Denver Last year in their annual showdown with their in-state rival, Colorado's defensive backs were burned for touchdown passes of 52, 42, 34 and 30 yards.
In Saturday's rematch, the Colorado secondary returned fire, making four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns and one of which set up another score in a 41-14 rout of No. 24 Colorado State.
"A year ago the secondary gave up four big plays," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "This year they made four big plays. We were able to limit their (CSU's) running game enough to where we forced them to throw it."
Defensive backs Donald Strickland and Michael Lewis returned interceptions 31 and 41 yards, respectively, for scores as Colorado avenged two straight losses to CSU.
Strickland said he "got a good read off the quarterback's eyes" on his theft early in the game. "After I got it, all I could see was open field. It got our team off to an excellent start."
In a dominating performance, the Buffaloes (1-1) outgained the Rams (0-1) 410-294 before 75,022 at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Bobby Purify ran for 191 yards and Chris Brown added 121 for Colorado, which finished with 315 yards rushing. Brown scored twice on 1-yard runs, and Purify had an 18-yard TD run. Craig Ochs completed 15-of-18 passes for 95 yards.
Ochs departed in the fourth quarter with a 34-14 lead, spending the rest of the game on the sideline with ice applied to a slightly sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Colorado overcame a trying week during which the players and coaches were widely criticized after a season-opening 24-22 loss to Fresno State and injured running back Marcus Houston complained of disparaging remarks made by an athletics department official.
The developments proved not to be a distraction, as Strickland returned his interception less than a minute into the game and Purify added a scoring run for a 14-0 lead.
Sophomore D.J. Busch, starting his first game for Colorado State, threw a three-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Joel Dreessen later in the quarter to make it 14-7, but the Rams got no closer, being outscored 27-7 the remainder of the game.
"Our kids withstood all the firestorms of the last week," Barnett said. "I don't think they were distracted at all with what went on. We stayed together and stayed focused."
Busch, who threw three of the Rams' interceptions, said he "made some bad reads and it cost us. You can't guess on coverages. I did on that first interception, and it changed the whole momentum."
Ochs completed 10-of-12 passes in the first half as Colorado took a 17-7 lead.
Strickland intercepted Busch's underthrown pass and returned it 31 yards with 14:04 left in the opening period.
The Buffaloes went up 14-0 midway through the period with a 75-yard drive, capped by Purify's 18-yard run when he darted up the middle and then cut to the left sideline.
The Buffs were penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration on the extra point, but Jeremy Flores kicked the long PAT.
Henri Childs, a transfer from Kansas, broke off a 16-yard run to set up Colorado State's first touchdown, a three-yard pass from Busch to Dreessen with 3:13 left in the quarter. Childs also caught a seven-yard TD pass early in the final period. Childs rushed for 83 yards.
Colorado State 7 0 0 7 14
Colorado 14 3 14 10 41
ColoStrickland 31 interception return (Flores kick), 14:04
ColoPurify 18 run (Flores kick), 6:56
CSUDreessen 3 pass from Busch (Naughton kick), 3:13
ColoFG Flores 21, 6:07
ColoLewis 41 interception return (Flores kick), 8:39
ColoBrown 1 run (Flores kick), 1:45
CSUChilds 7 pass from Van Pelt (Naughton kick), 13:34
ColoFG Flores 41, 10:27
ColoBrown 1 run (Flores kick), 4:33
First downs 18 21
Rushes-yards 29-108 54-315
Passing 186 95
Comp-Att-Int 18-40-4 15-19-0
Return Yards 6 83
Punts-Avg. 6-37 2-54
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-40 8-79
Time of Possession 27:40 32:20
RUSHINGColorado St., Childs 20-83, Van Pelt 4-43, Busch 5-(minus 18). Colorado, Purify 21-191, Brown 21-121, Drumm 4-10, C.Johnson 4-5, Ochs 2-(minus 6), Team 2-(minus 6).
PASSINGColorado St., Busch 15-31-3-137, Van Pelt 3-9-1-49. Colorado, Ochs 15-18-0-95, Nemeth 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVINGColorado St., Rebstock 6-103, Davis 4-22, Dreessen 4-18, Hill 2-27, Ruff 1-9, Childs 1-7. Colorado, Minardi 4-22, Cormier 3-23, Graham 2-18, Drumm 2-11, C.Johnson 1-7, Brown 1-7, McCoy 1-6, M.Brunson 1-1.