BERKELEY, Calif. – So much for a rout of Arizona changing the momentum for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Beating the winless Wildcats a week ago in Boulder was apparently just a reprieve from a sour season that took another ugly turn on Saturday at California Memorial Stadium.
Led by senior quarterback Chase Garbers, California rolled past the Buffs, 26-3, handing them yet another humbling defeat. CU (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) has lost by at least 22 points in four of the past five games and has lost five of six games overall.
“That wasn’t the type of game I was expecting at all,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t play to our capabilities today. It’s unfortunate for that. We had a really good week of practice; felt we were gonna play our best football and it didn’t happen today.”
Not even close.
In fact, the Buffs were blown out by a Golden Bears (2-5, 1-3) team that had lost three in a row and was still seeking its first win against an FBS opponent. Cal had its way with the Buffs in this one, dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and shutting down the CU offense.
Garbers, a four-year starter, threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns and added a career-high 96 rushing yards, helping Cal build a 20-point lead in the first half and coast to the finish.
In the second half, Bears didn’t score until a field goal late in the fourth quarter, but it didn’t matter much, because CU’s offense was inept with the ball in its hands. The Buffs finished with 104 yards in total offense, including just 35 yards rushing.
Receiver Brenden Rice pointed the finger at himself for a ball he dropped on the first play of the game and then added, “Start with that. Then it goes to upfront. Then it goes to the QBs and it goes to the wide receivers attacking the ball. There’s so much stuff that adds up to it. We’ve got to do those things in practice so we can change it over to the game.”
Freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis completed just 9-of-17 passes for 69 yards and an interception and he was sacked six times.
“You can definitely tell the difference between our quarterback, who’s a freshman and a senior that’s been playing for a while,” Dorrell said. “(Garbers) played a marvelous game. He was pretty good with the football, he knew where everybody was. He made plays with his legs. He would do what an experienced quarterback should do. Conversely with us we couldn’t quite get Brendon on rhythm. He did some good things early but it’s unfortunate that we’re still working through the process with our offense in general.”
A pair of field goals and a Garbers-to-Keleki Latu touchdown pass gave Cal a 13-0 lead with 9 minutes, 23 seconds to play in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Rice had a 67-yard return to the Cal 33-yard line. That set up CU’s only points, a 33-yard field goal from Cole Becker.
That was really the only time the Buffs threatened to score. Outside of that possession, the Buffs never moved the ball inside the Cal 41-yard line. CU punted seven times in 11 offensive possessions. Another ended with a failed fourth-down conversion attempt, another on a Lewis interception and the last possession ended with the clock running out in the fourth quarter.
Cal responded to CU’s field goal with another Garbers touchdown pass and a field goal on the last play of the first half to take a 23-3 lead into the break.
Dario Longhetto’s fourth field goal, with 4:56 to play, capped the scoring, but the win was already in hand for the Bears.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Dorrell said. “The players know that. Obviously what we’re doing is we’ve got to change things up to be more productive and more efficient and more effective with some other semblance of things, but it was not a very good performance.”
It was the latest in a long line of poor performances for the Buffs, who are still searching for answers.
“Practices go good but it just sort of seems like when we get into games things don’t go in our way,” cornerback Mekhi Blackmon said. “I’m just trying to keep people motivated. We’ve still got a season to play. We’re 1-3 in conference. We’re not the only ones (struggling), so this is not the end of our time.”
Maybe not, but there’s no question the Buffs have a long way to go in order to compete on a weekly basis in the Pac-12.
California 26, Colorado 3
Play of the game: Cal quarterback Chase Garbers threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Keleki Latu in the first quarter that put the Bears ahead 10-0.
Turning point: CU was already down 13-0, but briefly turned the momentum with a Cole Becker field goal, cutting the deficit to 13-3, with 6:41 to go in the first half. Cal put the game away, essentially, with a touchdown six plays later and another field goal before the half.
Top 3 Buffs of the game
1. LB Nate Landman: Another solid performance for the senior, who had 10 tackles to tie for the team lead.
2. WR Brenden Rice: His 67-yard kickoff return in the second quarter set up the Buffs’ only points. He also had one catch for six yards.
3. P Josh Watts: Continues to kick well, as he finished with an average of 48.9 yards on seven punts, including a long of 57 yards.
California 26, Colorado 3
Colorado 0 3 0 0 — 3
California 10 13 0 3 — 26
First Quarter: CAL — FG Longhetto 49, 9:42. CAL — Latu 24 pass from Garbers (Longhetto kick), 6:05. Second Quarter: CAL — FG Longhetto 30, 9:23. COLO — FG Becker 33, 6:41. CAL — Reinwald 31 pass from Garbers (Longhetto kick), 3:21. CAL — FG Longhetto 51, :00. Fourth Quarter: CAL — FG Longhetto 33, 4:56. A — 36,264.
First downs 7 23
Total Net Yards 104 438
Rushes-yards 28-35 40-213
Passing 69 225
Punt Returns 1-16 3-22
Kickoff Returns 2-87 2-53
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-0
Comp-Att-Int 9-18-1 22-30-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 6-36 1-4
Punts 7-48.857 5-37.4
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 2-15 7-75
Time of Possession 21:30 38:30
RUSHING — Colorado, Broussard 11-28, D.Smith 3-9, Fontenot 5-7, B.Lewis 9-(minus 9). California, Garbers 10-96, C.Brooks 12-61, D.Moore 7-32, Street 5-24, Remigio 1-2, Dancy 5-(minus 2).
PASSING — Colorado, B.Lewis 9-17-1-69, Carter 0-1-0-0. California, Garbers 22-29-0-225, (Team) 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Colorado, Broussard 3-30, Russell 2-18, Arias 1-8, Rice 1-6, Lemonious-Craig 1-5, Fontenot 1-2. California, Clark 4-33, Remigio 4-27, Latu 3-36, D.Moore 3-29, C.Brooks 2-20, Tonges 2-8, Reinwald 1-31, Crawford 1-15, Hunter 1-15, Terry 1-11.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.