October 4th – Boulder           No. 12 Oklahoma 82, Colorado 42

The score says it all.


If you have never seen these numbers before, consider yourself fortunate.  The headline in the October 5, 1980, Rocky Mountain News was:  “Buffs humiliated by Sooners 82-42”.  The statistics border on the unbelievable.  The total number of points scored by two teams, 124, set a modern day NCAA record, as did the total number of touchdowns by both teams (18).  In all, at least 51 NCAA, Big Eight Conference, Colorado/Oklahoma team, or Folsom Field records were broken – and five more tied (though many have since been passed).

No one was disillusioned with the belief that 0-3 Colorado was going to upset 12th-ranked Oklahoma.  Still, for an ever so brief moment, it looked as if the Buffs, though reeling, might stay with the Sooners.  After Oklahoma had gone up 14-0, Buff freshman Walter Stanley ran the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-7 with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

The Sooners quickly responded with a 20-yard touchdown run by Buster Ryhmes to run the score to 21-7, but, with the aid of a pass interference penalty taking the ball to the Sooner three-yard line, Colorado pushed the ball over on a Willie Beebe run, and the second quarter scoreboard read 21-14.  CU hadn’t stopped the Sooners, but had shown an ability to score as well.  Maybe there was hope.  At the half, the score was a respectable 34-21.

Good news, bad news.  First the good news:  at least Colorado had scored some points in the first half of a game.  Now the bad news:  Oklahoma had not scored in the first half of its first two games, but had scored five touchdowns in the first thirty minutes against CU.

Unfortunately, matters only deteriorated from there.

In the second half, Oklahoma continued to roll, scoring 48 points.  The Buffs only consolation was the posting of 21 points to match their total from the first half.

For the game, the Sooners numbers were incredible:  758 yards rushing on 73 carries.  Throw in 117 yards passing and the Oklahoma total yardage for the day was 875 yards of offense.  Oklahoma never punted, and only two fumbles prevented further carnage.  It was a rout in every sense of the word.

Associated Press writer Steve Harvey had a column in the early 1980’s, dubbed the “Bottom 10”.  Rankings were awarded along the same concept as with the Top 20, but were the inverse to the best teams in the nation.  The only saving grace keeping Colorado, at 0-4, from being “ranked” as the worst team in the nation after the Oklahoma game, was that the Buffs shared the #1 ranking with the other two state teams.  That same weekend, Air Force out of Colorado Springs was beaten 17-16 by Yale to fall to 0-4-1, while the Colorado State Rams from Fort Collins succumbed 69-0 to Iowa State.

It was small consolation to Buff fans that the state’s other schools were having equally poor seasons.

Here is a YouTube video with “highlights” from the game, dug up by CU at the Gamer Paul:



Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines “nadir” as:  “the lowest point”.   Nadir is the only appropriate way to describe the Colorado/Oklahoma game.  The records, of course, speak for themselves.  For me and Mark Watson, an aerospace engineering freshman who also lived on Second East floor in Libby Hall, though, the game became an odyssey.  While many Buff fans left early, for us the game was like driving by an accident on the highway: You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help but watch.

Two players from the 1980 Colorado/Oklahoma track meet are locked forever into my memory.  The first is Darrell Shepard, the backup quarterback for Oklahoma.  I didn’t know his name at the time, but his stats were easy to remember. Three rushes for 151 yards – a nifty 50.3 yards per carry average.  He may have been a tailback on the day, but I remember him as the quarterback, and I remember his carries.

All afternoon, Oklahoma ran the triple option right.  The Colorado players knew it. The Colorado coaches knew it. Drunken frat boys in the student section knew it. Everyone in the stadium knew the play was coming.  The Buffs just could not stop the Sooners’ backs.  Oklahoma’s 758 yards rushing attests to the lack of a need for a passing game. Colorado just didn’t have the horses to keep up.

There is the story that Fairbanks, as a former OU coach, contacted Sooner head coach Barry Switzer through assistants in the press box.  The plea, sent in the second half, was to stop running the option and just run up the middle.  I don’t know if the story is true, or if the Sooners coaching staff was sympathetic.  Even if Oklahoma complied, it didn’t help Colorado much, as the Sooners scored 48 points in the second half.

