BOULDER, Colo. (CBS/AP) — Paul Richardson scribbled the words “Don’t” and “Blink” on black patches under each eye.
A simple message intended to keep the Colorado receiver aware of everything around him.
“If my eyes are open, if I’m alert, I can make a block, I can make a play, I can make a catch,” Richardson explained. “Got to have your eyes open.”
And now, after a 41-24 win over California on Saturday, the Buffaloes’ eyes are certainly open to this: They have an outside chance at a bowl appearance.
That hardly seemed possible as Colorado (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12) endured six straight conference losses, giving up an average of 50.5 points a game.
Should the Buffs beat USC next week and close out the season with a win at Utah, they would be postseason eligible. A little extra motivation down the stretch.
“It’s very possible,” said Sefo Liufau, who threw for a career-high 364 yards to help the Buffaloes snap a 14-game conference losing streak.
Richardson couldn’t agree more.
“We can’t alter what we’ve done in the past but we can do better in the future,” said Richardson, who tied a team record for receptions in a contest with 11. “We got the `W’ so hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Nelson Spruce and Richardson each went over the 100-yard receiving mark for Colorado. Spruce had eight catches for 140 yards and Richardson had 140 yards. Richardson now has 1,201 yards receiving this year, a new single-season record at Colorado.
It was Colorado’s first league win since beating Washington State 35-34 on Sept. 22, 2012.
“Fun to see all of their faces smiling,” first-year Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.
In this game, Liufau also tossed three TD passes as he outplayed fellow freshman Jared Goff, who struggled to ignite the offense as the Bears (1-10, 0-8 Pac-12) dropped their 13th straight league game.
This was the kind of day it was for Goff: He had more punts (3) and interceptions (1) than TD passes (0) as he finished 23 of 45 for 173 yards. Goff was even briefly replaced in the second half by backup Zach Kline.
“(Goff) had a hard time; the ball was sailing on him,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “We just didn’t execute. … We didn’t have our guys ready to play so that falls on me.”
The Buffaloes defense, which was allowing 40 points a game this season, held the Bears in check for most of the game. They also forced Cal to turn ball over on downs several times.
Michael Adkins gave the Buffaloes a 34-10 lead early in the fourth quarter when he took a screen pass from Liufau and sprinted 63 yards for a score.
Later, after Brendan Bigelow scored on a 1-yard run, the Buffs sealed the win when Cal tried to onside kick it only to have Spruce field it cleanly on a bounce and take off for a 46-yard touchdown.
Bigelow finished with 107 yards rushing and two scores.
The wind was howling inside Folsom Field, with hot dog wrappers, programs and even the cheerleaders’ pom-poms blowing across the field. At times, gusts reached 35 mph, making it downright difficult to punt for whichever team was going from the north end zone to the south. There were moments when an official had to hold the ball until the center was ready, just to keep it from rolling away.
Tony Jones scored on a 10-yard pass from Liufau to give the Buffs a 17-10 lead late in the first half. Colorado then attempted an onside kick and caught Cal off guard, with Isaac Archuleta pouncing on the football and setting up the Buffs in Bears territory. Eight plays later, Christian Powell powered in from 2 yards out to extend the lead to 24-10 at halftime.
Down 10-0 early, Cal tied the game on a 42-yard field goal by Vincenzo D’Amato and a 55-yard TD scamper from Khalfani Muhammad.
For Dykes, this has been a difficult inaugural season with the Bears on and off the field. The team hasn’t been able to get any traction with their only win against an FBS opponent.
On Friday, Cal suspended an unidentified football player for instigating a locker room altercation that sent freshman running back Fabiano Hale to the hospital. After an internal examination of the incident on Nov. 1, Dykes announced the player will be suspended indefinitely from all team activities, will attend counseling and has to perform 25 hours of community service to be considered for reinstatement.
“We have to change a lot of things about our program, but we think we know what we need to do, and the changes we need to make,” Dykes said. “We’re going to have a good football team next year.”
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