Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. – Just when Colorado must have thought this season couldn’t get off to any worse of a start following a loss to lower-level Sacramento State, Robbie Rouse and Fresno State ran the Buffaloes off the field.
Rouse set the Fresno State all-time rushing record on a 94-yard run that gave him four touchdowns in the first quarter as the Bulldogs rolled past winless Colorado 69-14 on Saturday night.
“I still believe in this team,” coach Jon Embree said. “I know our performance doesn’t reflect what we are and what we are capable of being.”
Rouse’s long run that tied the school record for a single play helped him pass Ron Rivers as the leading rusher in Bulldogs history. Rouse ran for 144 yards on the night, giving him 3,519 to Rivers’ 3,473.
Rouse started the rout with a 4-yard touchdown run on the first drive for Fresno State (2-1) and caught touchdown passes of 9 and 12 yards from Derek Carr. His long run gave the Bulldogs a 35-0 lead in the first quarter and the rushing record.
“It was better than I even imagined it,” Rouse said. “I never imagined that the record would be broken on a (94)-yard run.”
Colorado (0-3), coming off a 30-28 loss to Sacramento State of the FCS, is off to its worst start since losing its first six games in 2006. The Buffaloes got there by playing perhaps their worst half of football ever.
Colorado was outgained 516-123 in the first half and trailed 55-7 at the break. The Bulldogs had twice as many touchdowns (eight) as the Buffaloes had first downs (four). It was the most yards allowed in any half by Colorado and one point shy of UCLA’s 56-point first half in 1980 against the Buffaloes.
Fresno State lost its previous four games against teams from the six major conferences, including a 42-25 loss at Oregon last week. Colorado was no match for the Bulldogs, who got their biggest win under first-year coach Tim DeRuyter.
Fresno State scored touchdowns on its first six possessions as Colorado had only one first down in that span. Carr threw five touchdown passes in the first 23 minutes, including a 97-yarder to Isaiah Burse that was the second-longest play in school history. Carr finished 17 for 22 for 300 yards and didn’t play the second half.
“Once you look up at the scoreboard and all of a sudden it’s, bam, 35-0 you’re like, ‘Wow,’” Carr said. “That happened so fast that we didn’t have time to think about it. That’s something you expect to do every time, but it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Phillip Thomas intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns for the Bulldogs.
The Buffaloes got their first stop when Marques Mosley intercepted Carr midway through the second quarter. They appeared to stop Fresno State on the previous drive before a personal foul on Thor Eaton on a punt prolonged a drive that Carr capped with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Josh Harper.
After losing close games to Colorado State of the Mountain West Conference and Sacramento State to open the season, the Buffaloes were never in this game. The tone for the game was set on the first play when Buffaloes cornerback Kenneth Crawley was called for a personal foul.
That helped set up Rouse’s first score, a nifty 4-yard run where he ran left, reversed field when he found no opening and then jumped over a defender into the end zone.
After Thomas intercepted Jordan Webb to end Colorado’s first drive, the Bulldogs drove to another score when Carr found Rouse. That was the first of three touchdown passes on three successive plays from scrimmage for Carr.
He capped it with the long catch and run by Burse that was 1 yard short of the school record set on a play, a pass from Paul Pinegar to Paul Williams against Boise State in 2005.
Thomas added a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown against Connor Wood in the third quarter.
Colorado avoided the most lopsided loss by a team from a BCS conference against a team from a non-automatic qualifier when Josh Ford scored on a 1-yard run with 2:58 to play. UCLA still holds that ignominious record with a 59-0 loss against BYU in 2008.
“There is a lot of anger in there, but you have no choice but to come back,” Embree said. “We play next week and the clock isn’t stopping, so we got to keep grinding and find a way.”