DENVER (AP) Colorado linebacker Kenneth Olugbode's 60-yard interception return for a touchdown against rival Colorado State was an ''amazing birthday present.'' His teammates' overtime heroics Saturday night allowed him to celebrate the big 2-0 in style.
Tedric Thompson blocked Wyatt Bryan's 27-yard field goal attempt in overtime and Diego Gonzalez atoned for a miss at the end of regulation by hitting a 32-yarder, powering the Buffaloes past the Rams 27-24 in the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
''I knew Diego wasn't going to miss two in a row,'' Olugbode said.
Gonzalez had shanked a 48-yarder as time expired.
''It's an amazing feeling,'' said the junior from Monterrey, Mexico. ''It's my first game-winner. I'm really happy the coaches trusted me a second time.''
The Buffaloes (2-1), who snapped a nine-game skid with a win over UMass last week, have their first winning streak since 2013. They trailed 14-0 early on but capitalized on several Rams mistakes and took a 24-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter on Olugbode's pick-6.
Linebacker Rick Gamboa and Nick Stevens' pass to running back Dalyn Dawkins arrived at the same time and the ball bounced high into the air as the crowd 66,253 strong at Sports Authority Field gasped. Olugbode gathered it in and raced down the Rams' sideline for the score.
''Amazing birthday present,'' Olugbode said.
The Rams responded to Olugbode's TD with a 75-yard drive to tie it on Jasen Oden Jr.'s 1-yard run with 4:29 remaining, then held at the end of regulation only to lose in the first overtime for the second straight week.
''It hurts. It hurts bad,'' said Colorado State star Rashard Higgins. ''We did all we could and we came up on the short end of the stick. You never want to lose to a rival.''
Higgins returned from a sprained ankle that sidelined him against the Gophers and caught eight passes for 125 yards and a 25-yard TD from Stevens, who threw for 282 yards but was intercepted twice.
''Any time you lose it definitely hurts,'' Stevens said. ''Especially in overtime. Especially in a rivalry game. The biggest thing is finishing, even in overtime. When you get on offense first you have to score a touchdown.''
Liufau threw for 220 yards and two TDs for Colorado, a 65-yarder to Shay Fields and a 24-yarder to Devin Ross.
The Buffs won the overtime toss and elected to start out on defense. After a roughing/targeting penalty on Jimmie Gilbert gave them a first down at the 12, the Rams stalled at the 9.
After committing four turnovers in a 23-20 loss to Minnesota last week, the Rams (1-2) missed two field goals in regulation and were stuffed on fourth-and-1 from the Colorado 24 in addition to the blocked field goal in overtime.
Colorado also had some blown chances, including a blocked field goal and Liufau's 28-yard TD pass that was negated by penalty.
''Last year, we fought and fought and fought but couldn't find a way to win it,'' Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre said. ''Tonight, we found a way to win it. We found a way to block a field goal, found a way to make a kick. ... We're still a young team but we're not babies anymore. We're growing into men.''
Olugbode sure left his teen years behind in a big way.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org