September 20th –  at LSU          LSU 23, Colorado 20

Playing at Louisiana State the second week of the season, Colorado faced an LSU team that had been to bowls the previous three seasons, but was still looking to improve.  After consecutive 8-4 seasons, the Tigers had managed a 7-5 record in 1979.  Still, the 1979 Tiger squad had been good enough to embarrass the Buffs in Boulder, 44-0.

LSU came into the 1980 game 1-1 on the new season, having been shut out by Florida State (16-0), and returning the favor against Kansas State (21-0).  With Colorado coming off of a 56-14 whitewash by UCLA, the game appeared to be a mismatch.

As it turned out, though, the game proved more difficult for the home team than expected.

“Death Valley” in Baton Rouge is known as a raucous stadium, especially for night games.  One of the largest non-conference crowds to ever see CU play, 74,999, happily watched the Buffs stumble toward what began as another blow-out.  In the second quarter, the score was:  LSU 20; Colorado 0.  For Buff fans, it was, to quote the word-master Yogi Berra, “Deja vu all over again”.  It was a different day, a different opponent, and a different venue, but the Buffs were heading for the same results.

Then, something strange happened … the Buffs rallied.

Behind quarterback Charlie Davis, the Buffs responded, tying the game 20-20 in the fourth quarter.  Twice thereafter, the Buffs had the ball with an opportunity to take their first lead of the 1980 season.  Unfortunately, Colorado twice turned the ball back over to LSU, with the second miscue proving fatal.  Charlie Davis, on a first down from CU’s own 18-yard line, had his pass intended for tight end Bob Niziolek picked off by LSU linebacker Lawrence Williams.  Williams returned the ball to the Buff six-yard line.  A few plays later, David Johnston kicked a chip shot field goal of 17 yards, and LSU had it’s win, 23-20.

For the Buffs, who out-gained the Tigers in total yardage, 312-280, there was only the moral victory.  The headline in the Colorado Daily on the Monday following the game said it all:  “Buffs gained pride but not win”.

Game Notes –

– The 74,999 attendance was the sixth-highest for a CU road game, with road games at Michigan (91,203) in 1974, at Ohio State (85,538) in 1971, and three road games at Nebraska (1973,1975, and 1977) the only games prior to 1980 with higher attendance.

– The 1980 game represented the last time Colorado and LSU have played, though it was the sixth time overall in the series, and fifth time in nine years. The first time the teams met, in the 1962 Orange Bowl, the Tigers prevailed, 25-7. The teams met four times in the 1970’s, with LSU taking three of four. The only win for the Buffs in the series came on September 11, 1971, when the unranked Colorado Buffaloes shocked the 9th ranked Tigers in Baton Rouge, 31-21. (Colorado jumped into the ranking the following week, never falling lower than 13th as the 10-2 Buffs finished the 1971 season ranked 3rd ). LSU has only traveled to Boulder once, in 1979, with LSU prevailing, 44-0.

– In the first season under new head coach Jerry Stovall, LSU went on to finish with a 7-4 record, 4-2 in SEC play. The Tigers would play in only one bowl game in Stovall’s four seasons in Baton Rouge, posting a 22-21-2 overall record.


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