The Colorado Buffaloes came into Thursday as a disciplined, confident team after getting off to a 6-2 start.
The least penalized team in the Pac-12 Conference seemed to forget the winning formula against the UCLA Bruins.
Colorado lost its composure and plenty of real estate with 12 penalties for 128 yards. Eight of those were personal fouls, which is three more than the total penalties they were averaging per game.
“It was very frustrating seeing the flags on the field,” freshman offensive lineman Tim Lynott Jr. said. “You’re so close to the goal line and scoring and then you’re back 15 yards. It’s very disappointing to see that.
The bye week might have contributed to the uncharacteristic performance. The Buffs were whistled for eight penalties for 78 yards in the first half alone, setting a season high for infractions in just 30 minutes. Four of those went for 15 yards, including Jimmie Gilbert’s targeting call on UCLA’s second possession.
The number of penalties was unlike how Colorado played in its first eight games of the season. The Buffs averaged just five penalties per game for 41 yards entering Thursday but didn’t have the same discipline against the Bruins.
The tone was set early when, on Colorado’s first offensive snap of the game, Lynott was guilty of a false start.
Then the personal fouls started adding up. Gilbert was ejected after a helmet to helmet hit on UCLA quarterback Mike Fafaul. Later in the drive, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Kenneth Olugbode’s interception backed the Buffs up to the Bruins’ 38.
They were able to drive down and score to take a 7-0 lead despite the penalty.
Colorado was flagged for another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing kickoff, giving UCLA a first down at the Buffs’ 38. Fafaul cashed in on the good field position with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Darren Andrews to tie it.
Defensive lineman Jordan Carrell was called for another unsportsmanlike deep in Colorado territory, but the defense stiffened to hold the Bruins to a field goal.
A fourth 15-yarder came at the end of the half. Then Ryan Moeller got the fifth unsportsmanlike call when he taunted Andrews after tackling him along the sidelines midway through the third quarter.
The seventh personal foul call was the most costly. After Phillip Lindsay took the ball to the 1 to set up a second and goal, Bryce Bobo was flagged, backing the Buffs up to the 16. Instead of a seven-point lead early in the fourth, Chris Graham kicked a 36-yard field goal to put CU ahead 13-10.
“One of the guys after the whistle was still dragging him by his collar and I was trying to get him off of him,” Bobo said of his penalty. “The guy flopped and got the penalty. Stuff happens.
“UCLA was doing their thing and we kind of retaliated back. It’s always the second person that gets caught. That’s what kind of got to us. We’ve got to work on not retaliating to getting hit.”