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No. 20 Kansas – First game against a ranked Jayhawk team since 1975

// Nov 14 - 1992

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November 14th – at Kansas          No. 13 Colorado 25, No.20 Kansas 18

The Kansas Jayhawks returned home to Lawrence to face the Buffs after being humbled by Nebraska, 49-7.  It was the Jayhawks’ first conference loss after averaging 33 points per game in accumulating four Big Eight wins.  With the Buffs’ falling to the Cornhuskers by an equally lopsided score the week before, the Buffs were not in a position to take the Jayhawks lightly.

An estimated crowd of 43,000, the largest crowd to witness a Colorado/Kansas game in Lawrence since 1968, watched the Buffs come out and dominate play in the first half.  Senior defensive tackle Marcellous Elder tipped a pass from Kansas quarterback Chip Hilleary late in the first quarter, with the ball landing in the arms of Elder’s linemate Leonard Renfro.  Renfro took the ball in from 18 yards out for a 7-0 Colorado lead.

A few moments later, after the Buffs’ defense had snuffed out another Jayhawk drive and Kordell Stewart had connected with Charles E. Johnson on a 54-yard fly pattern to the one yard line, junior tailback James Hill busted over a yard out for a 14-0 Colorado lead.

The Buffs lead at the half was ten points, 17-7, after Mitch Berger connected with a 37-yard field goal.

The third quarter belonged to Kansas, though, as a field goal and a 66-yard touchdown pass from Hilleary to tight end Dwayne Chandler (coupled with a two-point conversion) gave the Jayhawks an 18-17 lead late in the stanza.  Other than the Nebraska game, the one-point deficit represented the first time the Buffs had trailed in a game since the Oklahoma contest.

With eight minutes remaining and the Buffs still behind, all three units for the Buffs stepped up to pull out the win.  First, the special teams came through as punter Mitch Berger pinned the Jayhawks down at their own five-yard line.  The Buff defense then did its part, forcing a quick punt.  After Charles E. Johnson received a late hit on his punt return, the Colorado offense was in business at the Kansas 43-yard line.

Six plays later, James Hill posted his second score of the afternoon from eight yards out.  A pass from Stewart to Westbrook was good for two points and a 25-18 lead which the Buffs nursed the remaining 2:09 of the game.

“All in all, it’s a great victory for Colorado”, said a beaming Bill McCartney.  “Two weeks ago we had to die to get better and now we’re fighting back and that’s what makes me the proudest.  The kids bounced back and they want to be champions.”

That last statement was now more realistic than it had been at kickoff.

And it had little to do with the comeback win at Kansas.

Here is the YouTube video of the game, courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul:

 

CU in Miami?

Seventh ranked Nebraska, having dispatched its top two competitors for the Big Eight title by a combined score of 101-14, could have been forgiven for disregarding the Iowa State Cyclones.  After all, Iowa State was 3-6 in 1992, repeating for the most part the 3-7-1 effort from 1991.  The Cyclones had not beaten the Huskers since 1977.  Two of the Cyclones’ victories in 1992 had come against Ohio University and Tulane.

Nebraska was 7-1, 4-0 in Big Eight play, and was simply biding its time, playing out the Big Eight string on its way to Miami.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Orange Bowl ….

Led by quarterback Marv Seiler, Iowa State pulled off on of the most stunning upsets in Big Eight history, defeating Nebraska 19-10 before 42,008 in Ames.  Seiler, a fifth-year senior making his first start, ran for 144 of Iowa State’s 373 rushing yards.  “We probably overlooked Iowa State,” understated Nebraska safety Tyrone Bryd.  “We weren’t mentally prepared.”

For the Buff Nation, the score from Ames was a gift from above.  Nebraska now had a 4-1 conference mark.  The Cornhuskers were still ahead of the Buffs and Colorado’s 4-1-1 record. But, if Colorado could get past Iowa State and Nebraska fell to either Oklahoma in Norman or against Kansas State in a season-ending game to be played in Tokyo, Japan, the Buffs would be able to return to Miami after a one year absence.

First things first, however.

The Buffs’ final home game had to be won, and had to be done against the now dangerous Iowa State Cyclones.

Game Notes –

– Junior James Hill had two touchdowns against Kansas, his second two-touchdown game of the season (Kansas State). For the season, Hill had five rushing touchdowns, and was second on the team 404 yards on 107 carries. Hill’s 24 carries on the day was a season high for Buff running backs, and was a career high for Hill.

James Hill had two rushing touchdowns for the Buffs against Kansas, but the rushing game overall fared poorly. With five sacks and losses of yardage with “kneel downs” at the end of the game, Colorado overall rushed 41 times for a total of 18 yards. Previously, the low in rushing yards for Colorado in a game against the Jayhawks was 91 yards, in a 27-0 loss in 1981.

– Michael Westbrook had nine catches for 82 yards, one catch better than Jon Embree’s eight catches for 133 yards against Kansas in 1984. The yardage best also fell, as Charles E. Johnson’s eight catches were good for 166 yards, bettering Embree’s 1984 effort.

– For his 15-tackle (12 solo), one sack, 18-yard interception return for a touchdown effort against Kansas, Leonard Renfro was named the Colorado Athlete-of-the-Week, the Big Eight Player-of-the-Week, and the Sports Illustrated national Defensive Player-of-the-Week. Renfro would go on to join linebacker Greg Biekert, cornerback Ronnie Bradford, linebacker Chad Brown, cornerback Deon Figures, and linebacker Ron Woolfork on the Big Eight Coaches’ All-Big Eight first-team (the only Colorado offensive player to be named to the first team was wide receiver Michael Westbrook).

– Kansas finished the 1992 regular season with three consecutive losses, losing to Nebraska, Colorado, and Missouri to fall out of the national rankings. A 23-20 victory over BYU in the Aloha Bowl, and the 8-4 Jayhawks finished the 1992 season with a No. 22 national ranking.  The 1992 Aloha Bowl was the first bowl game for the Kansas program since the 1981 Hall of Fame Classic against Mississippi State, and the first bowl victory for the Jayhawks since the 1961 team defeated Rice, 33-7, in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

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