BOULDER — The Buffs might’ve found something on defense. And after nearly three years and several painful moments, they finally found a November victory.
Evan Price’s 37-yard field goal as time expired lifted CU to a 16-13 win over Stanford on Saturday at Folsom Field.
The victory for the Buffs (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) snapped a five-game losing streak. It was the first CU contest to end on a game-winning field goal since a win over Oklahoma on Sept. 29, 2007.
The Buffs hadn’t won a football game in November since the final regular-season tussle of 2016, when then-No. 9 CU knocked off then-No. 21 Utah at Folsom Field on Nov. 26 of that year, 27-22, to close out a Pac-12 South title.
The Buffs had lost their last eight November contests coming into Saturday, having posted winless months in 2017 (0-3) and 2018 (0-4).
CU salvaged this one by managing to out-Stanford at Stanford’s own game, using a bruising running attack (41 carries for 172 rushing yards) and timely defensive stops — turning away the Cardinal on seven of 10 third-down tries — to keep the Buffs’ postseason dreams mathematically alive.
The visitors, having been held without a touchdown in each of their first seven drives, finally broke through on the second play of the fourth quarter. Cardinal wideout Simi Fehoko took a short inside route on a third-and-15 pass from K.J. Costello and outran the rest of the Buffs defense for a 79-yard score, giving Stanford its first lead of the afternoon at 12-10.
CU responded with a 14-play, 69-yard drive that ate 6: 31 off the clock but stalled at the Stanford 6 when Steven Montez’s toss to an open K.D. Nixon on third down fell incomplete. Price’s 23-yard field goal with 7: 34 to go knotted the score at 13-all.
In true Stanford fashion, this one was a grind-it-out slugfest from start to finish. If first-year CU coach Mel Tucker has been accused of coaching not to lose, there were stretches in which it seemed that veteran Stanford coach David Shaw was coaching not to win.
The Buffs opened the game marching with a physicality and purpose unmatched since either the Air Force or CSU games. With a surge up front and Fontenot and Montez alternating north-south zone read carries, CU rambled 75 yards on just nine plays, taking a 6-0 lead on Montez’s dash off left end with 11: 14 left in the first period.
With a 7-3 lead and 2: 14 to go in the first quarter, the Buffs had a gift slip their fingers after the Cardinal had a punt return slip through theirs. Stanford returner Michael Wilson signaled for a fair catch and then dropped the ball; CU’s Beau Bisharat fell on it at the Cardinal’s 9-yard line. But officials had flagged Buffs long-snapper J.T. Bale for holding on the kick, wiping out the fumble and the recovery.
The two sides traded field goals in the second quarter as the hosts closed the first half on a 13-play, 63-yard drive, padding their lead to 10-6 on a Price 34-yard field goal with 32 seconds left in the second quarter.
CU’s 16 points were the most they’d scored against the Cardinal since joining the Pac-12 for the 2011 season, and the most against a Stanford defense since a 41-37 loss at Palo Alto in September 1993.