The second player I remember from that October afternoon was a Buff.  I remember him as the right cornerback, and his number being #6.  I didn’t know his name at the time, but the stats sheet from the game identifies Colorado #6 as defensive back Tim Stampley.  Perhaps it was for the best that we didn’t know his name in the stands, for to us, #6 became known simply as the “designated chaser”.  Baseball has a designated hitter, and CU, for this game anyway, had it’s designated chaser.

Lining up against the wide out on the left side of the Sooner offense, the designated chaser for the Buffs had limited action in defending against the passing game.  Instead, it seemed to us that Stampley had a singular role. As the cornerback away from the flow of the play, his role was to run across the field, as Oklahoma ran its triple option right, and chase the OU quarterback or tailback all the way into the endzone as they ran for yet another long touchdown.  He was not responsible, mind you, for actually catching and tackling the OU ball carrier, but simply chasing the back all the way to the endzone.

It was almost as if the Buffs didn’t mind the touchdowns – but didn’t want to be embarrassed by having the touchdown scored by a Sooner walking to the goalline.

The other macabre reason for sitting through the 82-42 annihilation, at least from a home town fan standpoint, was to see if the scoreboard at CU could hold 100 points.  We were unsure whether this had been considered as a possibility when the scoreboard had been ordered.  After all, at the time, the most CU had ever scored in a game was 65 (v. Arizona in 1958) and the most given up to an opponent was 63 (v. Nebraska in 1975 – a 103-0 loss to Colorado Mines in CU’s inaugural season of 1890 notwithstanding).  For better or worse, the scoreboard was not tested, and CU had to settle for being ignominiously mentioned in the national media for the second time in as many weeks.

Game Notes –

– Walter Stanley is remembered by Buff fans for a number of records, but mostly for his kickoff and punt returns. Ironically enough, the 100-yard kickoff return for a score against Oklahoma was Stanley’s only kickoff return touchdown as a Buff.

– The 42 points put up against the Sooners, oddly enough, tied the most-ever for Colorado against Oklahoma (the Buffs defeated the Sooners, 42-31, in 1976). That record would stand until 1994, when Colorado routed Oklahoma, 45-7.

As noted, there were dozens of individual, team, conference, and NCAA records set on October 4, 1980 (some records, mercifully, have since been passed):

NCAA records:

– Most points scored, both teams: 124 (this record lasted until 2001 – Middle Tennessee State 70, Idaho 58, for 128 total points)

– Most touchdowns scored, both teams: 18

Big Eight records:

– Most Extra points attempted, game: 11 (Michael Keeling)

– Highest average gain per kickoff return, game: 53.3 (CU’s Walter Stanley – 3 for 160 yards)


– Most yards gained, Colorado and opponent: 1,205 (OU 875; CU 330)

– Most points scored losing a game: 42

– Highest kickoff return average, game: 44.8

– Most touchdowns allowed, game: 12

– Most touchdowns allowed, rushing, game: 10

– Most yards allowed, game: 875

– Most rushing yards allowed, game: 758

– Most points allowed, game: 82


– Most rushing yards, opponent, game: 258 (David Overstreet)

– Highest rushing average, opponent, game:  50.3 (Darrell Shepard – 3-for-151)

– Most extra points attempted, opponent, game: 11 (Michael Keeling)

– Most extra points made, opponent, game: 10 (Michael Keeling)

Of course, all of the above are also Folsom Field records, but you get the idea ….

8 Replies to “No. 12 Oklahoma – 82-42 – Open up the record books”

  1. One of my best memories ever!
    I took my seventy-year-old mother to her first-ever OU game. We had excellent seats around the 50-yard line. When it started raining and ou was far ahead, the crowd started leaving but mom wanted to stay till the end – which we did. it was a wonderful experience for her and a cherished memory for me.

  2. I was a 15 year old and spent the day working at the HILTON HARVEST HOUSE HOTEL (and tennis club) down below FOLSOM FIELD and for 3 hours heard the crowd roaring …. final score buffs 42, sooners 82. CRAZY DAY.

