October 15th - @ Texas No. 2 Texas 42, No. 24 Colorado 17
Texas quarterback Vince Young led the 2nd-ranked Longhorns to five first half touchdowns, leading the way to a 42-17 rout of 24th-ranked Colorado.
Young, a Heisman Trophy front-runner, connected on 25-of-29 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for another 58 yards and three more touchdowns, as the Longhorns scored touchdowns on their first five possessions to remove any doubts about a hangover after the win over Oklahoma the previous week.
After Colorado failed to secure a first down on its first possession of the game, Young led Texas on a methodical, 16-play, 90-yard drive, culminated on a one-yard run by Young to give the Longhorns a 7-0 lead. On the Longhorns’ second possession, Young scored on a 16-yard run to finish off a 67 yard drive. After Joel Klatt threw his first interception in two games, Young hit Brian Carter for a 62 yard gain to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Selvin Young, and the rout was on. A third touchdown run for Young, followed by a 35-yard touchdown pass to Limas Sweed, completed a near perfect first half for the Texas quarterback. The Buffs did manage to post two scores, a 48-yard field goal by Mason Crosby and an eight yard touchdown pass from Klatt to Evan Judge on the last play before halftime, making the score 35-10.
The second half was a formality. Both teams scored touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. Young hit Sweed for a second time, this time from 13 yards out, and Klatt hit Joe Klopfenstein from four yards out to make the final score 42-17.
“Vince’s performance was the best today that I’ve ever seen him,” said Mack Brown, head coach of the Longhorns. “He just takes off and adds another dimension,” said Colorado linebacker Jordon Dizon of Vince Young, “and it kills us.”
On the day, Texas accounted for 482 total yards, compared to 237 for the Buffs. Joel Klatt was not sacked, but was harassed and hit all day (not unlike his experience against Miami a few games earlier), connecting on only 19-of-39 passes for 189 yards. The Buffs’ rushing attack, good for 158 yards against Texas A&M, managed only 45 against Texas. “They just flat stopped us,” said Hugh Charles, limited to 38 yards on 13 carries. “Our game plan got shut out.”
The No. 2 Texas Longhorns almost made it to No. 1 on the afternoon. Top-ranked USC needed a touchdown in the last seven seconds of play to defeat No.9 Notre Dame, 34-31. Texas still had to face No. 13 Texas Tech, 59-20 winners over Kansas State that weekend, but the remainder of the schedule seemed tailored for a return visit to the Rose Bowl, this time to play for the national championship.
The goals were not as lofty for the 4-2 Buffs. Now 2-1 in conference play, Colorado was tied with Missouri and Nebraska for the top spot in the Big 12 North. Up next for Colorado was Kansas, 0-3 in conference play after dropping a 19-3 decision to Oklahoma in a game played in Kansas City. The Jayhawks were 3-3 overall, but had played a weak non-conference schedule (Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State, and Louisiana Tech). The Jayhawks had scored only six total points in their last two games, and were coming to Boulder, where the Buffs had won nine of the last ten games played on the Buffs’ home field in the series.
If there was any team which could salve the wounds of the out-played, out-talented, and out-muscled Buffs, it would be Kansas.
Then again, the Jayhawks could say the same things about the Buffs.
It Was Nice While it Lasted
One week in the polls.
After breaking into the polls for the first time in two years, the Buffs had the chance against Texas to place themselves into the national college football consciousness for the remainder of the 2005 season.
Granted, if in August you had offered Buff fans a 4-2 start, with losses only to two top ten teams, on the road, you would have had many takers (myself included). Yet, as satisfying as the win over Colorado State had been, and as dominant as the wins over New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M had been, there was still something lacking.
The Buffs were not competitive as a national player. It was time to own up to that.
It was time to look at the reality of the Gary Barnett era.
Dave Plati, the Associate Athletic Director/Sports Information Director at Colorado, is a legend in the profession. He is routinely quoted by television commentators, as he often comes up with quirky statistics for each game. It goes without saying that his weekly press releases were always eagerly anticipated by this reader, and his annual media guide (before the NCAA ruled that it had to be gutted – i.e., limited to the number of pages allowed), was my CU bible.
Yet, as the Gary Barnett era marched on into its seventh year, some of the oft-quoted statistics were becoming dated.
Dave liked to rank almost everything based upon 1989 forward. This was only logical, as this was when the Buffs made a name for themselves nationally – Other schools also used their own points of reference, based upon what dates made them look the best (e.g., Kansas State routinely sang the praises of head coach Bill Snyder, but conveniently left out his first season – an 0-11 campaign in 1989 – when compiling statistics). At CU, for years the front page of the weekly press release had a section called “In the Polls”. It cited that (as of the 2005 Texas game, for instance), that “CU has been ranked in 183 of the last 270 polls (AP, 69%)”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But under the surface is the reality that the vast majority of those numbers were accumulated between 1989 and 1997. Under Gary Barnett, the CU numbers were 32 out of 102, or 31%. Included in those numbers were the 1999 season (ranked in the preseason only), the 2000 season (preseason only), 2003 (two weeks), and 2004 (none). Now the Buffs had their one week of national ranking for 2005, and it would take some work to get a second week. Thus, in seven seasons under Gary Barnett, Buff fans were cheering on a team outside the national rankings for most of five of those seasons.
Dave Plati also liked to run a section in the media release entitled “Usually in ‘em”. Here, Dave reported that the Buffs, in their 59 losses from 1988 to present (to the 2005 Texas game), Colorado had been within eight points in 32 of those games. Translation: the Buffs had been blown out only 27 times in 16+ seasons.
Again, that doesn’t sound too bad, until you restrict the numbers to the Gary Barnett era. In the 1999 Colorado Media Guide, with new head coach Gary Barnett on the cover, Dave Plati reported that the Buffs 28 losses from 1988 to 1998, only two had been blowouts in which the Buffs hadn’t been competitive (1992 52-7 loss to Nebraska; 1997 27-3 loss to Michigan).
Now, under Gary Barnett, the Buffs were getting blown out two or three times per season. Yes, the Buffs had won three of the last four Big 12 North titles, and yes, the Buffs were in good position heading into the second half of 2005 to win for the fourth time in five years.
But you had to wonder just a little if this was as good as it was going to get under Gary Barnett. It could be much worse under someone new, and Colorado did not have the history, facilities, or fan base to steal a name coach from another program.
Better the devil you know? It’s always hard to say.
The new Colorado Athletic Director, Mike Bohn, had made great strides in his first six months on the job. He had formed new alliances with the business community, rallied student support, and generally improved the atmosphere around the Boulder campus. It was his call as to whether or not to give Gary Barnett an extension on his contract, set to expire after the 2006 season. Much was already being made on recruiting websites that the Buffs were losing recruits due to the uncertainty of the future of the Colorado head coach. A tough decision had to be made.
What was better: A coach who had won titles, and a conference championship, over the past four years, or an unknown to-be-discovered head coach, who could take the Buffs to new heights, or cycle the program back into years of mediocrity?
A few more wins in 2005, and perhaps a return trip to the Big 12 conference title game, would make the decision easier.
- The Colorado first team defense had allowed only two touchdowns in the previous four games … but gave up six scores to the Longhorns’ offense.
- The Texas scoring drive on its first possession was the first score in an opening possession against the Buffs all season. The first five opponents had failed to secure so much as a first down in their opening possession.
- Joel Klatt’s 189 yards passing pushed him over the 6,000 mark for his career, only the second Buff to accomplish that feat (Kordell Stewart – 6,481).