November 2nd – at Missouri No. 7 Colorado 41, Missouri 13
By the time the Colorado/Missouri game rolled around the first week of November in 1996, the Missouri Tigers had already matched their win total for all of 1995.
For head coach Larry Smith, that was the good news. The bad news was that the Tigers had only won three games in 1995, posting a 3-8 record. Missouri was 3-4 in 1996, and faced the Buffs with a 1-3 record in Big 12 play.
Still, that one Big 12 victory had come the weekend before the game against the Buffs, a 35-28 victory over Oklahoma State. So Missouri, while not a ranked team by any means, was not a team to be taken lightly by the Buffs.
Colorado responded to the challenge, rolling to a 41-13 win, the Buffs 12th straight in the series.
Quarterback Koy Detmer and wide receiver Rae Carruth took turns setting records in the second half as a 14-10 halftime lead became a rout. Detmer passed for a school-record 457 yards for the game, while at the same time passing Kordell Stewart’s 1993 single season record for passing yards of 2,299 (Detmer’s total for 1996 was 2,391 yards after the Missouri game, and still counting).
Detmer’s three touchdown passes (two to Carruth), gave him 35 for his career, also passing a mark established by Kordell Stewart. Carruth hauled in seven receptions for 222 yards, tying Walter Stanley’s 1981 record for most receiving yards in a single game. With his seven catches on the day, Carruth added to his school record (19 and counting) of consecutive games with at least three receptions.
For the day, the Buffs rolled up 562 yards of total offense.
Records aside, the Tigers fought the Buffs hard for over two quarters of play. A 22-yard field goal by Missouri was the only scoring by either team in the first 21 minutes of play on a cold (35 degrees) and blustery (10-15 mph) November afternoon.
Colorado finally got on the board midway through the second period on a 69-yard touchdown pass from Detmer to Carruth. Missouri responded with its only touchdown of the game to take its last lead, 10-7, with 2:39 to play before halftime.
The Buff offense then drove 89 yards in just under two minutes of playing time, with Lendon Henry doing the honors from four yards out, with just 40 seconds to play before halftime.
Colorado slowly took control of the game in the third quarter, with two 34-yard touchdown passes (ironically enough, both coming on fourth down) sandwiched around a Missouri field goal. The first touchdown pass went to Carruth on a fourth-and-12; the second to Phil Savoy on a fourth-and-7, with Savoy’s touchdown giving Colorado a 28-13 lead a few plays into in the fourth quarter.
A two-yard touchdown run by red-shirt freshman Dwayne Cherrington, the first of his career, upped the lead to 34-13 (the kick was blocked), with a 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown by sophomore cornerback Marcus Washington closing out the scoring with 4:07 to play.
Final score: Colorado 41; Missouri 13.
After the game, praise for both Colorado record-setters flowed after the game. Koy Detmer on Rae Carruth: “Every time we play he does something to amaze me”. Missouri cornerback Shad Criss on Detmer: “That guy can throw the ball; he should win the Heisman”. Colorado head coach Rick Neuheisel on both: “We’re real pleased with the victory. Detmer and Carruth hooked up time and time again … you hope that you’d get that from big-time performers, but it’s always nice to see it happen in the flesh.”
With the victory, Colorado moved to 7-1 on the 1996 season, 5-0 in Big 12 play. The Buffs did not receive any assistance nationally, however, as all six teams ranked above Colorado also won (Nebraska beat Oklahoma that weekend by an embarrassing score of 73-21).
Still, the Buffs largely controlled their own destiny. After a date with 2-6 Iowa State, Colorado had games against two ranked teams, Kansas State (sitting at No. 13 after moving up a spot during its bye week) and No. 5 Nebraska.
A Big 12 championship, and a shot at the national championship, were still there for the taking.
Game Notes -
- Against Missouri, wide receiver Rae Carruth had a day for the ages. His seven catches went for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Carruth was, not surprisingly, named the Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Week for his efforts. The 222 yards matched the team record 222 yards posted by Walter Stanley in the 1981 season opener against Texas Tech, a record which would stand until 2011 when Paul Richardson went for 284 yards on 11 catches against California.
- Carruth would go on to finish the 1996 season with 54 catches for 1,116 yards and eight touchdowns. His 1,000-yard season was just the fifth in school history, but Carruth’s second in succession (1,008 yards in 1995). Carruth was named to the first-team All-Big 12 team, also earning first-team All-American honors from The Sporting News (second team from the Associated Press and Football News). Carruth was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s top wide receiver.
- Quarterback Koy Detmer also had a great day against Missouri. Detmer passed for a school-record 457 yards for the game, surpassing his own record of 426 yards set against Northeast Louisiana in 1995. Detmer also past Kordell Stewart’s 1993 single season record for passing yards of 2,299 (Detmer’s total for 1996 was 2,391 yards after the Missouri game, and counting).
- Detmer’s three touchdown passes (two to Carruth), gave him 35 for his career, also passing a mark established by Kordell Stewart.
- Dwayne Cherrington scored his only touchdown of the 1996 season against Missouri. Cherrington would go on to finish third on the team in rushing, posting 168 yards on 28 carries (a six-yard per carry average).
- Senior linebacker Matt Russell had 23 tackles against Missouri, 12 solo. Both totals matched the season-high numbers put up by safety Ryan Black earlier in the season against Michigan.