BOULDER, Colo. —Chris Ogbonnaya’s sweet blend of speed and strength put Texas in the end zone and kept Colorado out.
Ogbonnaya scored two touchdowns and saved another in the fifth-ranked Longhorns’ 38-14 rout of the Buffaloes on Saturday night that sets up a matchup of unbeatens with top-ranked Oklahoma in Dallas next week.
The senior running back scored on a 65-yard dump-off and a 13-yard gallop through the befuddled Buffs’ defense, then saved a score when he chased down cornerback Jalil Brown at the Texas 16 after an interception of Colt McCoy.
Ogbonnaya’s trio of tremendous plays helped the Longhorns (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) take a 21-0 halftime lead and assured there would be no peeking toward next weekend’s Red River Rivalry against the Sooners.
At least not until the game’s end, when the Longhorns’ contingent of fans chanted “Beat OU! Beat OU!” as the players gathered in the end zone for the school song.
“It’s what these two teams should have at midseason. It’s two top-five teams that are both playing really well,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We’ll have everybody in America talking about the game next week, and that’s what we want.”
Ogbonnaya (pronounced OH-bon-EYE-uh) finished with a career-best 71 yards on nine carries and caught six passes for 116 yards, just four yards shy of Eric Metcalf’s 1985 school record for most yards receiving by a Texas running back.
“As long as we win, I don’t care about numbers,” said Ogbonnaya, who set career highs with a 51-yard run and a 65-yard catch.
Colorado (3-2, 0-1) lost two starting offensive linemen in the last two weeks, and the patchwork of protectors simply couldn’t bore any holes for Buffs running backs or give quarterback Cody Hawkins much time to throw against the nation’s best sack machine.
Buffaloes kicker Aric Goodman didn’t help matters and deflated the sellout homecoming crowd at Folsom Field by missing a school record-tying three field goals, all in the first half, from 36, 43 and 44 yards.
“If we get a couple of those,” the game might have been different, Buffs coach Dan Hawkins said.
Goodman wouldn’t blame his new golden Nike kicking shoes, the only ones he could get on short notice after his less-flashy and more comfortable blue ones wore out.
“Some days it doesn’t work out,” he said with a shrug.
Cody Hawkins completed just 13 of 33 passes for 118 yards in his second straight poor performance, and he was replaced in the fourth quarter by freshman Matt Ballenger, who threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Williams in the closing minutes.
Colorado and Texas hadn’t met since the Longhorns embarrassed the Buffs 70-3 in the Big 12 championship in 2005 en route to the national championship. And this one wasn’t much of a match, either.
Cha’pelle Brown’s interception of McCoy at the Texas 27 helped the Buffaloes avoid their first shutout in 20 years. Fullback Jake Behrens somersaulted into the end zone at the end of a 7-yard reception, stretching the nation’s fourth-longest scoring streak to 240 games.
Ogbonnaya snatched the momentum right back for Texas.
His 51-yard rumble set up Cody Johnson’s second TD, from 4 yards out, that made it 35-7.
“He caught the ball well, he ran the ball well, broke a lot of tackles,” McCoy said. “He made a lot of plays for us in big times.”
The first half was all Ogbonnaya:
— McCoy, who completed 23 of 30 passes for 262 yards and two TDs, dumped the ball off to him as he was falling across the line of scrimmage on a well-defended play, and Ogbonnaya raced down the Longhorns’ jubilant sideline for a 65-yard score.
— McCoy hit Jordan Shipley with a 16-yard scoring strike for a 14-0 lead after Ogbonnaya gained 23 yards on a third-and-10 shovel pass.
— On the Longhorns’ next possession, Ogbonnaya made his touchdown-saving tackle of Brown, who picked off McCoy’s pass and returned it 57 yards.
— Ogbonnaya’s 13-yard TD scamper made it 21-0.
“We’ve know what Chris could do and that’s why we really didn’t feel we needed to look at him a lot in the non-conference schedule because we had seen him for four years,” Mack Brown said. “We knew he was smart, he’s got great hands, he’s really good in the passing game, and we wanted to look at the other guys. I thought he was the best back on the field tonight.”
That included Colorado freshman Darrell Scott, the celebrated California tailback who spurned the Longhorns at the last moment. He caught two passes for 45 yards and ran twice for 4 yards but sprained an ankle in the third quarter and didn’t return.
Mack Brown’s wife, 54-year-old Sally Brown, missed the game after breaking her right arm and suffering a gash to her head when she tripped while descending a Boulder-area mountain trail Saturday morning.
“Colorado’s medical staff was on top of it. They met her at the emergency room, reset her arm and fixed her head,” Mack Brown said.
“It’s the only injury we had.”