September 22nd – at Notre Dame           Notre Dame 55, Colorado 14

Colorado traveled to the hallowed grounds of South Bend, Indiana, for their third game of the 1984 season carrying heavy hearts. Thoughts of Ed Reinhardt had to be on the minds of the Buffs as they played Notre Dame beneath “Touchdown Jesus” for the first – and only – time in school history.

Notre Dame, as had been the case in 1983, came into the matchup against the Buffs unranked. Embattled Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust had the Irish off to a 1-1 start, but this was hardly cause for celebration in South Bend. Notre Dame had been ranked seventh in the nation in the 1984 preseason Associated Press poll, but had promptly dropped out of the poll after falling 23-21 to Purdue in the season opener. The Irish did not look much better the following week against Michigan State, falling behind 17-3 in the first half before rallying to win, 24-20. Though the 1984 Colorado/Notre Dame game would be played at South Bend, there seemed some hope for the struggling Buffs to make a game of it against a less than dominant Fighting Irish squad.

For Colorado, though, 1984 was not like 1983, when the Buffs were riding high coming into the Notre Dame contest. The previous season, the Buffs were 2-1 and brimming with optimism, but were humbled by Notre Dame at home, 27-3. The Buffs in 1984 were 0-2, and had little to be optimistic about.

The scene was set for disaster, and the Buffs did not disappoint, playing their worst game since the Nebraska rout the year before.

By the end of the first quarter, it was 21-0. By halftime, it was 38-0, Notre Dame.

Before the Buffs scored late in the third quarter, the score was up 52-0. The 55-14 final could have been much worse. The Irish played three quarterbacks and even tried out three kickers. Fourth stringers were on the field at the end. The Notre Dame crowd cheered and cheered – a rare occurrence during the Gerry Faust era.

In the “for what its worth” category, on Colorado’s third possession, quarterback Steve Vogel completed an 18-yard pass to Loy Alexander. With the completion, Vogel passed Gale Weidener for the top spot on the all-time list in career passing yards at Colorado. Vogel now had 3,150 yards, surpassing the only other 3,000+ yard career for the Buffs, put up by Weidener (1959-61). It was only fitting for the day that the 18-yard completion came on third down … and still did not pick up enough yardage for a first down.

The record for Vogel came before the quarterback made an early exit. Vogel hurt his neck after completing only three-of-seven passes for 44 yards. Vogel’s injury just added him to the Colorado list of walking wounded. Tight end Jon Embree went out in the game’s first series of the game with a deep thigh bruise.

The injury situation for the 0-3 Buffs was now past critical.

Coming into the Notre Dame game, Colorado was already forced to start six players who had not started against Michigan State just two weeks earlier. A preseason all-conference pick at linebacker, Barry Remington, had played little since the opener. Fellow linebacker Dan McMillen underwent orthoscopic surgery the week before the Notre Dame game and was out indefinitely. The secondary was so devastated that four new starters were contemplated. The situation was dire for the paper-thin depth of the Buffs.

For his part, Colorado head coach Bill McCartney refused to use the injuries, or Ed Reinhardt, as an excuse for the blowout. “I just want to set the record straight”, McCartney told reporters after the game. “We didn’t come here and hang our heads on the basis of what happened last week. We were emotionally ready.”

The scoreboard suggested otherwise.

Game Notes –

– By the end of his career, quarterback Steve Vogel owned most of the career passing records at Colorado. Vogel finished his career with 309 completions on 688 attempts, for 3,912 yards, 27 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. Most of Vogel’s career numbers were eclipsed by the mid-1990’s, as either Kordell Stewart or Koy Detmer assumed the top spots in career passing statistics. Joel Klatt finally tied the career interception mark in 2005; it was finally passed by Cody Hawkins in 2009 – 25 seasons after Vogel hung up his cleats.

– Notre Dame would not take advantage of its rout of Colorado. A mid-season three-game losing streak and an Aloha Bowl loss to SMU would doom Notre Dame to a second consecutive 7-5 season. A 5-6 record in 1985 would bring about the end of the five-year tenure of Irish head coach Gerry Faust.

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