Colorado beats California in overtime for first win of 2022 season
Last season it was Arizona that knocked off California for its first win of the season. This year, it’s Colorado that does the same.
The Buffs entered Saturday’s game coming off a bye week, with an interim head coach, and without a win in their five previous tries. It took overtime to get there, but Colorado picked up its first win over the season with a 20-13 victory over the Golden Bears.
CU scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, turning back to JT Shrout at quarterback, but it was the defense that shined for the Buffs throughout. Colorado entered the game with what was statistically the worst run defense in the country. CU was dead last in rushing yards per carry allowed (6.7 a play) and dead last in rushing yards allowed per game (294).
Cal’s Jaydn Ott looked like he’d be a key figure in the matchup. The dynamic freshman running back had 274 yards and three scores just a few weeks ago and looked like he’d run away with the Pac-12’s Offensive Freshman of the Year award after just a few weeks. On Saturday, Ott was limited to 47 yards on 16 carried.
As a team, Cal ran for just 51 yards (adjusted for sacks) on only 2.6 yards a carry.
The Bears’ strategy was suspect. Rather than using Ott and the ground game to open up other pieces of its offense — which had clearly worked at other points this season — Cal looked to throw in order to set up the run. Quarterback Jack Plummer threw the ball 52 times. That included 22 pass attempts to just 14 runs in the first half, when Colorado’s offense struggled to do much of anything.
CU started freshman Owen McCown again at quarterback, but replaced him with Shrout in the second half. McCown finished 13-for-21 passing for 104 yards and a pick before exiting. Colorado opened the game with three straight three-and-outs and an interception before finally getting on the scoreboard with a second-quarter field goal.
Shrout took over and energized what was a remarkable crowd for Colorado, given the circumstances. After taking over for the season-opening starter, Brendon Lewis, Shrout was replaced with McCown after the Minnesota loss.
But interim coach Mike Sanford went back to him to close out the third quarter, and Shrout delivered.
Specifically, he delivered a touchdown in overtime to give CU the win. After Cal had driven down inside the Buffs’ 20 with the clock ticking under a minute to play, CU bowed up with a third-and-7 sack to force a field goal and keep Cal from going for the win in regulation.
Colorado got the ball first to begin the overtime period, and on a third-and-7 from Cal’s 22-yard-line, Shrout hit receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig for a touchdown in the back right corner of the endzone. The throw was initially ruled incomplete, but officials overturned the call via replay review and awarded Lemonious-Craig the touchdown on what is an early candidate for the catch of the year in college football.
They called this incomplete, reviewed it, and then overturned the call to give Colorado the TD.
— Derek Peterson (@dr_petey) October 15, 2022
Cal looked like it would have a tying touchdown as Plummer rolled out to his right, and threw back across his body to receiver Mason Starling. Instead of working to the ball, Starling stood in place, almost as if he thought he was alone in the endzone, and caught the ball with a nonchalance that gave CU defensive back Trevor Woods enough of an opportunity to get back in the play and literally punch the ball out of Starling’s hands at the last possible moment.
Final: Colorado 20, Cal 13
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) October 15, 2022
Plummer fired incomplete on fourth-and-11 a few plays later and Colorado fans poured out of the stands and onto the field.
They’re going crazy in Boulder.
Mike Sanford gets the #CUBuffs their first win of the year. pic.twitter.com/dHFyFby4jq
— Saturday Out West (@satoutwest) October 15, 2022
For Colorado, it’s the first win of the season and just the fourth against an FBS opponent since Dec. 5, 2020.
For the Bears, it’s not as rosy. Cal drops to 3-3, with all three losses coming on the road. Cal is now 1-10 in true road games since the start of the 2020 campaign.
The Buffs play Oregon State in Corvallis next weekend. Cal hosts Washington.