October 4th – Boulder No. 12 Oklahoma 82, Colorado 42
The score says it all.
If you have never seen these numbers before, consider yourself fortunate. The headline in the October 5, 1980, Rocky Mountain News was: “Buffs humiliated by Sooners 82-42”. The statistics border on the unbelievable. The total number of points scored by two teams, 124, set a modern day NCAA record, as did the total number of touchdowns by both teams (18). In all, at least 51 NCAA, Big Eight Conference, Colorado/Oklahoma team, or Folsom Field records were broken – and five more tied (though many have since been passed).
No one was disillusioned with the belief that 0-3 Colorado was going to upset 12th-ranked Oklahoma. Still, for an ever so brief moment, it looked as if the Buffs, though reeling, might stay with the Sooners. After Oklahoma had gone up 14-0, Buff freshman Walter Stanley ran the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-7 with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
The Sooners quickly responded with a 20-yard touchdown run by Buster Ryhmes to run the score to 21-7, but, with the aid of a pass interference penalty taking the ball to the Sooner three-yard line, Colorado pushed the ball over on a Willie Beebe run, and the second quarter scoreboard read 21-14. CU hadn’t stopped the Sooners, but had shown an ability to score as well. Maybe there was hope. At the half, the score was a respectable 34-21.
Good news, bad news. First the good news: at least Colorado had scored some points in the first half of a game. Now the bad news: Oklahoma had not scored in the first half of its first two games, but had scored five touchdowns in the first thirty minutes against CU.
Unfortunately, matters only deteriorated from there.
In the second half, Oklahoma continued to roll, scoring 48 points. The Buffs only consolation was the posting of 21 points to match their total from the first half.
For the game, the Sooners numbers were incredible: 758 yards rushing on 73 carries. Throw in 117 yards passing and the Oklahoma total yardage for the day was 875 yards of offense. Oklahoma never punted, and only two fumbles prevented further carnage. It was a rout in every sense of the word.
Associated Press writer Steve Harvey had a column in the early 1980’s, dubbed the “Bottom 10”. Rankings were awarded along the same concept as with the Top 20, but were the inverse to the best teams in the nation. The only saving grace keeping Colorado, at 0-4, from being “ranked” as the worst team in the nation after the Oklahoma game, was that the Buffs shared the #1 ranking with the other two state teams. That same weekend, Air Force out of Colorado Springs was beaten 17-16 by Yale to fall to 0-4-1, while the Colorado State Rams from Fort Collins succumbed 69-0 to Iowa State.
It was small consolation to Buff fans that the state’s other schools were having equally poor seasons.
Here is a YouTube video with “highlights” from the game, dug up by CU at the Gamer Paul:
Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines “nadir” as: “the lowest point”. Nadir is the only appropriate way to describe the Colorado/Oklahoma game. The records, of course, speak for themselves. For me and Mark Watson, an aerospace engineering freshman who also lived on Second East floor in Libby Hall, though, the game became an odyssey. While many Buff fans left early, for us the game was like driving by an accident on the highway: You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help but watch.
Two players from the 1980 Colorado/Oklahoma track meet are locked forever into my memory. The first is Darrell Shepard, the backup quarterback for Oklahoma. I didn’t know his name at the time, but his stats were easy to remember. Three rushes for 151 yards – a nifty 50.3 yards per carry average. He may have been a tailback on the day, but I remember him as the quarterback, and I remember his carries.
All afternoon, Oklahoma ran the triple option right. The Colorado players knew it. The Colorado coaches knew it. Drunken frat boys in the student section knew it. Everyone in the stadium knew the play was coming. The Buffs just could not stop the Sooners’ backs. Oklahoma’s 758 yards rushing attests to the lack of a need for a passing game. Colorado just didn’t have the horses to keep up.
There is the story that Fairbanks, as a former OU coach, contacted Sooner head coach Barry Switzer through assistants in the press box. The plea, sent in the second half, was to stop running the option and just run up the middle. I don’t know if the story is true, or if the Sooners coaching staff was sympathetic. Even if Oklahoma complied, it didn’t help Colorado much, as the Sooners scored 48 points in the second half.
The second player I remember from that October afternoon was a Buff. I remember him as the right cornerback, and his number being #6. I didn’t know his name at the time, but the stats sheet from the game identifies Colorado #6 as defensive back Tim Stampley. Perhaps it was for the best that we didn’t know his name in the stands, for to us, #6 became known simply as the “designated chaser”. Baseball has a designated hitter, and CU, for this game anyway, had it’s designated chaser.
Lining up against the wide out on the left side of the Sooner offense, the designated chaser for the Buffs had limited action in defending against the passing game. Instead, it seemed to us that Stampley had a singular role. As the cornerback away from the flow of the play, his role was to run across the field, as Oklahoma ran its triple option right, and chase the OU quarterback or tailback all the way into the endzone as they ran for yet another long touchdown. He was not responsible, mind you, for actually catching and tackling the OU ball carrier, but simply chasing the back all the way to the endzone.
It was almost as if the Buffs didn’t mind the touchdowns – but didn’t want to be embarrassed by having the touchdown scored by a Sooner walking to the goalline.
The other macabre reason for sitting through the 82-42 annihilation, at least from a home town fan standpoint, was to see if the scoreboard at CU could hold 100 points. We were unsure whether this had been considered as a possibility when the scoreboard had been ordered. After all, at the time, the most CU had ever scored in a game was 65 (v. Arizona in 1958) and the most given up to an opponent was 63 (v. Nebraska in 1975 – a 103-0 loss to Colorado Mines in CU’s inaugural season of 1890 notwithstanding). For better or worse, the scoreboard was not tested, and CU had to settle for being ignominiously mentioned in the national media for the second time in as many weeks.
Game Notes –
– Walter Stanley is remembered by Buff fans for a number of records, but mostly for his kickoff and punt returns. Ironically enough, the 100-yard kickoff return for a score against Oklahoma was Stanley’s only kickoff return touchdown as a Buff.
– The 42 points put up against the Sooners, oddly enough, tied the most-ever for Colorado against Oklahoma (the Buffs defeated the Sooners, 42-31, in 1976). That record would stand until 1994, when Colorado routed Oklahoma, 45-7.
As noted, there were dozens of individual, team, conference, and NCAA records set on October 4, 1980 (some records, mercifully, have since been passed):
– Most points scored, both teams: 124 (this record lasted until 2001 – Middle Tennessee State 70, Idaho 58, for 128 total points)
– Most touchdowns scored, both teams: 18
Big Eight records:
– Most Extra points attempted, game: 11 (Michael Keeling)
– Highest average gain per kickoff return, game: 53.3 (CU’s Walter Stanley – 3 for 160 yards)
– Most yards gained, Colorado and opponent: 1,205 (OU 875; CU 330)
– Most points scored losing a game: 42
– Highest kickoff return average, game: 44.8
– Most touchdowns allowed, game: 12
– Most touchdowns allowed, rushing, game: 10
– Most yards allowed, game: 875
– Most rushing yards allowed, game: 758
– Most points allowed, game: 82
– Most rushing yards, opponent, game: 258 (David Overstreet)
– Highest rushing average, opponent, game: 50.3 (Darrell Shepard – 3-for-151)
– Most extra points attempted, opponent, game: 11 (Michael Keeling)
– Most extra points made, opponent, game: 10 (Michael Keeling)
Of course, all of the above are also Folsom Field records, but you get the idea ….