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CU football notes: Buffs finish fifth in Pac-12 South

Arizona loss helps Colorado avoid another last-place finish

Colorado's Jaren Mangham did not have a carry in the loss to Utah.
Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer
Colorado’s Jaren Mangham did not have a carry in the loss to Utah.

It is perhaps a small consolation to Colorado, but when the college football regular season came to a close on Saturday night, the Buffaloes avoided their familiar spot in the Pac-12 standings.

Arizona’s loss to Arizona State late Saturday night left the Buffs (5-6, 3-6 Pac-12) in fifth place in the South standings. It’s just the second time in nine years in the conference that CU was not in last place.

Arizona (4-8, 2-7), which lost its last seven games, settled into the basement.

While the Buffs didn’t achieve their goals of bowl eligibility and winning the South, they did win at least three conference games for just the second time in the last 12 years – dating back to their final three years in the Big 12. The only other year was the 2016 Pac-12 South title season, when the Buffs went 8-1 in the conference (10-4 overall).

Like the last couple of years, though, the Buffs did have several games that left them thinking “what if?” Home losses to Air Force, Arizona and USC – all by a combined 16 points, and all coming after CU held leads – were gut-wrenching as the Buffs finished one win away from bowl eligibility for the third year in a row.

Running back Alex Fontenot said those close losses hurt, but added, “I think the difference between this year and next year is we won’t let those games go.”

Mangham sits on offense

True freshman Jaren Mangham has been the Buffs’ No. 2 running back all season – until Saturday.

Mangham, who had at least five rushing attempts in the first 11 games –and at least 10 in six games – did not touch the ball on offense in the loss to Utah.

“He was available,” head coach Mel Tucker said. “He played on special teams. It’s just kind of the way that the flow of the game went, and obviously Fontenot is a good player; he got the ball and he made some plays. We’ve got no issues there (with Mangham).”

Fontenot led the Buffs’ rushing attack (13 carries for 49 yards), while receiver Laviska Shenault (five carries) and redshirt freshman running back Deion Smith (three carries) also ran the ball – along with quarterback Steven Montez.

Mangham finished the season second on the team with 107 carries for 441 yards and three touchdowns.

Strong finish

While he had just one catch for nine yards in the finale, receiver Tony Brown was proud of the senior season he put together, posting career highs in catches (56), yards (707) and touchdowns (five).

“It feels great,” Brown said. “Not the way that I wanted it to end (in the last game), but I believe this year I made a lot out of myself. I had high expectations for myself and every day I just came with the mentality to get better every day. I had to make something out of it and I believe I did.”