October 24th – Boulder No. 9 Colorado 54, Kansas State 7
The 9th-ranked Buffs controlled an entire game for the first time in 1992, dominating Kansas State 54-7. Colorado scored early and often, raising the home team total on the scoreboard on seven of its first 11 possessions in cruising to a 30-0 halftime lead before a sold-out Folsom Field crowd of 52,235. The Wildcats, with a respectable 3-2 record coming into Boulder, left town without an offensive touchdown, scoring only on a an interception return after the game was well in hand.
The Colorado defense let the Kansas State offense know it was in for a long afternoon on the first series, as the Wildcats gained zero yards on three plays before punting. On the Buffs’ first possession, Kordell Stewart led the offensive unit on an eight-play, 74-yard drive, culminated in a two-yard pass from Stewart to tight end Christian Fauria. Two short drives – one after an interception, the other after a long punt return by Deon Figures - gave junior kicker Mitch Berger the opportunity to connect on two short field goals (of 25 and 23 yards), giving Colorado a 13-0 lead.
The Buffs already had more points than would prove necessary for victory, but given ample opportunities by the defense, the Colorado offense poured it on. Freshman running back Rashaan Salaam scored his first career touchdown on a two-yard run to put the Buffs up 20-0. A 16-play, 65-yard drive in the middle of the second quarter removed all doubt about which team would carry the day. This time, Stewart did the honors himself, scoring on a nine-yard run to up the lead to 27-0. The halftime score was 30-0, thanks to another short field goal (of 24 yards) with just nine seconds left before halftime.
After Berger connected on his fourth field goal of the afternoon of under 30 yards (this one from 29 yards out), Kansas State scored its only points of the afternoon late in the third quarter. A 52-yard interception return by C.J. Masters gave the Wildcats a brief moment to celebrate, but the Buffs restored order in the fourth quarter, scoring three more touchdowns. Junior tailback James Hill scored on runs of two and 15 yards, and Duke Tobin hit freshman Rae Carruth for a 20-yard score to close out the satisfying victory.
“It would be an understatement to say that the defense was dominant”, said McCartney. “The fact of the matter is I can’t remember a time our defense was so dominant in a game.” The numbers backed up the Buffs’ head coach. Kansas State was held to three first downs (0-for-10 on third down attempts), 47 offensive plays, and 16 total yards (the last record being a team and Big Eight record). The ineptitude of the Wildcats’ offense led to thirteen punts, ten of which were returned for 167 yards by senior cornerback and kick return specialist Deon Figures. Both of Figures’ numbers set school records, with the yardage record surpassing a mark set by Byron “Whizzer” White against Utah in 1936.
The Buffs were now 6-0-1, 2-0-1 in conference play. As fate would have it, when the Associated Press poll came out the week after the Kansas State game, Colorado was tied for 8th in the nation with 1,046 total points.
The team the Buffs were tied with? It was none other than the opponent up next on the calendar – the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
- Mitch Berger, who in substituting for the ailing Pat Blottiaux against Oklahoma, had kicked the game tying 53-yarder as time expired, got the starting nod against Kansas State, and went four-for-four, connecting from 25, 23, 24, and 29 yards.
- The Colorado offense ran an incredible 105 offensive plays against Kansas State, setting a school record. The previous high was 100 plays, run against Air Force in 1970 (a 49-19 win over No. 10 Air Force, in a game which was played at Colorado Springs).
- The Buffs offense was diverse, with the offense running 55 rushing plays (for 176 yards) and 50 passing plays (for 338 yards). Not surprisingly, the Buffs held the ball for a season high 39:17 of game clock. The Buffs also set a new school record for third down conversions made (14, out of 23 attempts), breaking the old record of 13 set against Oklahoma State in 1989.
- For the offensive to have those numbers, the defense had to be setting some new standards as well. The Colorado defense had 1992 season best numbers in first downs allowed (3), fewest rushing attempts (24), fewest rushing yards (-24), fewest passing yards (40), fewest total plays (47), and fewest total yards (16).
- The three first downs allowed was not a school record (the record being zero, with Nebraska earning zero first downs against the Buffs in 1961 – a 7-0 Colorado victory in Lincoln). The 1961 Nebraska game also set the standard for fewest total plays allowed, 35, five fewer than Kansas State ran in 1992. Also not a school record was the fewest rushes allowed (24), with the record being 21 against Stanford in 1987 (a 31-17 Colorado victory).
- The minus-24 yards rushing, surprisingly, was not a school record, either, as the 1975 Buff defense “held” Wichita State to a minus-40 yards rushing (in 31 attempts) in a 52-0 rout.
- The 16 yards of total offense allowed to Kansas State, though, did set a team and Big Eight record. The previous best for any Colorado defense had been 31 yards allowed, again stemming from the infamous Nebraska game in 1961.
- The last record, fewest total yards allowed (16), also set a new team record. The previous best for a Colorado defense came in 1961, when the Buffs held Nebraska to 31 total yards in a 7-0 victory in Lincoln.
- Freshman running back Rashaan Salaam scored his first career touchdown against Kansas State. Salaam’s totals on the day, 14 carries for 75 yards, were season highs. Battling an ankle sprain all season, Salaam finished the 1992 season third on the team in rushing, going for 158 yards on 27 carries.
- Another freshman, receiver Rae Carruth, also scored his first career touchdown in the Kansas State game. Carruth’s five catches for 67 yards would also prove to be season highs. The freshman would go on to finish the 1992 season with 14 catches for 161 yards.
- On his way to the Thorpe Award for being the nation’s best defensive back, Deon Figures also led the team in punt returns, with 42 returns for 479 yards. His ten returns against Kansas State broke the school record of nine returns, set by Jeff Campbell against Missouri in 1986, while his yardage record of 167 yards eclipsed Byron “Whizzer” White’s 56-year old record of 159 yards, set against Utah in 1936 (it is worthy of note that White set his record of 159 yards on only three returns. White’s 53.0 yard average per return is a record not likely to be broken!).
- Sophomore tight end Christian Fauria had his best day in 1992 against Kansas State. His four catches for 67 yards, including a two-yard touchdown catch, were season highs.
- Junior wide receiver Charles E. Johnson had eight catches for 104 yards against the Wildcats. It was his third straight game catching passes going for at least 100 yards, an accomplishment never before achieved by a Colorado receiver. At the conclusion of the 1992 season, the CU athletic department had to create two new categories in the record book – Most 100-yard receiving games, Season; and Most 100-yard receiving games, Career. After the 1992 season, Johnson had both records, with six. (Johnson would go on to have six more 100-yards games in his senior year, to up his career record to 12).
- Freshman offensive guard Chris Hammond earned his first career start against Kansas State. Hammond would go on to start five of the final six games of the 1992 season.
- Another freshman who received his first start against Kansas State was defensive lineman Shannon Clavelle. Originally slated to red-shirt in 1992, Clavelle saw action in nine games, earning three starts. Clavelle was selected by the Big Eight coaches as the league’s Freshman Newcomer-of-the-Year on defense, and was tabbed as a third-team All-American by The Football News. Clavelle had six tackles against Kansas State, finishing the season with 29 total tackles.
- Kansas State would go on to win only two Big Eight Conference games in 1992, but did finish with a 5-6 overall record (thanks to Bill Snyder’s non-conference scheduling, which included wins over Montana, Temple, and New Mexico State).