BOULDER — The significance of Saturday’s blowout wasn’t found in physical dominance or gaudy stats.
It wasn’t reflected in the final score or personal performances. This wasn’t about the bigger and stronger Colorado Buffaloes beating up on the fledgling New Mexico State Aggies.
Saturday’s win, 39-0, was about the Buffs accomplishing what they should accomplish as they head into the most treacherous part of their schedule — a meat
grinder of a stretch that pits them against Miami, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas.
So, the good news this morning is the Buffs are 2-0 with two weeks to heal before they go up against the big guns and find out who they really are.
“Our goal tonight was to get the game done by midnight,” said head coach Gary Barnett in a statement that pretty much summed it up.
Although the margin of victory wasn’t gaudy, and the stats weren’t jaw-dropping, the Buffs thoroughly they pounded the Aggies.
CU gained 34 first downs to NMSU’s seven, out-gained the Aggies 471 yards to 181 and had the ball for more than 40 minutes. The Buffs were so far ahead with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, they played their backup kicker, Kevin Eberhart, who nailed a 23-yard field goal.
NMSU, which earned $400,000 to be the Buffs sparring partner, made no attempt to cover up the fact they were outclassed Saturday. When asked what his young team got out of the game, first year Aggies coach Hal Mumme said, “I don’t know, I guess we’re richer.”
Lawrence Vickers earned most of the attention Saturday, scoring a career-best three touchdowns. He ran for 46 yards on six carries (7.5 per try) and caught three passes for 48 yards.
“There was excellent blocking all day,” Vickers said. “But I don’t think that when I can see the goal line that anyone is going to stop me.”
It wasn’t like the Aggies were going to stop anything the Buffs did Saturday, when two things were immediately evident: The Aggies didn’t have enough talent to compete, and the Buffs came out with enough fire to exploit that advantage — even after a hearty win against Colorado State the week before.
CU’s dominance was easy to spot on defense against Mumme’s air-based offense that coaches feared would test the Buffs’ unproven secondary. However, Aggies quarterback Royal Gill barely had a chance against the Buffs’ aggressive defense that blitzed its safeties liberally in the first half.
NMSU didn’t get a first down in the first quarter, and even resorted to a fake punt that was intercepted by true freshman safety Ben Burney, a Mullen graduate. It moved the chains for the first time with 10:19 left in the first half. By the end of the third quarter, the Aggies had three first downs.
“We had a great defensive plan, and the kids really focused in,” Barnett said. “I was extremely pleased that we were able to shut down a team that can do a lot of things.
Meanwhile, the Buffs found plenty of wide-open spaces against New Mexico State’s 3-4 defense.
Although Vickers’ two-yard run put the Buffs on the board, CU was all about sophomore Hugh Charles early, using him on five of its first six plays.
Considered by his critics to be too small for inside duty, Charles found room between the tackles, displaying his toughness by greeting an Aggies linebacker helmet-to-helmet and winning the battle. He finished with 105 yards on 20 carries.
Starting today, the Buffs can finally focus on Miami.
“My thoughts are to go down there and win,” Vickers said of facing the Hurricanes. “That game is for our team to make a statement. Our focus is not going to be on listening to all those people who are going to tell us we’re going to go down there and lose.”