December 28th – Freedom Bowl, Anaheim, California           BYU 20, Colorado 17

The only lead BYU would enjoy the entire game would be when it counted most, as BYU defeated Colorado, 20-17, in the 1988 Freedom Bowl. BYU kicker Jason Chaffetz connected from 35 yards out with 2:33 remaining to give BYU its first lead and the victory.

It was a frustrating loss for Colorado, as two costly turnovers and nine penalties relegated the Buffs to their fifth consecutive bowl loss.

No doubt, Colorado had its chances.

Early on, it appeared that the Buffs would have their way, with Eric Bieniemy scoring from one yard out to give Colorado a 7-0 lead early after a BYU turnover. Later, after the Cougars had tied the score, Bieniemy again scored from a yard out to give the Buffs a 14-7 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Colorado twice penetrated the Cougar 20, only to come away empty.

Enter Ty Detmer.

Detmer, a freshman quarterback from Texas, replaced starting quarterback Sean Covey, who was ineffective against the Colorado defense. Detmer led the Cougars on a third-quarter scoring drive, culminated on a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chuck Cutler.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Buffs reclaimed the lead, 17-14, on a 19-yard field goal by freshman Pat Blottiaux, Detmer, though, led the Cougars on two field goal drives of their own, the second being the game winner late in the game.

A disheartened Colorado squad finished 1988 with an 8-4 record. The eight wins were a step up from the 6-6 and 7-5 campaigns of 1986 and 1987, but not all that the Buffs had envisioned.

Aside from a 20-point rout at the hands of Oklahoma State, the Buffs had been in position to win every other game, coming within three points of Oklahoma, which would finish the season ranked 14th, and within seven points of Nebraska, which would finish 10th. A final ranking of 23rd in the CNN/USA Today coaches= poll was of some consolation, but one of the major goals for the season, a national ranking in the Associated Press poll, had been tasted for only one week of the year.


The 1989 edition of the Colorado Buffs, playing in the 100th year of Colorado football, would not only be a young team …  it would be hungry.

Freedom Bowl Blues

The Freedom Bowl loss to BYU was hard to take.

From our vantage point, it certainly appeared that the Buffs had outplayed the Cougars, but it was BYU which made the plays at the end to win the game. I had not been especially confident going into the Bluebonnet Bowl two years earlier, as the Buffs were just happy to be bowling after an 0-4 start, and the game was practically a home game for Baylor. But against a BYU team, especially one which had been routed in its two previous games, I was sure we were going to win.

Equally disappointing was the size of the crowd. 35,941 fit quite easily into Anaheim Stadium, which has a capacity of 70,500. The attendance was actually the second highest in the five year history of the game, but the crowd looked and felt small. It was not the electric atomosphere which I had anticipated, and the players seemed to play as if they agreed.

If offered an 8-4 record at the beginning of the season, I would have taken it, no questions asked. Still, with the BYU loss the season seemed to be one of lost opportunities. Oklahoma and Nebraska had been there for the taking, yet the Buffs had not capitalized on the chances presented.

How long might it be until such conditions would again exist?

Try nine months. The 1988 Colorado Buffaloes had set the stage for the greatest season in Colorado football history.

We just didn’t realize it as we filed out of a quiet Anaheim Stadium.

Here is the YouTube video of the game, courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul:


Game Notes –

– Freshman kicker Pat Blottiaux hit on one of three field goal attempts. The 19-yarder in the third quarter against BYU was the first made field goal of his career.

– The bowl loss was the fifth in a row for Colorado, dropping the Buffs’ all-time bowl record to 4-9.

– Eric Bieniemy had 144 yards rushing against the Cougars, but the total was nowhere near the Colorado bowl game record – 254 yards by Bobby Anderson against Alabama in the 1969 Liberty Bowl.

– The nine penalties called against the Buffs did set a new standard for bowl games, surpassing the eight flags thrown against Colorado in the 1957 Orange Bowl against Clemson.

– Sal Aunese, in his final game as a Buff (he would be diagnosed with cancer the following spring), went four-of-13 passing, for 46 yards, and carried the ball 14 times for 49 yards.

– Brigham Young had lost three of its final four regular season games in 1988, but the Freedom Bowl win gave the Cougars a 9-4 overall record for the season.

– The win was only the third for BYU in the series. Colorado still led the overall rivalry 8-3-1.


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