) and at Michigan (64 yards).

Sold out

Saturday's game was the first sellout at Folsom Field in more than eight years, as 52,301 tickets were sold.

It's the first sellout since Oct. 4, 2008, when Texas came to Boulder. It's also just the second sellout in the last 11 seasons.

Saturday's attendance was the largest at Folsom since 52,855 were sold for the Buffs take on Georgia on Oct. 2 ,2010. Folsom Field had a larger capacity at that time.

With the success of the football team this year, the Buffs saw a huge jump in attendance at Folsom field, with a total of 279,652 tickets sold. On average, home attendance was 46,609, way up from the average of 39,389 a year ago.

Perfect at home

CU wrapped up an undefeated season at home, going 6-0 at Folsom Field.

It's just the sixth time in school history that the Buffs have gone 6-0 at home, also doing so in 1937, 1975, 1989, 1990 and 1994).

Prior to this year, the Buffs had not even had a winning home record since 2010, when they went 4-2.

How the Buffs got to 6-0 at home was impressive. They allowed just eight total touchdowns in the six games, and held all six opponents to 24 points or less.

No flags for Buffs

CU finished the game with a rare number of penalties: Zero.

The Buffs were flagged once for holding, but Utah declined the penalty, so CU officially wound up with no penalties.

It's just the fifth time in school history that CU went a whole game without a penalty, and the first time since Oct. 14, 2006, against Texas Tech. Before that, it had not happened since 1985. So, this was just the second time in 31 years the Buffs have managed to get through a game without a penalty.

It was a fairly clean game for both teams, as Utah finished with just three penalties for 36 yards.

Notable

For the first time since 1996, CU has won six games in a row. That was the also the last time the Buffs won six conference games in a row. ... Prior to last week, the Buffs had lost 23 straight games to ranked opponents. Now, they've defeated ranked teams in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 2002. ... Thompson and senior cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon came into the night among the national leaders in pass breakups, and each had four. ... Receiver Bryce Bobo (ankle) did not play, missing a game for the first time this year. Junior Kabion Ento got his first career start in his place. ... Linebacker Christian Shaver missed his second consecutive game after a violation of team rules. ... CU won the coin toss again, finishing the regular season at 11-1. The only coin toss the Buffs lost came at USC.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.