November 19th – Boulder           Colorado 56, Kansas State 14

The Buffs had a great deal to play for in the season finale against Kansas State. Fortunately for CU fans, the Buffs came out smoking against the hapless Wildcats, rolling to a 56-14 win. J.J. Flannigan scored the Buffs= first touchdown on Colorado=s opening possession. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 21-0, Buffs, and the rout was on.

Flannigan, playing for the injured Eric Bieniemy, set a new personal best of 151 yards and three touchdowns. In all, Colorado amassed 555 yards of total offense, the best effort to date in the McCartney era.

Numerous substitutes were given significant playing time, as Colorado was on top, 35-7, by halftime. Sophomore quarterback Marc Walters connected on only four-of-six passes in the second half, with two going for touchdowns. The first was a nine-yard pass to senior tight end Tom Stone, the second a 90-yard bomb to wide receiver Jeff Campbell. While it was not a surprise that Stone=s touchdown catch was the first of his collegiate career, it surprised many that Campbell, who had scored on five reverses in his three seasons as a Buff (including the unforgettable 39-yard score against Nebraska in 1986), had not previously scored through the air.

Hard to believe, but only 32,617 were on hand to witness the event.

Granted, it was late November, and Kansas State was 0-10 coming into the game, but it was an important game for the Colorado football program. Head coach Bill McCartney had indicated that 1988 was to be the beginning of a new era for Colorado, one wherein the Buffs would be annually be considered as a Top 20 team. The Buffs deserved more support, but played as if the small crowd did not concern them.

The convincing win gave Colorado an 8-3 overall record, the best for the Buffs since 1976. It was not enough to move the Buffs into the polls, though, as when the poll came out after the Kansas State game, Colorado was still ranked just outside the poll, at 21st (although Colorado did move up to 16th in the CNN/USA Today coaches= poll). The same ranking held true the next two weeks as Colorado remained idle, waiting for a bowl bid.

Colorado entered the post-season right on the edge of the national spotlight. A bowl win would leave Colorado on pollsters minds as 1989 dawned.

Freedom Bowl Bound

Colorado had posted a 7-4 record in 1987, but did not receive a bowl invitation. The 1988 Buffs finished 8-3, and would not be denied again.

The call came from the Freedom Bowl, marking Colorado’s second appearance in four seasons in the Anaheim, California, bowl. For an opponent, Colorado drew BYU. The Cougars had been 8-2 on the 1988 season before stumbling the last two games. Poised for a second place finish in the WAC, BYU had been surprised by in-state rival Utah, falling to the Utes for the first time in ten years, 57-28. The Cougars then faced 2nd-ranked Miami on the road, and were mauled, 41-17, which included a halftime score of 34-3.

Still, Colorado could not take BYU lightly.

The Buffs and Cougars had only one common opponent, Colorado State, during the season. Colorado had fought off the Rams, 27-23, while BYU had routed CSU, 42-7. What Colorado accomplished by land, BYU accomplished by air. Led by quarterback Sean Covey, BYU had continued under head coach LaVell Edwards a long-standing tradition of passing prowess. The Freedom Bowl was BYU’s eleventh consecutive bowl appearance, and 13th overall in Edwards’ 17-year tenure.

If Colorado was to look only to the results of the last two games played by the Cougars, they would be setting themselves up for disappointment.

Game Notes … 

– Against Kansas State, Colorado players accomplished a feat never before seen in almost 100 years of Colroado football. The multiple 100-yard rushing games was not unique, though J.J. Flannigan’s 151 yards and Marcus Reliford’s 125 yards did represent only the 25th time in school history in which two Buffs had over 100 yards in the same game. Rather, it was the addition of Jeff Campbell’s 102 yards receiving (on only two catches) which makes the game unique. Five times previously, Colorado had posted a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game, but before November 19, 1988, Colorado had never before had two 100-yard rushers to go with a 100-yard receiver.

– The Marc Walters to Jeff Campbell 90-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter also set a new school record – for the longest pass play in Colorado history. The previous record was 87 yards, on a pass from Zach Jordan to Frank Bernardi against Kansas in 1952. (The record would stand until 1992, when Koy Detmer hit Charles Johnson for a 92-yard score against Oklahoma).

– The 56 points posted by the Buffs was a 16-year best. Not since 1972, when Colorado topped Cincinnati, 56-14, had a Colorado team scored as many points in a single game. To find a higher total, one had to go back to 1958, when the Buffs routed Arizona, 65-12.

– Had Kansas State made more of a game of it, J.J. Flannigan may have tied or broken a school record. Subbing for an injured Eric Bieniemy, Flannigan had touchdown runs of 16, 11, and four yards – all in the first half. The team record for rushing touchdowns in a game was four, set by Byron “Whizzer” White in 1937, and tied by seven others, most recently James Mayberry in 1978.

– Flannigan not only set a personal best with his 151 yards against Kansas State, the effort also marked the third straight game in which Flannigan had rushed for over 100 yards in a game.

– A number of players, not surprisingly, had season highs against Kansas State. Fullback George Hemingway had a season high 38 yards, and scored his only touchdown of the season. Sophomore Mike Pritchard doubled his rushing total for the season, from three carries to six (though his three carries against the Wildcats went for a minus-four yards). Freshman Marcus Reliford had a season high in both carries and yards. Called on for only 16 carries all season prior to the Kansas State game, Reliford had 17 carries, for 125 yards, and a touchdown, against Kansas State.

– Sophomore quarterback Marc Walters saw his 1988 passing statistics improve significantly against Kansas State. Prior to the regular season finale, Walters had played in three games, completing four-of-seven passes. Against the Wildcats, Walters went four-of-six for 150 yards and two touchdowns (the two touchdown passes actually being a season high for the Buffs). The snaps against Kansas State would be the last for Walters as a Buff, as he did not return to Boulder for his junior year in 1989.

– The 56-14 domination of Kansas State was the final nail in the Stan Parrish coffin. The Wildcats finished the 1988 season with an 0-11 record, and completed the three year run by head coach Stan Parrish with an almost unbelievable 2-31-1 record. Parrish did manage a 1-1-1 record against rival Kansas, but went 0-18 against the remainder of the Big Eight. Parrish would be replaced in 1989 by Bill Snyder, who took on an impossible task at Manhattan … and made it work.


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