October 16 – at Oklahoma State           Colorado 25, Oklahoma State 25

It is hard to imagine that anyone would have a revenge factor in playing the Buffs in the early 1980’s, but that is what the Oklahoma State Cowboys were playing for in 1982.

Colorado had come from behind for an improbable, last second 11-10 win in 1981 in Boulder. Now it was Oklahoma State’s turn to right the wrong. Everyone else was getting healthy playing the powder-blue Buffs, and the homecoming crowd of 47,250 expected nothing less from their squad.

Fans of both teams were to be treated to another last second game, but it was the Cowboy fans who were again left with a bad taste in their mouths.

Colorado seemed to have matters well in hand with only 4:39 left in the game, when Colorado’s sensational cornerback Victor Scott had just scored his second touchdown of the game, returning a pass interception for a 22-10 Colorado lead. Oklahoma State, though, promptly marched down the field, scoring a touchdown with still over two minutes left to play. 22-17.

Colorado went three-and-out on its next possession, punting the ball back to the Cowboys at their 22-yard line. The Colorado defense did force a fourth-and-eight as Oklahoma State drove against the Buffs and the clock, but the Cowboys passed for 15 yards and a first down.

Backed against the shadow of their own goalpost, the Buff defense next forced a third-and-goal from the seven, but Oklahoma State punched it in with less than a minute remaining. The Cowboys added a two-point conversion for a 25-22 lead, and it appeared that the 11-10 loss of 1981 had been avenged.

Now it was Colorado’s turn.

The Buffs, with Randy Essington at the helm, moved quickly downfield. Essington connected with tight end Dave Hestera for 24 yards to the Cowboys 32 yard line. Three seconds remained. Out trotted junior placekicker Tom Field, who had earlier connected from 46, 27, and 34 yards. Field split the uprights from 49 yards, the Buffs had again denied Oklahoma State a win, salvaging a 25-25 tie.

“This is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t have the numbers and depth required to play in this conference,” said McCartney. “We just wore out in the second half. Oklahoma State was able to move the ball up and down the field on us in the second half, and they got right back into the game.”


It must have been the tie

No one knew it at the time, but the tie between Colorado and Oklahoma State arguably made the difference between Colorado remaining the cellar dweller of the Big Eight and rising to unprecedented heights by the end of the 1980’s.

In three years as head coach at the University of Colorado (1979-81), Chuck Fairbanks compiled a woeful record. He was vilified and is chastised as being the worst coach ever to lead the Buffs onto the turf of Folsom Field. Meanwhile, Coach Bill McCartney was given a contract extension while enduring the pitiful 1-10 1984 season. Coach Mac went on to become Colorado’s all-time winningest coach, and will always be remembered as the coach who led Colorado to it’s first national championship in football.

Coach Fairbanks’ record at Colorado: 7-26.

Coach McCartney’s record for his first three years at Colorado: 7-25-1.

The difference? The 1982 game against Oklahoma State.

It must have been the tie.


– Game Notes …

– Junior Victor Scott had three interceptions against Oklahoma State, and his two interception returns for touchdowns set a school record in a game. (How special is this record? Only one other Buff, Donald Strickland, has had two interception returns for a touchdown – in a season – with Strickland turning the trick in 2001). Not surprisingly, Scott was named the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Week.

– Colorado only had 215 yards of total offense against Oklahoma State – with only 20 yards rushing. Art Woods punted the ball nine times, just two shy of the school record.

– Kicker Tom Field tied his own school record with four field goals against Oklahoma State. Field missed a fifth attempt against Washington State, though, so his four-for-four against Oklahoma State set a new standard at Colorado. Both records would stand until Jeremy Aldrich went five-for-five against Kansas in 1999.

– The tie against Colorado was the second in a row for Oklahoma State, with the Cowboys having tied Kansas, 24-24, the week before. Oklahoma State would go on to finish the 1982 season with a 4-5-2 record, 3-2-2 in the Big Eight.



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