BOULDER (AP) — Sam Noyer ran for a score and threw for another to help Colorado hold off San Diego State 20-10 on Saturday night as the Buffaloes remain undefeated under new coach Karl Dorrell.
Jarek Broussard rushed for 124 yards to top the 100-yard mark for a third straight game, while a Colorado defense led by linebacker Nate Landman kept relentless pressure on a banged-up Aztecs offense.
A stingy San Diego State defense kept things close, though, even providing a big first-half spark when Darren Hall picked off a Noyer pass and returned it for a 57-yard score. That was after Colorado grabbed a 14-0 lead behind a 1-yard TD run by Noyer and a 3-yard flip pass to Jaylon Jackson.
The Buffaloes and Aztecs didn’t find out they were meeting on the field until Thanksgiving Day. Colorado (3-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was originally scheduled to travel to No. 19 USC for a Pac-12 South showdown, but it was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Trojans’ program.
San Diego State (3-3, 3-2 Mountain West) was available for a trip to Boulder when its contest at Fresno State was called off due to contact tracing concerns with the Bulldogs.
Hired last February, Dorrell hasn’t taken long to get the Buffaloes to buy in. He became the first Colorado coach to start his tenure 3-0 since Rick Neuheisel in 1995, which just so happened to boast a staff that included Dorrell as the offensive coordinator.
The Aztecs were missing a big chunk of their offense with running back Greg Bell out due to a sore ankle. They also were missing injured quarterback Lucas Johnson so they started Carson Baker before turning to Jordon Brookshire.
Baker, Brookshire and the offense struggled eluding the presence of Landman, who had 11 tackles and three sacks. Curtis Appleton all but ended the game by picking off Brookshire with around 30 seconds remaining.
The Aztecs missed two long field goals by Matt Araiza in the fourth quarter, including one that was blocked.
Colorado was cruising along with a 14-0 lead — and dominating time of possession — until a costly turnover late in the first half turned the momentum.
Hall read the route to perfection to pick off a Noyer pass and went untouched down the sideline for the score. That was followed by a 48-yard field goal Araiza to make it 14-10 just before intermission.
Noyer had a hand in both scores for the Buffaloes in the first half. He capped a time-consuming, 16-play drive by scoring on a fourth-and-goal keeper from a yard out in the first quarter. He later flipped a pass to Jackson for a 3-yard score in the second.
San Diego State: It was a rare Pac-12 loss for the Aztecs, who fell to 5-2 against the league since 2016.
Colorado: The Buffaloes are looking at bowl possibilities by starting 3-0 for a third time in four seasons. They haven't been to a bowl since '16.
THIS & THAT
The kickoff was pushed back about 30 minutes due to testing for the Aztecs, which delayed their arrival at Folsom Field. ... Each team had a targeting call reversed in the opening minutes of the game. ... San Diego State had seven penalties for 64 yards. ... This was the second meeting between the two teams. Colorado won at home in 2002.
San Diego State: Will host Colorado State on Saturday.
Colorado: At Arizona on Saturday.