November 1st – at Oklahoma State           Colorado 31, Oklahoma State 14

The undefeated – at least in Big Eight conference play – Colorado Buffaloes traveled to Stillwater, Oklahoma for a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, just seven days after accomplishing the impossible in defeating No. 3 Nebraska.

How would the Buffs, 3-0 in the Big Eight (for the first time since 1967), 3-4 overall, play against the 3-4 Cowboys?  After all, the reality was that Colorado had not defeated Oklahoma State since 1981, and had not won in Stillwater since 1976.

It was the story of two halves.

Fortunately for Colorado, the game lasted sixty minutes, with the Buffs coming away with a 31-14 win.

In the first half, the Buffs played as if the huge win against Nebraska entitled them to coast against any lesser opponent.  The Buffs sleep-walked their way to a 14-3 halftime deficit.  Out-gained in total yards at the break by a margin of 219-95, Colorado seemed to have reverted back to the Buffs who had opened the 1986 campaign 0-4.

The second half, however, demonstrated that a corner had in fact been turned.

“Fear is a great motivator”, said nose tackle Kyle Rappold after the game, “Just the realization that so much was riding on it …. we really want a slugfest against Oklahoma for the Big Eight championship.”  Head coach Bill McCartney agreed that the Buffs’ positive attitude emerged at the half:  “I think our kids were really angry at halftime.  Not deflated, just angry and determined.”

On the Buffs’ first possession of the second half, the offense drove 74 yards on nine plays for a touchdown that reduced the Cowboys’ lead to 14-10.  The drive, culminating in a 23-yard pass from Mark Hatcher to freshman halfback O.C. Oliver, changed the momentum for the remainder of the game.

The Buffs went on to out-score the Cowboys, 28-0, in the second half, cruising to a 31-14 win.

As poorly as the first half stat sheet had appeared, the second half was golden: 254 total yards to 80 for the Cowboys; 13 Colorado first downs to just four for Oklahoma State. Quarterback Mark Hatcher led the attack, running for one score in rushing for a team high 69 yards. Hatcher also completed four-of-seven passes for 68 yards, including the 23-yard touchdown pass to O.C. Oliver in the third quarter to ignite the rally.

When Hatcher left the field with an injured shoulder early in the fourth quarter, it was left to freshman quarterback Marc Walters to protect a 17-14 lead.  Walters came through, directing the Buffs to two more scores to secure the Buffs’ first 4-0 conference start since 1961. The first of the fourth quarter scores came as fullback Anthony Weatherspoon recovered an O.C. Oliver fumble in the endzone, with the second coming on a two-yard run by Sam Smith.

Despite the overall record of 4-4, Colorado controlled its own destiny in the Big Eight Conference race for the Orange Bowl.  A “warm-up” game (if the University of Colorado could be allowed, in 1986, to use such a term) against Kansas was all that stood between the Buffs and a showdown against the mighty Oklahoma Sooners for the Big Eight title.

Not bad for a team which had gone 0-fer-September.

Game Notes –

– The 23-yard reception for O.C. Oliver was only his second of the season, having had one catch for seven yards in the opener against Colorado State.

– Freshman quarterback Marc Walters went two-for-two passing against the Cowboys, the first two completions of his career (Walters played late in the rout of Iowa State two weeks earlier, missing on both of his pass attempts in that game).

– The 31-point outburst against Oklahoma State was the highest point total for the Buffs in the series since a 37-20 victory in 1974. The 1986 game marked just the second time in the decade that Colorado had scored over 20 points against the Cowboys (the teams tied, 25-25, in 1982).

– Freshman defensive tackle Cole Hayes earned his first start of the season against Oklahoma State. Hayes would go on to start the final four games of the 1986 season, as well as the Bluebonnet Bowl, a year after switching over to the defense from his original position, tight end.

– Oklahoma State, 3-4 coming into the Colorado game, rallied to win its final three games, finishing 6-5 overall. Unlike Colorado, however, which also finished 6-5, Oklahoma State was not invited to a bowl game in 1986.


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