BOULDER, Colo. – To console his downtrodden team, Colorado coach Jon Embree delivered a rather simple postgame message: Things will get better.
Things certainly can't get much worse, right?
The Buffaloes were battered 48-0 by No. 15 Stanford on Saturday in front of a less-than-capacity homecoming crowd, many of the fans scattering for the exits soon after halftime. This marked the first time in 26 years that Colorado was held scoreless at Folsom Field.
Colorado (1-8, 1-5 Pac-12) really never came close to scoring. The team didn't even break into Stanford territory until 9:16 left in the game.
Even then it didn't last long as two plays the Buffaloes fumbled the ball for a 24-yard loss, thwarting their one and only promising drive.
That's the kind of day it was against Stanford (7-2, 5-1).
Actually, that's the kind of season it's been for Embree and his players.
Still, they're trying to remain upbeat in light of all the lopsided losses.
"It takes time," senior linebacker Doug Rippy said. "It's not going to happen overnight. Rome wasn't built in a night. Trying to buy into what (the coaches) do is going to take time."
On a somewhat positive note, it was the first time the CU defense has held a team under 50 points in a month. But this wasn't exactly a high-powered offense such as USC and Oregon.
Stanford actually came in with plenty of questions surrounding its offense. Chief among them, what to do at quarterback?
Starter Josh Nunes has been struggling and Stanford coach David Shaw used this opportunity to work in redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan.
Hogan did plenty, picking apart the nation's worst defense as he threw for 184 yards and two scores. Hogan also ran for 48 more in just two quarters.
"He was very poised, I'd say," said tight end Zach Ertz, who caught one of Hogan's TD tosses.
The Buffs couldn't say the same thing about their trio of quarterbacks. In fairness, though, they really didn't have much time to get comfortable in the pocket. Jordan Webb, Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood were sacked a combined seven times.
For the game, Colorado managed just 76 total yards, with Wood accounting for the longest play as he hooked up with Tony Jones for 22 yards in the final quarter.
The Cardinal's dominating defensive performance added up to the Buffs' first shutout at home since a 28-0 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 15, 1986, snapping a streak of 150 straight games in which CU had scored at home.
"That's not going to sit well," Wood said.
So, is he buying into his coach's mantra that things will get better?
"Taking the last four or five games, there have been spurts of good play," Wood said. "There are spurts of greatness in our offense. We just have to put that together and finish drives."
There was a scary moment for the Buffaloes early in the third quarter when defensive lineman Justin Solis was carted off the field with a neck injury after making a tackle.
Solis was wrapping up Cardinal running back Anthony Wilkerson when he and a teammate hit helmets. Solis, a freshman from Thousand Oaks, Calif., stayed down as medical personnel loaded him onto a stretcher as a precaution.
The team announced he had movement in his limbs and his CT scan was negative.
"First off, Justin Solis will be OK," Embree said to start off his news conference.
The Buffaloes turned in a rather forgettable first half on offense, gaining just 20 yards and turning the ball over twice. The first mistake was made by Webb as he tried to thread a pass to Nelson Spruce over the middle. But safety Ed Reynolds read the play, jumped in front of the Spruce and raced 52 yards for Stanford's first score.
A few minutes later, Nick Kasa fumbled, which led to a 26-yard TD run by Stepfan Taylor.
Just like that, the rout was on as the Cardinal took a 35-0 lead into the locker room.
The Buffaloes were looking forward to this game because they didn't have to face a high-octane offense like the past two weeks in USC and Oregon, which outscored the Buffs by a combined margin of 120-20.
Only, the Cardinal showed their offense can be just as potent — at least against a struggling defense.
"They're good at running what they do," Rippy said. "They're very disciplined. We've got to continue to keep coming along."
Asked if he was frustrated, angry or disappointed with his team, Embree said: "All of them.
"We just haven't been able to compete like we need to, and that is something that we need to be better at."