October 7th – Boulder            No. 3 Colorado 49, Missouri 3

Missouri head coach Bob Stull spent ten years as an assistant to Washington head coach Don James before taking over for the Tigers in 1989.  “It’s amazing to see they scored (45) against the Huskies out there”, said Stull the week before the Colorado/Missouri game.  “They’re extremely strong this year.”

It took all of 34 seconds that Saturday for Stull and his Tigers to discover just how strong.

On the first play of the game, Colorado quarterback Darian Hagan connected with Jeff Campbell for 58 yards to the Missouri nine yard line.  On the next play, Hagan ran the ball in for a 7-0 Colorado lead with 14:26 still to play in the first quarter.  By the end of the first stanza, the score stood at Colorado 21, Missouri 0, as Hagan scored twice more, on a two-yard run midway through the first quarter, and an eight yard run just two minutes later.

By halftime, the score was 35-0, Buffs.  Most of the first line players sat out the second half as Colorado cruised to a 49-3 final score.

In one half worth of work, Hagan ran for 106 yards and completed all six of his passes for another 156 yards.  In all, the Buffs amassed 595 of total yards; 401 in the first half.  Joining Hagan in the onslaught was Eric Bieniemy, who had 116 yards, including a 26-yard run to put the Buffs up, 35-0, late in the second quarter.

While the Colorado offense was in high gear, enough could not be said about the Colorado defense.

Missouri was held to just 16 yards rushing, and could only muster a third quarter field goal in the rout. The rushing mark was the best effort for a Colorado defense since the Buffs had set a school record in 1975 by “holding” Wichita State to a minus-40 yards rushing.

Taking Aim at  No. 1

With the Missouri rout, the Colorado Buffaloes were now 5-0 on the 1989 season.  The big win was enough to persuade two Associated Press pollsters to vote Colorado as the best team in the nation.  This vote represented the first time since 1977 that the Buffs had received a vote as the No. 1 team in the nation (October 10, 1977 – the 5-0 Buffs received one vote. The following weekend, the No. 3 Buffs were tied by Kansas, 17-17, and fell to 7th in the polls).

Notre Dame, which was still solidly entrenched as the nation’s No. 1 team with 54 votes, lost three votes from the previous week despite a 27-17 win over Stanford.  The other defecting writer went with Miami, which now had four first place votes and remained No. 2 after routing Cincinnati, 56-0.

While Colorado was a national story, even winning the Big Eight was not a guarantee. Hot on the Buffs’ tails was Nebraska, which remained at No. 4 after mauling Kansas State, 58-7.

How good were these Buffs?  Missouri had now played both Colorado and Miami.  Cornerback Otis Smith of the Tigers, who had been on the field when Miami defeated Missouri, 38-7, two weeks before the Colorado/Missouri game, gave the nod to the Buffs.  “My own belief is that Colorado is way better than Miami,” said Smith after the 49-3 pasting.  “They’re faster, bigger, stronger and a better team overall.”

Games against Iowa State (3-2, which included wins over Ohio University and Tulane) and Kansas (2-3, with the Jayhawks’ only wins coming over Montana State and Kent State) were all that were between the Buffs and consecutive games against ranked Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State.  “Focus” was again the watchword in Boulder.  Colorado players could not afford a loss to the lesser Big Eight teams if there was to be any chance of keeping their promise to Sal Aunese and earn a bid to the Orange Bowl.

Game Notes –

– 51,855 were on hand to witness the Colorado rout of Missouri. The game represented the first sell-out of Folsom Field since 1987, and the largest home crowd for the Buffs against any opponent other than Nebraska or Oklahoma since the 1983 game against Notre Dame.

– Colorado had 19 first downs in the first half alone, holding the ball for almost 21 minutes.

– M.J. Nelson contributed in all facets. The senior had one rush and one catch, each for 41 yards. Nelson also had a kickoff return for 18 yards, and two punt returns for 64 yards (one of which went for Colorado season-best 57 yards).

– For the second time in 1989, and the 27th time in school history, the Buffs had two players rush for over 100 yards, with Eric Bieniemy going for 116 yards; Darian Hagan 106.

– Sophomore punter Tom Rouen was only called upon once all game, but he made his effort count, booting a 50-yarder (his Missouri counterpart had nine opportunities). Rouen would go on to average 45.86 yards per punt in 1989 (43.8 yards net). Rouen would be named a consensus All-American in 1989, joined by fellow Buffs Joe Garten and Alfred Williams.

– Senior defensive tackle Arthur Walker had only five tackles against Missouri, but he made them count, as three went for losses; two of those were sacks. For his efforts, Walker would be named Big Eight Defensive Player-of-the-Week. Walker would conclude the 1989 season with 62 tackles, including seven sacks, and would be named a first-team All-Big Eight defensive performer.

– Overall, the Colorado defense against Missouri set season highs for sacks (six) and pass deflections (8).

– The win gave Colorado a five-game winning streak in the series, including successive routs (45-8 and 49-3). The Buffs still trailed badly in the overall series, 18-33-3, but finally pulled even in games played in Boulder (13-13-1).

– In Missouri’s first season under head coach Bob Stull, the Tigers only got into double digits in scoring once in the season’s first six games (a 14-10 opening game win over TCU). A 21-9 verdict over Kansas State would represent the only other win in a 2-9 season (which included a wild 46-44 loss to Kansas in the final game of the season).


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