Arizona's offensive line surged, and another running lane appeared, as wide and smooth and green as the UA mall on homecoming.
Ka'Deem Carey lowered his head and chopped his feet. Carey had, he said later, an obligation to run to daylight.
"When you see a big hole like that, you just know your front line did what it has to do," Carey said. "I mean, I'm gassed, but I have to do what I have to do.
"What am I going to do - fall down?" Carey set the Pac-12 Conference's single-game rushing record, quarterback B.J. Denker stewarded an uptempo offense to perfection and the Arizona Wildcats pounded Colorado 56-31 Saturday afternoon at Arizona Stadium.
The victory, which came in front of 51,236 fans and made Arizona bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010, was both exhausting and maddening at times. For Carey and his teammates, though, it was a good kind of tired.
The UA gained 574 yards of offense, an 11 yards-per-play average.
Carey led the way, rushing for a program-and-conference-record 366 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries. His rushing performance stands as the ninth-best in the history of Div. I FBS (formerly Div. I-A) football.
The Canyon del Oro High School product also caught two passes for 34 yards, giving him a school-record 400 all-purpose yards, breaking Art Luppino's 359 mark set in 1954.
Carey's 71-yard gallop late in the third quarter put him over the 300-yard mark and broke the UA's single-game record previously held by Trung Canidate. With 10 minutes 16 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Carey rattled off a 64-yarder that smashed the conference's 28-year-old rushing mark. Washington State's Ruben Mayes gained 357 yards against Oregon in 1984.
He wasn't done.
One play later, Carey set the UA record for rushing touchdowns (five) in a game. The previous record of four was set by a handful of players, most recently Keola Antolin.
While Carey ran wild, Denker - a spot starter for injured Matt Scott - cut up a beleaguered CU defense. Denker completed 12 of 14 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start; the junior college transfer also ran nine times for 44 yards and a score. His pass efficiency rating of 214.5 was better than anything Scott posted all year.
The fill-in quarterback did a good job of riding herd against the Buffaloes, too; on a few occasions, he threw open-field blocks to help spring Arizona's star running back.
"B.J. came in, and he managed the game well," said receiver Dan Buckner, who caught both of Denker's touchdown passes. "I told him, 'You don't have to do everything. You just have to do what you need to do.'
"He ran it, he pulled it when he needed to, and he got the ball to the outsides and to the slot receivers when he needed to."
Things started terribly.
Denker and Carey fumbled the quarterback-running back exchange on Arizona's first offensive play, and Colorado recovered at the Wildcats' 7.
One play later, Christian Powell ran in a touchdown to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Denker and Carey bucked up, driving the team 80 yards; the tailback's 10-yard touchdown tied things up.
CU took a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter before Arizona got its offense going. The Wildcats outscored Colorado 42-7 in the second and third quarters combined.
"We were prepared to throw it more, if we had to," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "But we were running so well, and it's safer. And when you have a guy as hot as Ka'Deem was, you just keep feeding him."
Denker didn't seem to mind.
"We knew they were either going to let me run the ball, or they were going to let Ka'Deem run the ball," he said. "For some reason they let Ka'Deem run the ball. It's not a smart move.…
"I had the best seat in the house. And I had the best time handing the ball off and watching him work."
Arizona (6-4 overall, 3-4 Pac-12) became bowl-eligible with the win. The Wildcats can improve their postseason destination by winning either of their remaining regular season games; the UA travels to Utah next week before finishing against Arizona State in Tucson.
Scott could be back under center as soon as next week.
Denker hinted that Saturday's start was a one-time thing, but Rodriguez was mostly mum on the subject.
Scott suffered a concussion against UCLA a week ago, a week after taking a beating from USC's defenders.
"I'm probably not the right person" to comment on Scott's timetable, Rodriguez said. "Matt's feeling better every day. We're feeling hopeful."
Saturday, thanks to Carey, "hopeful" was the perfect word.
"He's going to get the nation's attention with this one," center Kyle Quinn said.
"The results on the field speak for themselves."
On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/gallery for more photos from Arizona's win.
Carey-ing the load
25 • 366 • 14.6 • 5
Ka'Deem Carey's carries, yards, yards per attempt and rushing TDs in Saturday's win. The 366 yards is a Pac-12 and Arizona single-game record.
• What: Arizona at Utah
• When: Saturday, time TBA (TV also TBA)
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM