November 9th – at Kansas        Colorado 14, Kansas 3

Colorado regained its winning form, but again it was the defense which carried the day as Colorado ran its record to 6-3 with a 14-3 win over Kansas.

The mood on the rainy, 40-degree was somber for the 25,000 on hand for Homecoming in Lawrence, and the frigid crowd was silent after the game was only three plays old. On third down in the game’s opening series, safety Mickey Pruitt, the hero of the Oregon game, stepped in front of a Mike Norseth pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. It would be all the points the Buffs would need, as the Jayhawks could muster only 62 yards rushing on 32 attempts. The defense was led by senior linebacker Dan McMillen, who recorded a school record five sacks on the day.

The Colorado offense, however, struggled for the third consecutive week.

Mark Hatcher completed only one-of-six passes, and the Buffs were actually outgained by Kansas, 318 total yards to just 221 for the Buffs. Anthony Weatherspoon contributed 65 yards rushing, and Ron Brown 59, but Colorado was held without a 100 yard rusher for the fourth consecutive game.

The contest was still in doubt into the fourth quarter, with the Buffs nursing a 7-3 lead. A 41-yard run by Ron Brown midway through the fourth quarter, though, set up a five yard touchdown run by Mark Hatcher, giving Colorado a 14-3 victory.

Both teams had come into the game with five wins, but it was the Buffs who left town with their first assured winning season since 1978. Could bowl talk be far behind?

A headline in the November 10th Rocky Mountain News was entitled: “CU on Independence Bowl list”. The Buffs were cited by an Independence Bowl representative as “selling itself” with its Big Eight ties and strong record. The liabilities included a sluggish (and therefore unattractive) offense and a lack of traveling fans.

No invitations were offered to the 6-3 (3-2 in the Big Eight) Buffs after the Jayhawk game, however. A trip to Norman to face the 7th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners was next on the schedule.

Without some offensive help, it would be a long afternoon.

Game Notes –

– The Buffs’ stat lines did not look like numbers of a winning team. Colorado had only ten first downs against Kansas, only 11 yards passing, and only 221 total yards.

– Ron Brown’s 41-yard run in the fourth quarter was the longest run from scrimmage all season for Colorado.

– Senior linebacker Dan McMillen’s five sacks were such a strong effort that he created a new category in the Colorado record books. Previously, there was no single game sack category. Three players had four “tackles for loss” posted, with the most recent coming by Pete Perry against LSU in 1980.

– McMillen also set the standard for season sacks, posting 14 in 1985. McMillen’s single game mark, and single season mark, endured for over a quarter of a century.

– After a 3-0 start to the 1985 season, Kansas faltered. The Jayhawks were 5-4 when Colorado came to Lawrence, and split the remaining two games after the loss to the Buffs. The 6-6 record (2-5 in Big Eight play) was not good enough for Mike Gottfried to stay as head coach. Gottfried, who went on to become a premier college football analyst, finished his three year stint at Kansas with a 15-18-1 record.


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