STANFORD, Calif. -- They're starting to run together now. These sad Saturdays from the Colorado football program on the road. One looks a lot like the next at this point.
One week it's special teams, the next it's a deficient defense or offensive offense. And then there are outings like Saturday at No. 7 Stanford when it's just painfully obvious the Buffs don't have the talent to compete.
Each time it ends with Buffs hanging their heads and strolling off the field toward another sour locker room and long flight home.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck carved up a depleted CU defense missing numerous players to injuries and suspensions leading his team to its 13th straight victory -- 48-7 over the Buffs at Stanford Stadium with Denver Broncos vice president John Elway watching from the CU sideline.
Elway could be in position to make Luck the first overall selection in next April's draft if things continue to go poorly for the Broncos, and while facing CU was hardly the best chance to evaluate Luck, it served its purpose. Luck completed 26 of 33 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns in slightly more than three quarters of work. He also called many of his own plays again.
"He was outstanding. He was phenomenal," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We had two catchable balls that were incompletions, one was an interception and beside that, he was pretty close to flawless."
Colorado brought the nation's longest road losing streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision to town and added to it.
The Buffs lost their 20th consecutive road game and the 21st consecutive game they have played outside the state. They appear incapable of winning on the road any time soon, but their streak isn't even close to setting a record. The longest winless streak on the road in major college football history belongs to Northwestern, which went 46 straight games without a road win (1974-1982).
Despite the streak, the fact that he brought only 62 players on the trip and the talent on the opposite sideline, CU coach Jon Embree said he came here believing the Buffs would do better.
"I expected more, I did," Embree said. "I understand the circumstances. I don't accept them, but I understand them. We've just got to keep competing and keep trying to figure out a way."
The game told the story in terms of the talent disparity between the programs. Interviews afterward shed light on drastically different mindsets. CU players raved about Luck and his talent. Luck wasn't satisfied.
"I think we need to improve," Luck said. "We left some plays out there, some turnovers and some three-and-outs, which are not good enough."
CU fell to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-12 Conference. Embree is still looking for his first victory in the conference and his first win over a Bowl Championship Series school. Stanford remained unbeaten at 5-0 and extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games, setting a new school record for consecutive victories.
The Buffs started fast by recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff when they purposely kicked high and short to put the ball in the hands of someone other than Chris Owusu, whom Embree called "deadly." But when the first drive of the game stalled at the Stanford 12-yard line, Cardinal linebacker Max Bergen blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt by Will Oliver and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.
Stanford led 7-0 and Luck hadn't even touched the ball yet.
Colorado managed to keep it interesting into the second quarter, but then the game got away from the Buffs quickly. Stanford outgained CU 553-274 in total offense.
Trailing 13-0, CU surprised the Cardinal and the announced crowd of 50,360 when tailback Rodney Stewart collected a screen pass from Tyler Hansen and darted through defenders and all the way across the field for a 76-yard gain. Backup tailback Tony Jones scored his first career touchdown two plays later on a 5-yard pass from Hansen.
But Stanford scored twice more in the final 7 minutes of the first half to take a 27-7 lead into the locker room.
"I told the seniors, a lot of the seniors got seven opportunities left to ever play football again, and they have to make sure they keep bringing a sense of urgency to practice," Embree said. "We've got to continue to find a way to fight and take what we got and find a way to win games."
Colorado played without sophomore wide receiver Paul Richardson who suffered a sprained knee in practice on Wednesday. Richardson is expected to miss three more games. He was the Buffs leading receiver prior to Saturday and its most dynamic playmaker.
"We missed him," Embree said. "He's one of your playmakers. We needed him."