October 3rd – at Colorado State           Colorado 29, Colorado State 16

Exacting revenge for the 23-7 embarrassment in Boulder the year before, the Buffs traveled to Fort Collins for the first time since 1957, taking home a hard-fought 29-16 win.

Sal Aunese received his first start as quarterback for the Buffs, and responded with Colorado’s first 100+ yard passing effort of the season. Aunese’s stats: four-of-six passing, 139 yards and one touchdown. The 139 total yards were somewhat inflated, though, by a 79-yard touchdown pass to senior split end Drew Ferrando. Aunese also led the Buff rushing attack, running for 83 yards on 18 carries.

The final score was not indicative of how well the Buffs played, especially in the first half.

Before many of the 38,129 who attended the game at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins (a new stadium record, besting the old mark by almost 6,000) could find their seats, Colorado had romped to a 19-0 first quarter lead. Michael Simmons scored on a 14-yard run, Ferrando sprinted past Ram defenders to complete the 79-yard scoring pass play, and Aunese ran the ball in from six yards out (one extra point attempt failed, with a two-point conversion after the third touchdown also failing, making it 19-0 instead of 21-0).

By the time the Rams scored midway through the second quarter, it was already 26-0 Buffs, with Michael Simmons posting his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard run.

The defense for the Buffs shut down the Rams’ running game, allowing only 69 yards on 28 carries. For the third consecutive game, however, Colorado allowed more passing yards than the game before. Oregon had passed for 175 yards in the opener. Thereafter, Stanford passed for 207; Washington State, 264. Quarterback Scooter Molander lit up the Colorado secondary for 398 yards in the comeback effort. (Molander’s 30 completions in 48 attempts at the time represented highs for a Colorado opponent).

Redemption for the Colorado secondary, though, came in the form of three interceptions. For the day, Colorado was the beneficiary of five Ram turnovers. All five were converted into points.

Colorado was now 3-1 as the non-conference portion of the 1987 schedule came to a close, which was quite an improvement from the 0-4 non-conference start of 1986. In 1986, though, the Buffs had rebounded to surprise the conference with an impressive 6-1 record and a second place finish. If the Buffs were to be as successful this year, it would have to be proven early.

The first conference game of the year was to be on the road, against 19th-ranked Oklahoma State.

Game Notes –

– Sal Aunese received his first career start against Colorado State. Aunese would go on to start at quarterback for Colorado in all but one game the remainder of 1987 and all of 1988. Aunese finished the 1987 not only as CU’s leading passer (23-for-51 for 522 yards and three touchdowns), but also the Buffs’ leading rusher (122 carries for 612 yards and six touchdowns)

– Colorado continued to struggle with the kicking game in the CSU game. After the Buffs opened with a 14-yard touchdown run by Michael Simmons, capitalizing on a Mickey Pruitt interception, Eric Hannah made the extra point. A few minutes later, after Aunese found Drew Ferrando all alone for a 79-yard score, Hannah missed the extra point. Later in the first quarter, after Sal Aunese scored to make the score 19-0, Bill McCartney did not go for the extra point, opting for a two-point conversion attempt (which failed). Hannah did connect later on an extra point, as well as a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

– Senior safety Mickey Pruitt had two interceptions against Colorado State, giving him four in two games. Pruitt would go to post a team-high five interceptions in 1987, the most since Clyde Riggins had five interceptions to lead the team in 1981.

– The last time Colorado played Colorado State in Ft. Collins prior to the 1987 game came in 1957, when Colorado shut out the Rams, 20-0. The 1987 victory gave Colorado a 21-7-1 record against the Rams in games played in Ft. Collins. The win also gave the Buffs a 3-1 record against Colorado State in games played since the series resumed in 1983.

– 1987 was the beginning of the end of the Leon Fuller era at Colorado State. The Rams, after a 6-5 season in 1986, would go 1-11 in 1987, with the only win coming over New Mexico (35-13). In 1988, Colorado State would again go 1-11 (only win coming over San Diego State), with Leon Fuller being replaced by Earle Bruce in 1989.


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