UCLA rivalry among the wildest for CU Buffs since joining Pac-12

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Isaiah Oliver runs back a punt against UCLA on Nov. 3, 2016 at Folsom Field.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter on Oct. 25, 2014 against UCLA but it was not enough as the Buffs fell 40-37 in overtime.

  • Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

    Coloado recevier Bryce Bobo drops a pass against UCLA on Sept. 30, 2017.



The competition around the Pac-12 Conference has given Mike MacIntyre more than his share of recurring nightmares over the course of his Colorado career. That can happen when you sport a 12-33 mark within your league.

Yet the angst leftover from the heartbreak his Buffaloes have suffered against one particular opponent sometimes has been difficult to shake. When the Buffs line up against UCLA, weird things tend to happen. MacIntyre pretty much can recite them all.

There was the time his Buffs mounted a fourth-quarter comeback for the ages, only to have their hearts broken in double overtime. Or the time the Buffs ran 114 plays — 114 plays! — and still managed to lose. Or the time not so long ago when a receiving corps considered a strength of the team combined for four critical drops in a four-point defeat.

For the Buffs, this is but a sampling of the agony that has marked the program’s rivalry with UCLA since joining the Pac-12. Favored this time around, the Buffs hope to write a new chapter when they welcome the Bruins to Folsom Field Friday night for both teams’ league opener (7 pm., FS-1).

“They have got our number,” MacIntyre said. “We’ve had some unbelievable games. I remember the double overtime game out here when the student body was moving from end to end. We had our opportunities to win it and didn’t. And the game we had down there in the heat down there, and we ran the most plays in regulation that any team ran all year. We ran 114 plays in the regular 60 minutes and screwed it up and lost that game.

“Then we had the game here, the night game (in 2016) on a Friday night that was a great game. Isaiah (Oliver) took the punt back and kind of sealed the deal. Then last year’s game was back-and-forth and back-and-forth.”

MacIntyre has gone 1-4 against UCLA, a ledger that includes some of the wildest and most gut-wrenching losses of his CU tenure.

A year after a solid 45-23 drubbing in MacIntyre’s first season in 2013, the Buffs trailed UCLA at home 31-14 entering the fourth quarter. Seventeen unanswered points in the fourth — CU received two Sefo Liufau-to-Bryce Bobo touchdowns and a Will Oliver field goal with 36 seconds left — sent the game into overtime. The Buffs were unable to find the end zone, though, and the Bruins escaped with a 40-37 win.

It was just as chaotic in 2015 in Los Angeles. The Buffs outgained UCLA by 154 yards, played even in the turnover department, watched UCLA commit 110 yards of penalties, and ran those 114 plays. They still managed to lose 35-31.

Of course, it hasn’t quite been all doom-and-gloom against the Bruins. The 2016 win, spurred by Oliver’s punt return and 51-yard interception return from Kenneth Olugbode, was one of the home highlights of the South Division title season.

The opposite rang true last year, when the dropped passes, a questionable holding call that erased a Steven Montez touchdown, and a botched fake field goal highlighted a night of missed opportunities in a four-point loss.

If form holds true, Friday night’s league opener should be entertaining at the very least.

“Our guys know it’s going to be….the separation in the games, if you put the last four or five together it’s like a five-point difference in all the games,” MacIntyre said. “It’s going to be a heck of a battle. They’ve always had great athletes and have a great history of football. And so do we. Our guys are looking forward to playing.”

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