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No. 22 Texas Tech – Defense shines as Buffs become bowl-eligible

// Oct 17 - 1998

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October 17th – Boulder           No. 19 Colorado 19, No. 22 Texas Tech 17

Another day, another ranked, undefeated team coming to Boulder.

While Kansas State was predicted to face Colorado as an undefeated team, the same could not have been said for Texas Tech before the start of the 1998 season.

Yet the Red Raiders were 6-0, 3-0 in Big 12 play, and were one of the pleasant surprises of the 1998 season. 6-5 in 1997, Texas Tech had been tarnished by allegations of “academic irregularities”, and had lost scholarships after an NCAA investigation. The “other” Ricky Williams, not the Ricky Williams who was garnering all of the media attention for Texas, had led Tech to an unblemished mark, including wins over Fresno State, 34-28, and Baylor, 31-29, scores which were eerily similar in nature to the CU wins over the same teams.

Entering Folsom Field, the Red Raiders, at No. 22 in the polls, were ranked for the first time in 1998.

Building, if a team can build on a loss, from the strong defensive effort posted against Kansas State, Colorado parlayed tough defense and four Jeremy Aldrich field goals into a satisfying 19-17 win over Texas Tech. In posting its third conference win (all by a margin of two points), the Buffs took advantage of three Red Raider turnovers in putting together the best overall effort of the season since the CSU win.

Colorado forced three first quarter turnovers, setting the tone for the game. The first came on an interception by freshman safety Michael Lewis in the end zone, ending a Texas Tech scoring threat. The second came on a fumble recovery by senior defensive lineman Nick Ziegler. That recovery set in motion a five-play, 59-yard drive culminated in a 27-yard Jeremy Aldrich field goal to give CU a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter.

On Texas Tech’s next possession, senior Marcus Washington intercepted another Red Raider offering, returning the pick 20 yards to the Texas Tech 36-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Mike Moschetti scrambled for 22 yards to the 14. From there, though, it became tough sledding, taking the Buffs six more plays to score. On third-and-goal at the Texas Tech four yard line, Damion Barton took a Moschetti pitch and went in untouched, giving CU a 10-0 lead just over a minute into the second quarter.

The joy for the 48,969 who braved the 44-degree weather (and 10 mph winds, making it all the cooler) was short-lived, however. Texas Tech took only two minutes to drive 77 yards, capped by a 25-yard pass from Rob Peters to Darrel Jones to cut the lead to 10-7. The teams then swapped short field goals before the half, with Jeremy Aldrich hitting from 19 yards out after the Buffs’ drive stalled at the Texas Tech two-yard line.

The 13-10 halftime score held up throughout the third quarter, as both teams failed to dent the scoreboard. Yet another short field goal by Aldrich, this time from 29 yards out, gave the Buffs a precarious 16-10 lead one minute into the fourth quarter.

After the CU defense forced a punt from the Red Raiders, the Buff offense took off on an impressive drive. Starting at their own eight yard line, the Colorado offense marched 91-yards in 18 plays, taking up almost nine minutes of fourth quarter game clock. The drive did not result in a touchdown, but Aldrich’s fourth field goal of the game, a 17-yard chip shot with 2:50 to play, all but sealed the victory.

Still, the Red Raiders refused to go quietly. Texas Tech mounted an 80-yard drive of its own, resulting in a one yard touchdown run by the quarterback Rob Peters. Only 26 seconds of game clock remained, however, and after Darrin Chiaverini recovered the onside kick, the Buffs had their sixth win of the season.

The final score belies how well the Buffs played. CU’s lone touchdown came on a Damion Barton four yard run early in the second quarter, but the Buffs had other opportunities. Aldrich’s field goals, coming from 28, 19, 29, and 17 yards, respectively, are an indication of how close the game was to being a blowout. Only the Buffs inability to produce in the redzone (inside the twenty yard line) and a consolation touchdown scored by the Red Raiders with 26 seconds to play in the game served to make the final score close.

“I know there are people who are disappointed, that say we’re underachievers and so forth” said Neuheisel after the game. “Well, that’s one man’s opinion. This man’s opinion is that our kids are playing with everything they’ve got.”

Senior safety Marcus Washington agreed. “We’ve already done better than all of last year,” said Washington, who contributed an interception in handing Texas Tech its first loss of the season. “And that’s the only thing that counts.”

Sadly for the Buffs and their fans, CU was about to begin playing as if that sixth win was the only thing that counted.

Game Notes –

– Jeremy Aldrich, who tied the school record for field goal attempts (5) and makes (4) in a game, was named the Big 12’s Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

– The wire-to-wire victory over Texas Tech represented the first time in 19 games in which CU did not trail at some point in the contest.

– Texas Tech out-gained Colorado, 441 yards to 290. The Buffs’ leading rusher was Damion Barton, with 47 yards on 22 carries. The Texas Tech game represented Barton’s first career start.

– The Buffs did have their longest non-scoring pass of the season against the Red Raiders, however, a 59-yarder from Mike Moschetti to Marcus Stiggers.

– Freshman Roman Hollowell only had two kickoff returns in 1998, but he made them count, with his first of the season going for a school season-best 77 yards against the Red Raiders.

– Freshman safety Michael Lewis, who earned his first career start against Kansas State the week before, had his first career interception against Texas Tech.

– Junior linebacker Fred Jones had three sacks against Texas Tech, the highest sack total for any Buff in any game in 1998. Jones also had three quarterback hurries (also a team high for the season) and seven tackles overall. In all, the Buffs had seven sacks of Texas Tech quarterbacks on the afternoon.

– Thanks in large part to the longest drive of the season (18 plays, 91 yards), the Buffs had their best time of possession (34:24) of the season.

– Texas Tech fell to No. 25 in the polls after its loss to Colorado, then out of the polls after a 17-10 loss to No. 8 Texas A&M the following week. After starting 6-0, the Red Raiders would win only one more game in 1998 (a satisfying win over Texas), losing to Mississippi in the Independence Bowl, 35-18, to finish 7-5 and unranked.

 

 

 

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