September 6th – Boulder          Colorado State 23, Colorado 7

All signs pointed toward a victory for Colorado in their opener against Colorado State.

Colorado had gone 4-0 at home in 1985 against unranked opponents.  Colorado State was predicted to be a good team in 1986, having gone 5-7 in 1985, but the Rams were not considered a threat to BYU’s dominance in the Western Athletic Conference, and was certainly was not a Top 20 team.  What was more, the Buffs came into the game against the Rams with a 45-15-2 advantage in the series, including a 31-3 win in 1983.

The stars were aligned for a great start to the 1986 season.

Unfortunately for Buff fans, the game would not be played on paper.

Frustrating is the only word to describe the 23-7 loss to Colorado State in the 1986 season opener.  The Buffs moved the ball, racking up 304 yards of total offense and an average of five yards per play.  The defense held up its end, surrendering only one touchdown drive all afternoon (and that coming on an eight yard drive).

Then what went wrong?

Six turnovers.

Four fumbles and a pair of interceptions, the last being returned by Ram linebacker Dale Carr 38 yards for a touchdown.  In all, Colorado’s six turnovers led to 20 of the Rams’ 23 points.  Colorado quarterback Mark Hatcher, criticized even in victory in 1985 for his inability to pass, completed only four of his 15 attempts.  Two of Hatcher’s passes were intercepted, with several others missing open receivers badly.

Trailing only 3-0 at halftime, the Buffs were still very much in the game as the 45,109 on hand settled back into their seats in nervous anticipation.  Two turnovers in the Buffs’ first three possessions, though, led to a 13-0 score.  The grounded Buffs thereafter were not able to catch up. A fourth quarter consolation score – a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Marquez after the score had risen to 23-0 – was all the Colorado offense could muster.

The 1986 season, which had begun with such promise, had kicked off on a sour note.

And it was about to get worse.

Game Notes –

– The victory for the Rams was the first in the series since 1958.

– Colorado State kicker Steve DeLine, brother of Buff kicker Dave DeLine, got the better of the sibling rivalry, connecting on field goals of 40, 38, and 25 yards. Dave missed his only attempt, a 52-yarder.

– There were few highlights for the Buffs statistically. Junior wide receiver Jo Jo Collins had four receptions for 69 yards, punter Barry Helton had six kicks for an average of 47.8 yards, and sophomore quarterback Alan Strait, subbing for the ineffective Mark Hatcher, connected on all four of his passes for 46 yards.

– The Colorado defense had four players with double-digits in tackles, led by linebackers Barry Remington (15) and Don DeLuzio (13), and linemen Kyle Rappold (10) and Curt Koch (10).

– The Rams built on the upset win over Colorado, running out to a 5-2 record in 1986, including an upset 24-20 win over BYU. The Rams, though, stumbled down the stretch, losing three of the last four, finishing 6-5 and staying home for the holidays.


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