BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — DJ Uiagalelei threw for a touchown and ran for another and Oregon State’s swarming defense held Shedeur Sanders to 245 yards passing, including just 41 in the first half, in the 16th-ranked Beavers’ 26-19 win over fading Colorado on Saturday night.
Sanders, who entered the game as the nation’s second-leading passer with an average of 337 yards a game, repeatedly limped to the sideline and even to the locker room late in the third quarter after taking a beating for a second straight week behind a porous O-line and in the midst of a switch of play-callers that was slow to produce meaningful change.
The Beavers (7-2, 4-2) started slowly but picked up steam with a pair of touchdown drives spanning halftime, including Uiagalelei’s 20-yard toss to Deshawn Fenwick with 16 seconds left in the fist half.
With their fifth loss in six games, the Buffs (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12) fell under .500 for the first time all season. They scored two late touchdowns after managing just a field goal in their first 10 possessions, but the Beavers ran out the final 1:42 after Colorado had pulled within one score.
After a painful loss at UCLA last week in which his quarterback son was under constant durress, Buffs coach Deion Sanders switched up play-calling duties, promoting longtime NFL coach Pat Shurmur from consultant to co-offensive coordinator. He called plays from the booth down to the field where original coordinator Sean Lewis relayed them.
The change didn’t provide the spark the Buffaloes had hoped as they managed just 52 yards of offense in the first half and mismanaged their final possession, leaving the Beavers enough time to score the touchdown that gave them a 14-3 halftime lead.
Shurmur called pass plays on first and second down from his own 4 with under a minute left and the Beavers got the ball back at the Colorado 20-yard line following the three-and-out punt and Anthony Gould’s 28-yard return.
“We shouldn’t have been throwing there. We needed to run the ball,” Sanders told ESPN as he walked to the locker room. “That’s on me,” Coach Prime added.
Sanders promised a different Buffs team in the second half, including his QB, who was 11-for-19 for 41 yards at that point.
Yet, it was more of the same after the break until Sanders hit Travis Hunter from 15 yards out to pull CU to 23-12 with 10:41 remaining. That capped a 75-yard drive after the Buffaloes had managed just 78 yards total on their first 10 possessions.
After an OSU field goal, Sanders directed another 75-yard drive, capping this one with an 11-yard pass to Anthony Hankerson, to pull Colorado to 26-19.
After stuffing Colorado on the opening drive after halftime, the Beavers went 85 yards with Ugiagelelei scoring on a 1-yard keeper. Atticus Sappington’s extra point made it 21-3 but the Buffaloes were offside, and Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith decided to go for 2 instead.
That decision backfired when Uiagalelei fumbled the snap and cornerback Kendrick Breedlove scooped it up and ran it the other way for Colorado’s first defensive return for a 2-point conversion since 1991 against Nebraska.
That made it 20-5.
A first-half fumble by Sanders led to Oregon State’s first touchdown on a 23-yard keeper by sub quarterback Aidan Chiles.
The Beavers finished with 195 yards on the ground to the Buffaloes’ minus-7 yards rushing.
Oregon State: After scoring just once in their first eight drives, the Beavers settled in nicely with two TDs and two FGs on their next four possessions before killing the clock on their final drive.
Colorado: The Buffaloes find themselves in need of two wins over their final three games to become bowl eligible.
The Beavers fell five spots last week after their 27-24 loss at Arizona, but winning in Boulder steadies them this week.
Oregon State: Hosts Stanford next Saturday.
Colorado: Hosts Arizona next Saturday.