ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — De’Veon Smith gave Michigan the lead with a 42-yard run early in the third quarter and the No. 4 Wolverines pulled away to beat Colorado 45-28 on Saturday.
The Wolverines (3-0) were behind 21-7 in the first quarter and by four points in the opening minute of the second half.
“There was no level of panic,” said Jabrill Peppers, who returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown
The Buffaloes (2-1) got to midfield on the final possession, but they were more than a Hail Mary away by the end of the matchup, which rekindled memories of Kordell Stewart’s 64-yard pass to Michael Westbrook in 1994 in the same stadium.
It didn’t help that Sefo Liufau was hurt after throwing his third TD pass, a 70-yarder to Shay Fields that put Colorado up 28-24 just after halftime.
Liufau, who was shaken up in the first half, grabbed his right ankle after Ryan Glasgow hit him on the go-ahead score. The senior quarterback limped through Colorado’s next series before being replaced by freshman Steven Montez.
Liufau said it was “devastating,” to have to watch the rest of the game.
“It’s a little over-dramatic, I think, but I can’t really find another word right now, it just hurts,” he said.
Colorado: The Buffaloes look as if they should have enough talent to win more than four games, the most they’ve won in coach Mike MacIntyre’s previous three years at the school. Colorado, however, has to hope Liufau is not injured seriously again. “I just couldn’t plant, and throw with much velocity,” Liufau said. “It was better for me to come out.”
Michigan: The Wolverines are giving up big plays, allowing Colorado to go nearly three-fourths of the field on one play a week after letting Central Florida run for 80-plus yards on two runs. “We definitely have to get the big plays corrected,” Peppers acknowledged. Wilton Speight struggled for the first time, barely completing half of his passes and nearly getting picked off several times. “It wasn’t as clean as a quarterback would have liked it to be,” coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Colorado: The Buffaloes, who have only one Pac-12 win in MacIntyre’s three years, open the conference season with a tough test at Oregon.
Michigan: The Wolverines, whose last Big Ten title was in 2004, will play their fourth of five straight games at home against Wisconsin in their conference opener.
The Wolverines will likely move up a spot because No. 2 Florida State lost 63-20 to Louisville.