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Final Score: Stanford 32, Colorado 35

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Davis Mills valiant effort in the fourth quarter couldn’t quite get it done

Colorado v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Stanford Cardinal dropped their home-opening contest against the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon, 35-32. The Cardinal fall to 0-2 while the Buffs improved to 2-0. It wasn’t not exciting, to say the least, but it was an unfortunate first three quarters of play that did the Cardinal in.

We’ll quickly re-assess how it all went down:

Jet Toner gets back in the groove

Despite four missed field goals in the loss to the Oregon Ducks, kicker Jet Toner atoned for his Week 1 disaster with an early 48-yard field goal that put his kicking woes behind him on Stanford’s first drive of the game. He connected on a 33-yard field goal and a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter as well. Toner finished the game 3-for-3 on the afternoon.

Malik Antoine makes a play

Antoine got in on the takeaway action for the first time this season, picking off a deep post from Colorado QB Sam Noyer. Jordan Fox put incredible pressure on Noyer and caused the ball to be slightly underthrown and hurried, but Antoine’s ball skills over the deep middle of the field really shined through.

Austin Jones becomes an even bigger part of the offense

Jones has not only become the bellcow for the Cardinal offense, he also has become a valuable asset in the passing game out of the backfield, hauling in three receptions in the first quarter alone.

Jones also added value on a scramble early in the game with this block on talented Colorado LB Nate Landman before making him miss badly with an incredible juke the next play.

Cardinal defense struggles in the first half

The Colorado offense was stymied early on during their first two drives, but after a few chunk plays, Noyer showcased what made him so impressive against UCLA and the Buffs offense got rolling early. Their first two drives totaled 26 yards while their second two drives of the game went for 127 yards and 14 total points, giving them their 14-6 lead after their offense was successful in the red zone with touchdowns instead of field goals, like Stanford’s had been.

Davis Mills showcases his arm talent

And Simi Fehoko continues to climb up the best Pac-12 WR leaderboards.

Red zone offensive woes continue

Through six quarters of football, the Stanford Cardinal are 2-for-6 in the red zone when it came to scoring touchdowns. Against Oregon, of course, they missed two field goals in the red zone and went 2-of-4 on total points scores on trips inside the opponent’s 20-yardline but against Colorado in the first half, they had to settle for two field goals on both trips in the scoring area against the Buffs early.

Coverage lapses lead to big deficit

It was early on in the third quarter that the game was a one-possession game in favor for the Buffs. After two impressive drives in the third quarter, however, the Buffs opened up an even bigger lead. Noyer showed off incredible football IQ with quickly reading a blown coverage and finding a wide open Brendan Rice to go up 28-9 and that was just a few plays after a key defensive offsides penalty allowed a free play, in which Noyer at least gave his receiver a chance on a go ball down the sidelines on the drive prior. Noyer continuously looked sharper, albeit with a game of experience this season, than Mills.

Mills answers

The red zone woes took a drive off when Mills was able to cap an impressive 9-play, 82-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to cut into the lead midway through the third quarter. Mills finally looked himself on their second drive of the third quarter, completing 5-of-7 passes for 64 yards on the drive.

Long drives do the Cardinal in

In a second half in which they couldn’t answer on their own drives on offense, the Stanford defense struggled to get off the field against Noyer and the Buffs’ offense. Colorado had two touchdown drives of at least nine plays each in the second half, sucking the time, air and momentum from the Cardinal on offense. Stanford’s run defense allowed Colorado RB Jarek Broussard to go for 121 on 27 carries in an impressive individual performance.

Fourth Quarter excitement

The fourth quarter was largely dominated by Stanford, scoring two touchdowns on two extremely long, impressive drives by Davis Mills and Co. First was the 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth to get the score within two possessions after a successful two-point conversion.

A defensive hold allowed Stanford to get the ball back and drive 80 yards in 13 plays, aided by a fourth-down defensive pass interference in the end zone that allowed Mills to find Scooter Harrington to bring it to within five points. A Mills 2-point conversion attempt was good to Tucker Fisk to cut the deficit to three at 35-32.

However, an unsuccessful onside kick gave Colorado the ball at midfield and despite holding the Buffs to a punt on the ensuing drive, Stanford only had :10 left on the clock and 92 yards to go to win and not enough time to get the ball into field-goal range for Toner. Mills and the offense lost the football on a hook-and-ladder play that didn’t look good from the onset as the clocks hit 0:00.

Next up

The Cardinal are back at it this week, welcoming the Washington State Cougars to The Farm on Saturday, November 21 at 8:00 pm.