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Colorado falters in 2nd half, drops 5th straight with 38-23 loss to Washington

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BOULDER, Colorado — Don't mention numbers to Sefo Liufau — not right now, anyway. Not after his team's fifth straight loss.

The Colorado quarterback set a school-record for completions in a season during a 38-23 loss to Washington on Saturday.

But that hardly mattered because for the seventh straight season, the Buffaloes (2-7, 0-6 Pac-12) won't be headed to a bowl game.

This loss cemented that reality.

"I don't know how much numbers count for if you don't have the win," said Liufau, who completed 36 passes Saturday to give him 274 and break the single-season mark (241) set by Joel Klatt in 2005. "It's glamorous to have the records. That's nice. Overall, everyone here is for the team. We want to get team success over individual success."

For a change, Colorado actually jumped out to an early lead.

And then, poof, it quickly vanished. Just the way the season has gone.

The Buffaloes turned the ball over four times, including Travis Feeney's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown. They also had a special teams breakdown, which allowed an 87-yard punt return for a score by Dante Pettis.

If that wasn't enough, Colorado couldn't stop linebacker-turned-tailback Shaq Thompson, who rushed for 174 yards and a score as the Huskies (6-3, 2-3) snapped a two-game slide.

And now, with no bowl game as an incentive, the Buffaloes try to pick up the pieces. After all, there are still three games still left.

PHOTO: Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau directs his team against Washington in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau directs his team against Washington in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

"You can't just throw the rest of the season away and say it's over with," said Liufau, who threw an interception and lost a fumble. "You have an opportunity to continue to build, continue to learn and get better. That's the way we have to look at it."

After being outscored 45-0 in the first quarter by USC and UCLA the past two weeks, the Buffaloes jumped out to a 10-7 lead. Liufau found D.D. Goodson for a 30-yard touchdown on their initial drive of the game. It was the first lead the Buffaloes have had over Washington since joining the Pac-12.

They took a 20-17 lead into the locker room, only to have the game unravel from there — getting outscored 21-3 in the second half.

Pettis hauled in a 28-yard TD pass from Cyler Miles and the extra point gave the Huskies their first lead with 5:38 remaining in the third. A minute later, Feeney stepped in front of a Liufau pass and returned it for a score.

Pettis finished off the scoring with his punt return early in the fourth.

Just when the Buffaloes have one area figured out — in this case, their slow starts — something else develops.

"Got to keep finding a way to be an overall football team," coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Just very, very disheartening.

"We kind of gave them the game."

MacIntyre knew this wasn't going to be a quick fix when he arrived in Boulder. It was going to take time.

"When I came here, we were the worst BCS program in the country," MacIntyre said. "We're in fourth quarters. We're in football games. We're going to win some. We're going to get there. So I don't look at this like, 'Oh, the world is coming to an end' by any stretch."

Nelson Spruce set a school record too, finishing with 13 catches to give him 90 receptions and broke the single-season record set by Paul Richardson last year.

"Even though we're not bowl eligible anymore, we still need to attack every game, like we're still fighting for a bowl game," Spruce said. "If we do let off the gas at all, we're going to fall back and lose all the progress we made. I don't think the team's mentality will be hurt at all after this."

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PHOTO: Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, center, is sacked by Washington defensive linemen Danny Shelton, left, and Andrew Hudson in the fourth quarter of Washington's 38-23 victory in an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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