September 14th – Boulder #23 Baylor 16, #12 Colorado 14
Baylor kicker Jeff Ireland’s 35-yard field goal with 0:51 remaining gave the Baylor Bears an unlikely 16-14 win over the Colorado Buffaloes. Ireland’s third field goal of the game came about as a direct result of a blocked field goal attempt by Colorado kicker Jim Harper. Up 14-13 with just over three minutes to play, the Buffs lined up for a 24-yard field goal to give the Buffs a 17-13 lead. Instead, Satana Dotson blocked the kick, with the ball eventually recovered by the Bears on the Buffs’ 30-yard line, some 65 yards downfield. Three plays later, Ireland sent the Buffs and a stunned crowd of 50,754 home with the Buffs first loss at home in fifteen games.
Baylor owned the first half of the game in every category, including a remarkable 20:50-9:10 edge in time of possession. Still, the halftime score was 7-3, Colorado, as the Buffs posted the only touchdown of the half, a 26-yard pass from Darian Hagan to senior tight end Sean Brown. Baylor, responded in the second half, scoring ten unanswered points in the third quarter to pull ahead, 13-7, going into the final fifteen minutes. Colorado finally regained the lead, 14-13, on the first play of the final stanza, on a Kent Kahl’s 10-yard scoring run.
With just over three minutes remaining, the Buffs seemed to have the game under control. Lining up for a 24-yard chip shot field goal, Jim Harper was in a position to force the Bears to score a touchdown to win. After Dotson’s block and subsequent scramble for the ball put the ball deep in Colorado territory, though, it was the Baylor kicker who was the hero.
The unexpected loss resulted in a poll free fall for the 1-1 Buffs. In the AP poll, Colorado dropped from #12 to #19, while Baylor jumped from 23rd to 14th with the win. Colorado was not only distancing itself from the national title chase, but it also appeared that the Buffs were to be also-rans in the Big Eight. While the Buffs were stumbling, Oklahoma and Nebraska were both undefeated and in the top ten (Oklahoma 7th; Nebraska 9th).
A year earlier, Colorado was 1-1-1 after a loss to Illinois, falling to 20th in the polls. The 1990 Buffs responded with ten straight wins and a national title.
The question Colorado fans were left to mumble to themselves as they left with an unexpected defeat: Would the 1991 Buffs fare as well?
“This can’t be happening!”, I screamed, but only in my head.
“Nooooo!!!!” was all that came out. My cries joined in unison with those of 50,000 others, but it was to no avail.
The ball was coming towards us, a blocked kick which would signal the end of a team record 15 straight home wins. In the scramble, I actually found myself secretly hoping that a Baylor player would pick up the ball and run the ball in for a touchdown. True, a touchdown would give the Buffs a 20-14 deficit, but it would also give the ball back to the Buffs with three minutes to play and a chance to pull out the win. Instead, we had to watch helplessly as the Bears ran down the clock before kicking the game winning field goal.
Almost exactly ten years earlier, a similar fate befell the Buffs. Up 10-0 against Washington State late in the 1981 game, the Buffs also suffered from botched special teams play. Against the Cougars, the Buffs had not one but two punts blocked in the waning moments, the second returned for a touchdown. Looking for a shutout with only four minutes to play, Colorado wound up losing, 14-10. Departing disheartened from Folsom Field ten years later, I couldn’t help but recall the feeling of the Washingto State game.
In 1981, the Buffs went on to finish 3-8. That couldn’t happen to this team, could it? Not to the defending national champions!
That was then; this was now.
Or so we hoped.
Game Notes -
- The loss gave Baylor a 4-3 edge in the all-time series against Colorado, including a 21-9 win in the 1986 Bluebonnet Bowl. The Buffs would go on to defeat the Bears, though, in 1992 and 1993, entering Big 12 play against Baylor with a 5-4 series edge.
- The 1991 game marked only the second time Colorado had faced a ranked Baylor team. In the only previous meeting with the Bears ranked, in 1966, the Buffs, with an 0-1 record on the season, stunned the 10th-ranked Bears in Waco, 13-7.
- Junior linebacker Greg Biekert continued his dominating play. After leading the Big Eight in tackles in 1990, with 150, Biekert recorded 21 tackles (11 solo) against Baylor. Biekert would go on to a first-team All-Big Eight season in 1991, again leading the Buffs in tackles, with 139.
- Senior tight end Sean Brown had the best game of his Colorado career in the Baylor game, catching four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Despite never going over 60 yards in any one game in 1991, Brown would lead the team in catches in 1991, with 24 (for 300 yards and four touchdowns).
- Colorado had to settle for a tied school record after the home loss to Baylor. The win over Wyoming gave the Buffs a 15-game home winning streak, tying the effort posted by the Buffs between 1908 and 1912.
- Baylor would go on to open the 1991 season with a five game winning streak, rising as high as 8th in the polls. Four losses in the final seven games, however, including a 24-0 loss to Indiana in the Copper Bowl, left the Bears 8-4 and unranked. Defensive lineman Santa Dotson, the hero of the Colorado game, earned consensus All-American honors.