DENVER — Alex Kelley turned in Colorado’s first TD of the season. Quite an achievement for an offensive lineman.

Sefo Liufau threw for 318 yards to become Colorado’s all-time leading passer and Kelley recovered a fumble for a score as the Buffaloes rolled past Colorado State 44-7 on Friday night.

“I didn’t know I scored until I ran off the field,” said Kelley, who jumped on Liufau’s fumble in the end zone. “Everyone said I scored and I celebrated then.”

Kelley’s next mission: Find that football. It’s the first TD of his life. He’s never so much as had one in practice.

Tailback Phillip Lindsay had two TDs for Colorado (1-0), which built a 37-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The defense did its part, forcing four turnovers and bottling up the Rams (0-1) all evening.

Liufau made an unexpectedly quick recovery from left foot surgery to return for his senior season. He showed he’s up to speed by rushing for 66 yards. He also threw one TD pass.

“This version of Sefo we have right now is way better (than before he was hurt),” Kelley said. “His passion for the game? I feel like it’s never been this high. His work ethic? Never been this high. You could see it tonight — it was on point most of the night. He’s completely better than before.”

On Colorado’s opening possession, Liufau surpassed Cody Hawkins (7,409 yards, 2007-10) as the school’s leading passer. Later on that drive, Liufau fumbled going into the end zone, but his center, Kelley, pounced on the loose football — the first score by a Colorado offensive lineman since Heath Irwin on Oct. 28, 1995.

“I’m happy for Alex,” said Liufau, whose team had 578 yards of total offense. “But I should take care of the football.”

Colorado State coach Mike Bobo kept his starting quarterback secret until game time. Starter Nick Stevens never found his rhythm, finishing 6 of 20 for 31 yards and two interceptions. His backup, Georgia transfer Faton Bauta, provided a late spark. Bauta threw a 5-yard TD pass to Marcus Wilson to start the fourth quarter. It prevented the first shutout in the series since 1957.

“It’s embarrassing. Totally embarrassed our name,” Bobo said. “There’s only one (thing) we’ve got to do, we’ve got to go back to work. We can talk about a lot of things, what ifs. Bottom line, we got our tails whipped tonight.”

QUITE A GRAB

Colorado receiver Bryce Bobo turned in a nifty one-handed grab down the left sideline just before halftime. It set up a Lindsay score to give the Buffaloes a 31-0 lead.

“A couple of plays before that, I dropped a wide open pass. It hit me dead in the hands,” Bobo explained. “Sefo gave me a chance to go deep and threw me the ball again. It happened to be a one-handed catch. I work on one-handed catches in practice. It paid off.”

QB QUANDARY

Mike Bobo will reassess his muddy QB situation as both Stevens and Bauta failed to ignite the offense.

“We really weren’t executing anywhere, not just the quarterback position,” Bobo said. “We’ve got to be able to throw the ball more than we did tonight, at a higher percentage.

“We’ll reassess it and figure out who gives us the best chance to win next week.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado State: Shake it off. The Rams were an 8 1/2-point underdog, anyway. Mike Bobo and his team started 1-2 last season and still went to the Arizona Bowl.

Colorado: This takes some pressure off coach Mike MacIntyre, who’s on the hot seat entering his fourth season. His career record at Colorado is now 11-27. With a veteran-laden squad, the Buffaloes are trying to earn their first bowl trip since 2007.

“This is the best football team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” MacIntyre said.

UP NEXT

Colorado State: Host University of Texas at San Antonio, Sept. 10. Beat the Roadrunners 33-31 last season.

Colorado: Host Idaho State, Sept. 10. It’s the first meeting between the two schools. Colorado is 4-2 all-time against FCS teams.