October 11th – Boulder          Drake 41, Colorado 22

Colorado bounced back from the 82-42 Oklahoma debacle by out-gaining the supposedly out-manned Drake Bulldogs, 379 yards to 347.  This was not sufficient, however, to prevent a 41-22 loss to a Drake team the Buffs had surely scheduled as a breather game between games against ranked Big Eight opponents.

Colorado certainly had no reason to be overconfident against any team,  but they played as if they only needed to put on their pads in order to record their first win of 1980.  Seven turnovers later, however, and the Buffs had qualified as one of the worst teams in the country, falling 41-22, to drop the 1980 season record to 0-5.

Colorado actually enjoyed its first lead of the season in this game, as quarterback Charlie Davis led the Buffs to an early 14-3 advantage.  Unfortunately for the Buffs, Charlie Davis was injured after scoring the second Colorado touchdown.  With back-up quarterback Randy Essington suspended for one game for “disciplinary reasons”, the Buffs attack was placed in the hands of Scott Kingdom.  Kingdom failed to come through, though, completing only 10-of-25 passes for130 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions.

By halftime, the Buffs were down 24-14, well on their way to the first 0-5 start in the history of the Colorado football program.

Beneath Nadir

Having been famous in college football world for the last two weeks, but for all of the wrong reasons, it seemed that things could not get worse for the University of Colorado football team in October, 1980.

This proved to be overly optimistic.

Losing to Drake, and losing badly, at home, left even the most fervent Buff fans shaking their heads, and many looking for better things to do with their fall afternoons.  Only 37,689 bothered to come to the Drake game, and those who came probably showed up to see what it would be like to see the Buffs actually win a game.

The motivation also should have been there for the Buff players and coaches to show to the world that Colorado football was not as bad as had been demonstrated in previous 49-7 and 82-42 home losses.  If nothing else, one would have thought the Buffs would have wanted to “avenge” the upset loss to Drake from the year before.  Neither statement was made by the swooning Buffs.  In fact, the opposite was conveyed, as CU was not even competitive against a program which would in a few years discontinue its football team (only to resurrect the program later as a Division I-AA team).

The headlines the next morning showed the frustration everyone felt:

Denver Post:  “Drake Adds Insult to CU Injury”

Rocky Mountain News:  “Drake Pushes CU to New Low”

Boulder Daily Camera:  “Bulldogs Send CU to Bottom”

The Drake loss proved to be my greatest test as a CU fan.

I wanted to cheer for my school, and I loved college football. Five games into my freshman year, though, I had yet to see the team win.

With the next two games on the calendar coming against Missouri, ranked No. 16 in the country, and Nebraska, ranked No. 9, there was no hope in sight for the winless Buffs.  I started scanning the sports pages to find the one line entries for the Montana State game results.  After all, MSU, playing in my hometown of Bozeman, Montana, had won the Division II National Championship in 1976, and was at least playing competitive football.

The Drake game, and indeed the entire 1980 CU season, was summed up towards the end of the game. I was still in the stands in the fourth quarter, even though the game outcome was no longer in doubt. I overheard a fraternity member as he stumbled past us on his way out of the stadium.  Apparently having had his fill of beer for the day, and his fill of CU football for the season (by mid-October) all he could mutter was:  “Drake!  Who the Hell is Drake?”

Game Notes –

– The scheduling of a weak Drake team in 1979 and 1980 was understandable. Colorado had non-conference games scheduled in 1979 against LSU and Oregon, and against LSU and UCLA in 1980. The Buffs could be forgiven for lining up a sacrificial lamb for their third non-conference game, but the strategy back-fired. The Buffs lost both games to the Bulldogs, one of the most embarrassing footnotes in Colorado football history.

– Drake would go on to post an 8-3 record in 1980, going 3-2 in Missouri Valley Conference play. After winning the MVC in 1981 with a 10-1 record, the Bulldogs posted four straight losing seasons. Unable to maintain the expense of a football program, Drake, six years after beating Colorado in consecutive seasons, dropped its football program. The following year, in 1987, Drake reinstated football, competing as an independent.



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