September 17th – at Iowa           Colorado 24, No. 19 Iowa 21

In pulling off Colorado=s first road win over a ranked team in CU’s seven seasons under Bill McCartney, the Buffs gave notice of their potential, upsetting Iowa, 24-21.

Quarterback Sal Aunese plunged in from a yard out with 1:55 remaining to cap an 85-yard drive to give the Buffs the win. The final drive began with less than six minutes remaining after safety Dave McCloughan forced a Chuck Hartlieb fumble at the Colorado 15-yard line.

On third-and-nine early in the drive, Aunese hooked up with senior Jeff Campbell on a 23-yard completion. Eric Bieniemy contributed runs of 22 and 10 yards leading up to the winning score.

Early on, Colorado looked like world-beaters, racing to a 14-0 first quarter lead. Running back J.J. Flannigan opened the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run, followed a few minutes later by a 17-yard scoring run by quarterback Sal Aunese.

By halftime, though, Iowa had tied the game, thanks in part to a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown. By the end of the third quarter, Iowa had a 21-17 lead, and was poised for victory with the fourth quarter clock ticking away before McCloughan=s heroics gave the Buffs one last chance.

Behind Bieniemy and Aunese, the Buffs were now 2-0, with games against struggling Oregon State and Colorado State left on the non-conference schedule.

A national ranking was now there for the Buffs to achieve. The win over Iowa pushed the Buffs up to 30th in the Associated Press poll. The news was even better in the USA Today/CNN coaches= poll, where the Buffs debuted with a ranking of 23rd (the coaches= poll recognized the top 25 teams, while the AP poll would not expand to 25 teams until 1990). A pair of impressive wins would likely put the Buffs back in the (more prestigious AP) top 20 for the first time since 1978.

It was heady stuff. The goal of a national ranking was on the near horizon. One of the first goals for the 1988 season was about to be accomplished. Unfortunately, Colorado was about to begin playing as if their win over Iowa would be enough to frighten future opponents into submission.

They should have known better.

Game Notes –

– Sophomore running back Eric Bieniemy had 25 carries for 153 yards against the Hawkeyes. For his efforts, Bieniemy was named the Big Eight Offensive Player-of-the-Week.

– Not to be outdone, junior safety Bruce Young earned Big Eight Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors against Iowa. Young had 11 tackles (10 solo), an interception, a sack, and a pass deflection.

– Sophomore linebacker Alfred Williams’ efforts – seven tackles (including four tackles for loss), two sacks, a forced fumble (which set up the game-winning drive) and a recovered fumble – did not win Big Eight Defensive Player-of-the-Week, but they were good enough to be named national Defensive Player-of-the-Week by The Sporting News.

– The winning score, coming with 1:55 to play, marked the first time since 1982 that the Buffs had rallied to win in the final two minutes of a game (the 1982 rally resulted in a tie, when Tom Field kicked a 49-yard field goal with no time remaining to earn Colorado a 25-25 tie against Oklahoma State).

– Junior wide receiver Jeff Campbell had four receptions (for 94 yards) against Iowa. The totals are not overly impressive, but Campbell’s four catches represented the highest total for catches by any Colorado receiver in 1988.

– For the second week in succession, the Buffs held an opponent under 100 yards rushing. Colorado held Fresno State to 97 yards rushing in the opener, with Iowa managing to post only 75 yards on the ground.

– The Colorado game against Iowa in 1988 represented the first meeting between the two schools.

– The win over Iowa represented the first win for Colorado over a ranked opponent on the road in almost ten years. The last time the Buffs pulled the trick came in 1978, when Colorado upset 13th-ranked Missouri in Columbia, 28-27.

– Iowa came into the 1988 season with plenty of optimism. The Hawkeyes were 10-3 in 1987, and opened the 1988 campaign ranked 9th in the nation. After the loss to Colorado, Iowa went on to post a 6-3-3 regular season record, including a never-to-be-seen again 4-1-3 record in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes then fell to North Carolina State, 28-23, in the Peach Bowl.


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