September 12th – Boulder           Colorado 45, Texas Tech 27

As if the 1980 season was just a bad dream, Colorado woke up and began the 1981 season in fine fashion, with a 45-27 rout of Texas Tech.

Granted, Texas Tech was only 5-6 in 1980.

Granted, Texas Tech was not a threat to win the Southwest Conference in 1981.

But a win was a win.

Sophomore quarterback Randy Essington passed for 345 yards, breaking the school record of 278 yards held by Jeff Knapple (1977 v. Kent State). Not to be outdone, a fellow sophomore, wingback Walter Stanley, caught five passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing the mark of 158 yards held by CU legend Cliff Branch (1970 v. Missouri).

In all, Essington and Stanley established nine new individual records at Colorado on the day. Not bad for a team which had set a school record for losses in a season the year before.

After the game, Fairbanks was quoted as saying: “I didn’t see too many holes in our first units.”

The 1-10 campaign of 1980 had been temporarily forgiven and forgotten.

Hope Springs Eternal

Well, this is more like it!”, we couldn’t help thinking during the game.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Colorado should have always played in baby blue uniforms.

Perhaps Texas Tech thought they were playing UCLA, and gave CU much to much credit. Or maybe CU sent the Tech coaches only the Oklahoma and Drake game films, and the Red Raiders just didn’t anticipate any difficulty in beating up on the Buffs.

Whatever it was, it was a joyous day in Boulder. The final score of 45-27 didn’t give the Buffs enough credit. It was 45-7 with 13:30 left in the game. It was a rout of Nebraskan proportions.

What makes this game noteworthy, though, was the play of Walter Stanley.

Stanley not only scored three touchdowns on the day, he scored in spectacular fashion. He scored on touchdown receptions of 87 and 74 yards, and threw in a 70 punt return for a touchdown for good measure.

In his Buff career, wingback Stanley scored only three receiving touchdowns, with two of them coming against Texas Tech. His career receiving yardage was a modest 490 yards, with 222 yards coming on this special day in 1981 Throw in 399 career rushing yards (0 TD’s), and those unfamiliar with CU football in the early 1980’s would question his significance.

Yet Stanley was the best known player on the CU roster. Why?

What made Walter Stanley a local icon was his talent as a kick returner.

In his freshman year, Stanley had tied the school record with a 100 yard kickoff against Oklahoma. His punt return for a touchdown against Tech reminded everyone that any time Walter Stanley touched the ball, something exciting could happen. From the Tech game on, anytime Colorado was set to return a kick (unfortunately, it was too often for a kickoff and not a punt return), the student section began chanting “Wal-ter! Wal-ter! Wal-ter!” in anticipation of another spectacular return.

Not often rewarded, the faithful always remembered the Texas Tech game, and hoped for a repeat performance.

(It was not to be a happy marriage for Walter Stanley and Colorado. Arrested for shooting a BB gun from the athletic dorm, Stanley later left school after an incident involving the re-sale of stolen textbooks from the CU bookstore. Stanley transferred to, but never played a down for, Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. Stanley’s talents would not ultimately be wasted, though, as he went on to play in the NFL for various teams from 1985-92).

– Game Notes …

– The Buffs defeated the Red Raiders before 34,884, CU’s smallest home opening crowd since 1969.

– Walter Stanley’s record of 222 yards stood for 15 seasons. It was tied, but not passed, by Rae Carruth, who had seven catches for 222 yards against Missouri in 1996 (11/2/96, a 41-13 Colorado victory). Stanley’s average yard per catch – 44.4 yards on five catches – remained as a school record.

– Quarterback Randy Essington’s 344 yards of total offense was, at the time, the second highest output in school history, second only to the 353 yards of total offense posted by Bobby Anderson against Oklahoma State in 1968 (a 28-18 Colorado victory). Essington also set a Big Eight record – Most Yards gained passing per attempt (min. 20 attempts) – 15.0 (14-for-23, 345 yards).



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