BOULDER — The Buffs scored a season high in points. They piled up a a new high-water mark in offensive yards. They found a new star in wideout Jordyn Tyson.
And it still wasn’t enough to win the Interim Bowl.
Arizona State spoiled CU’s homecoming by hanging on for a 42-34 victoty at Folsom Field on Saturday night, dropping the Buffs to 1-7 on the final weekend of October, and 1-4 in Pac-12 play.
But if it wasn’t for Tyson, a nimble 6-foot-2 wideout out of Texas, things would’ve been far, far worse.
The freshman speedster finished with new personal highs in catches (five) and receiving yards (115). And his 88-yard punt return for a score with 3:50 left in the game sent a mostly empty Folsom Field into rapturous delight, cutting the Sun Devils’ lead to 42-34 and giving the underdogs a late foothold for a comeback.
It ultimately proved to be too little, too late, thanks to a beleaguered defense that reverted back to its September form — missed tackles, blown assignments and physical mismatches.
ASU, behind interim coach Shaun Aguano, piled up 560 yards of offense, 435 through the air, as a smaller CU D had zero answers for the receiving combo of Elijhah Badger (137 receiving yards) and Jalin Conyers (108 receiving yards, three scores).
Down 35-20 with 1:30 to go in the third quarter, the Buffs threatened to make it a 1-score game — only for disaster to strike again.
On first-and-10 from the ASU 37, the Buffs celebrated a 1-yard conversion on fourth down by Deion Smith, who ran for 111 yards on the night, by going for broke with a flea-flicker to streaking wideout Jack Hestera.
Alas, quarterback J.T. Shrout’s pass came out of his hands like a wounded duck, and it was high-pointed out of the air at the Sun Devils’ 12 by a leaping Chris Edmonds for a drive-ending interception.
The visitors took offense with their offense, countering with a seven-play, 88-yard drive that effectively sealed the deal, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Trenton Bourguet to the tight end Conyers that made it 41-20, ASU.
The Buffs offense threatened in the middle of the game thanks to the combination of Shrout throwing on the move to Tyson, who was cited before the season by teammates as a potential breakout candidate for what’s become a lost 2022 campaign.
With 3:16 to go in the first half, Shrout stepped up in the pocket on third-and-12, scrambled to his right, and found Tyson running free and on a crossing route and hit him in stride for a 58-yard score — the freshman wideout’s second 58-yard reception in as many weeks.
The Buffs have been egregiously slow starters this fall, especially with Shrout behind center. Two months later, that part hasn’t changed.
The hosts punted on their first possession, while the Sun Devils countered by marching 64 yards on eight plays the other way for the first touchdown of the evening.
After the Buffs responded with a 10-play drive and a field goal, Sparky was even quicker with a counter, stringing together a seven-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a Bourguet touchdown pass to Conyers from 12 yards out that made it 13-3, ASU.
CU took advantage of a short field at the start of the second stanza to post its first touchdown drive on the day, a 7-play, 52-yard jaunt punctuated by Shrout’s 7-yard scoring toss to Montana Lemonious-Craig with 10:52 left in the half, trimming ASU’s lead to 13-10.
The Buffs would come no closer the rest of the way. And the rest of the season? Well, the dance card isn’t kind. CU’s November schedule features a visit from No. 8 Oregon next Saturday, followed by a trip to No. 10 USC (Nov. 11) on a short week, then a visit to Washington on Nov. 19 before Senior Day vs. Utah at Folsom on Nov. 26.
If there’s hope for an upset along the way, it’ll rest on the legs of Tyson and Smith. And an offense that’ll have to keep finding new gears if it’s to climb the fall’s steepest, scariest incline.