National and Big Eight recap – 1980

In college football in 1980 it was the Year of the Dog – as in the Bulldogs from the University of Georgia. Georgia went 12-0, earning its 2nd-ever national championship by defeating Notre Dame, 17-10, in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs were led by running back Herschel Walker. Notre Dame finished the season on a two game losing streak, falling to 9-2-1 in Dan Devine’s last season as head coach.

In the Big Eight, Oklahoma continued its domination of the league. Sweeping the conference for the second consecutive year, the Sooners extended to eight their string of consecutive years in which they won or shared the Big Eight title. Oklahoma finished 10-2, losing only to Stanford and Texas. An 18-17 win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl gave the Sooners and head coach Barry Switzer a No. 3 final ranking.

Joining the Sooners in the bowls from the Big Eight conference were Nebraska and Missouri. The Cornhuskers also concluded their campaign at 10-2 (and a No. 7 final poll showing) by besting Mississippi State 31-17 in the Sun Bowl. Missouri played in the Liberty Bowl against Purdue, but a 28-25 loss to the Boilermakers left the Tigers with a final record of 8-4, not good enough for a ranking in the final polls.

Long before the run for National Championship in 1980 was decided, the University of Colorado’s football program had been eliminated from the race.

Truth be told, Colorado, coming off of a 3-8 record in 1979, was out of the running before Labor Day.

September 13th – at UCLA         UCLA 56, Colorado 14

For the University of Colorado, the 1980 football season started somewhat late by college football standards, as the Buffs opened in Los Angeles against UCLA on September 13th. UCLA had in its lineup such future NFL stars as defensive back Kenny Easley, tailback Freeman McNiel, and offensive Irv Eatman. The Buffs did have a future NFL star, cornerback Victor Scott, in their lineup, but Scott was a true freshman playing his first game against the Bruins.

The Buffs were to be reminded early and often of the disparity in talent between the teams.

Sadly for the Buffs, the season got underway for the Bruins thirty minutes earlier than it did for Colorado. In the opener for both teams, the Buffs actually outscored the Bruins 14-0 … in the second half.

At the conclusion of the first half, however, the score was: UCLA Bruins 56; Colorado Buffaloes 0.

Junior Charlie Davis made his starting debut at quarterback for the Buffs, rushing for 60 yards on 16 carries, and passing for 143 yards with one touchdown, but Davis’ efforts were far too little, and far too late, to make a difference in the outcome.

The 56 points allowed in one half set a Colorado record for futility, a record which was not matched until Oregon posted the same 56-0 margin against a hapless Colorado team in a game played in Eugene in 2012 (a game which ended with a 70-14 score).

The 1980 season opener was to be, however, just the first of many opportunities for the Colorado sports information office to thumb through the record books.

Game Notes:

– Charlie Davis would go to post a record of 0-5 as a starter. The only other Colorado starting quarterback not to record a win as a starter since 1959 is Hale Irwin, who lost to USC, 21-0, in his only start at quarterback.

– The September 13th start was the latest start for the Buffs since Colorado opened the 1974 campaign on September 14th (a 42-14 loss to LSU).

– Two true freshmen started on defense for the Buffs against UCLA, cornerback Victor Scott and linebacker Scott Hardison. The pair became only the second and third true freshmen in Colorado history to start in a season opener, joining Bill Waddy, who started as a true freshman in the 1973 opener against LSU.

– After taking out Colorado and Purdue (23-14), UCLA found its way into the national polls, at No. 16. A six-game winning streak to open the season, including a 17-0 win over No. 2 Ohio State on the road, helped the Bruins rise to No. 2 in the polls. Back-to-back upset losses to Arizona and Oregon, though, dropped UCLA to No. 17 in the nation. The Bruins bounced back with three wins to close out the season, including a 20-17 win over No. 12 USC, but the Bruins, with two losses in conference, did not win the Pac-10 title, with Washington earning the Rose Bowl bid with a 6-1 conference record.

Note: 1980 was the last season in which the Pac-10 conference only sent one representative to the bowls. Both 8-2-1 USC, No. 12 in the polls, and 9-2 UCLA, 15th in the nation, stayed home in the 1980 postseason. The Pac-10 relented after the 1980 season, however, entering into contracts with other “lesser” bowls. This allowed UCLA in 1981, despite a record of only 7-3-1, to play in first non-Rose Bowl game, the Bluebonnet Bowl, facing Michigan).



One Reply to “UCLA – Buffs down 56-0 … at halftime!”

  1. The Pac-10 placed Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, and USC on bowl probation in 1980. Stanford and Washington were the only bowl eligible teams in 1980. Washington was invited to the Rose Bowl. Stanford did not receive a bowl invitation. In 1979, four Pac-10 teams played in bowls.

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