  3. The CU student fans of this era have witnessed some of the lowest lows in Buff history! If you could still go to the games and root for your team it surely shows your commitment to the school and football team. I went to CU from 1979-1983 and in those 4 seasons The Buffs went 9-34-1. Of those 9 wins only six were at home for a nifty 1.5 home wins per season. We had many other ways to entertain ourselves at the games once it got out of reach(usually the middle of the first quarter). Belonging to a fraternity helped to keep my spirits up for those lowly Buff’s. We always started game day out with a pre-party/breakfast with a sorority. Even though the 1979-80 season (FB/LB Bob Humble was in our fraternity and gave us some insight from a team player perspective) taught us that the football program was in trouble we still were optimistic that the team was going to turn the corner any game and start winning. But just in case we always used the advice of Bluto (from the Animal House movie) who said “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”…….Once well “liquored up” we herded our crew down “The Hill” to Folson stadium for the mauling. In those great days you could buy beers at the game (Yes Mark M. from above post we probably bought many beers from you). Actually we usually bought the whole tray from the beer vendors (approximately 60) and we also brought in large 5 gallon plastic container of jungle juice( all the leftover booze from the pre-party mixed with juice). Another pastime was “passing up” good looking girls who walked pass our section. This was done by having spotters standing down by the 1st row railing and when we saw a good looking girl from high in the stadium these spotters would grab the girl and lift her high over their heads and then all the student in the section would stand and pass her overhead all the way to the top of the stadium. Great amusement!

    Now to talk about the game mentioned above. I was the most entertaining game I have ever been too. It was like watching ice hockey(if you blinked you missed a touchdown). Simply put…. Oklahoma score every time they touched the ball and we scored every second time we touched the ball. Even though we lost you didn’t feel sad as our team scored so often just not a often as Oklahoma. We were so busy watching the touchdownfest that we forgot all that drinking and girl passing rituals. And so we said the rest of the season to other football team fans “Hey we score 42 on Oklahoma!” There is no reason to analyze the game…the team was very poor and the players didn’t “buy in ” to Chuck F. program. We were told he didn’t communicate much with the player on a individual basis and let his assistants do most of the coaching.
    Of all the games I saw at Boulder this one stands out as the most memorable of all! Well worth a mention in this competition.

  4. Fall of 1980 was the beginning of my sophomore year, and a year of football futility unmatched in CU annals (Hawkins era not withstanding). The OU massacre at Folsom was a microcosm of that futility. I was a beer vendor that season (yes at one time you could actually buy beer from vendor from your seat). At this particular game it seemed like every time I looked up from selling a beer another TD was being scored. Sales were brisk too especially to the OU fans. But who could blame them and we’d give them their comeuppance soon enough.

  5. I was there. As I sat in the stands, and as the game got more and more out of hand, I came to the realization that OU had never punted. However, late in the game, OU had the ball on its own 15 yard-line, third down and about fifteen. Backup quarterback (Darrell Shepard, maybe) is under center. Finally, I thought to myself, OU will have to punt. Wrong!!! The quarterback takes the snap, runs left and goes 85 yards for the touchdown. That play was a metaphor for the utter futility of CU’s defense, and the athletic ability and speed of OU’s offense, on a memorable October afternoon at Folsom Field. If you didn’t care who won, it was one heck of a fun game to watch.

  6. *…The first is Darrell Shepard, the backup quarterback for Oklahoma. I didn’t know his name at the time, but his stats were easy to remember. Three rushes for 151 yards – a nifty 50.3 yards per carry average. He may have been a tailback on the day, but I remember him as the quarterback, and I remember his carries.*

    Adding to author’s comment above, if I remember right, Darrel set an NCAA record that day. Those three carries, to my memory, were kick (punt or kick-off?) returns. I think he had two of the three returned for TD’s. I vaguely remember the announcer(s) saying this was a record that day. I watched it on TV that day. I was going to Texas Tech the day of this game and remember Darrel’s High School days. Football & Track… think he was on the basketball team too. I saw him play then, and so I was anxious to see him play for OU as he had transferred from U of Houston under some scandal… think he was given a car by UH coaches or something. Details are all fuzzy on most of this… but I’m pretty sure I’m close on this info.

    1. No, they were all runs from scrimmage. One for 90 yds, one for 48 yes, and one for 13 yds. All in the second half. They sat Watts down to take it easy on Colorado.

  7. I was only 10 years watching this game in the nosebleeds and even then I realized how terrible this team was. I savored every victory against OU since then and there have been quite a few in the past 25 years. Hopefully CU will get over the hump and start playing up to buff. ; )

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