October 20th – at Kansas           No. 14 Colorado 41, Kansas 10

Colorado put together a complete game for the first time all season, scoring on its first drive on the way to a 17-0 first quarter lead and a 41-10 win over 1-4-1 Kansas.

Eric Bieniemy rushed for 174 yards on the afternoon, but his three touchdowns were the story of the day. Bieniemy’s second touchdown tied, and his third touchdown broke, Bobby Anderson’s record for career rushing touchdowns. Bieniemy new touchdown total was 35, setting the new standard with five games still to play.

Colorado scored first in a game for the first time in 1990, with a 36-yard field goal by Jim Harper to give the Buffs an early 3-0 lead. A 31-yard touchdown run by Eric Bieniemy, who had 174 yards on just 18 carries on the day, gave Colorado a 10-0 lead midway through the quarter. The rout appeared to be on when Darian Hagan hit Mike Pritchard for a 44-yard touchdown with time still left on the first quarter clock.

Kansas did make a game of it briefly in the second quarter.

A controversial call on a Hagan fumble (Bieniemy claimed he had the ball, but possession was awarded to Kansas at the Colorado 11-yard line), set up a Jayhawk touchdown. “When they gave them that fumble down there on the 10- or 11-yard line, that was a big factor in this game,” said Bill McCartney. “It put Kansas back in position. It put them to within 10 points, and it brought the crowd back into the game.”

Two possessions later, a 26-yard field goal by Dan Eichloff made the score 17-10 late in the half. Once again, though, Darian Hagan worked the two-minute drill for the Buffs, leading Colorado down the field as time expired. Jim Harper connected from 42 yards out to give Colorado a 20-10 halftime edge.

As had been the case with Iowa State, the Buff score just before half seemed to deflate the Buffs’ opponent. As had been the case against the Cyclones, the Buffs dominated the third quarter against the Jayhawks. Eric Bieniemy scored two of his three touchdowns, going in from 41 and ten yards out to put the game out of reach, 34-10. Safety Dave McCloughan returned a punt 90 yards for the final score of the day late in the third quarter, with a scoreless fourth quarter a time for reserves to get some playing time.

“Once we were able to re-establish momentum, then the key was the second half kickoff,” said McCartney, “taking the ball and going 80 yards”.

For Kansas, it was another tough day on the field. “As a coach, you are always looking for secrets to beating a team,” said Jayhawk head coach Glen Mason, whose team fell to 1-5-1, 0-2-1 on the season. “Today, there were no secrets.”

On the day, the Buffs amassed 463 yards of total offense, holding Kansas to 210. It was an overall victory which had been so commonplace in 1989, but which had proven so difficult to achieve in 1990. “Feels good,” said All-American guard and captain Joe Garten. “It’s good for our hearts, and a lot of our fans’ hearts. We don’t like to go down to the wire, but you take them any way you can get them.”

Colorado was now 6-1-1, 3-0 in conference play, with the next two weeks to decide the Buffs’ season.

Colorado had Oklahoma at home, followed by Nebraska in Lincoln. The outcome of those two games would determine whether Colorado would be playing in Miami on New Year’s night. Oklahoma, ranked as high as fourth in the nation after opening the season 5-0, had lost its last two games, 14-13 to Texas, and 33-31 to Iowa State in a shocking upset. The 5-2 Sooners were down to No. 22 in the polls, but it was still “Oklahoma” the Buffs would be taking on at Folsom Field. “Now, we’ve got the great ones coming,” said Joe Garten, referring to the “Big Red Weekends” against Oklahoma and Nebraska.

“We’re an improving team. And we’re getting better,” said Bill McCartney. “I feel good about our club going into these two games.”

Poll Watching

Colorado’s fifth win in a row gave the Buffs an overall record of 6-1-1. Unlike the previous week, when a win over Iowa State had resulted in no movement in the polls, the win over Kansas vaulted Colorado back into the top ten for the first time since the third week of the season.

New No. 10 Colorado was assisted by a number of upsets, as No. 3 Tennessee lost to unranked Alabama, 9-6, to fall to 4-1-2 on the season. In addition, No. 7 Florida State was defeated by No. 5 Auburn, 20-17, No. 10 Michigan lost to No.22 Iowa, 24-23 (to fall to 3-3 on the season, dropping the Wolverines from No. 1 to No. 20 in just two weeks), and No. 11 Georgia Tech was tied by North Carolina, 13-13 (inconsequential nationally at the time; but vital for Colorado at the end of the season).

The fates were shining on Colorado, although there was no way of knowing it at the time. Upsets were allowing a team with one loss and one tie to remain in the national arena. Only No. 8 Miami, which was 4-2 after falling to Notre Dame, 29-20, in the final “Catholics v. Convicts” brawl, was in the top ten despite two blemishes on its record.

Colorado was now receiving credit for its difficult early season schedule, and the Missouri debate was now subsiding. Nebraska, on the other hand, was still in search of respect. Undefeated on the season, the fourth-ranked Cornhuskers remained at No. 4 despite the No. 2 and No. 3 teams (Miami and Tennessee) both losing the previous weekend. “There’s a perception that we haven’t played anybody,” said Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne. “Our schedule (including non-conference games against the likes of Baylor, Northern Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon State) hasn’t been overwhelming.”

No kidding.

Still, Nebraska was undefeated and ranked No. 4, in prime position to play for the national title. Colorado needed a perfect conference record – and a little more luck – to put itself into a similar position.

Game Notes –

– Dave McCloughan’s 90-yard punt return was easily the longest of the 1990 season, but it was still eight yards short of the all-time record, a 98-yarder by Bob West against Colorado College in 1944 (part of a 40-6 Colorado victory). McCloughan, with 524 yards in punt returns (on 32 attempts, including two touchdowns), would go on to lead the nation in punt returns in 1990.

– Oddly enough, in Colorado’s national championship season of 1990, it wasn’t until the Kansas game – the eighth game of the season – that Colorado scored the first points of the game.

– While Eric Bieniemy moved the all-time rushing touchdown mark from 34 to 41, he would still fall just short of the single-season rushing touchdown record. Bieniemy would go for 17 rushing touchdowns in 1990, just one shy of the mark of 18 set by Bobby Anderson in 1969, and matched by J.J. Flannigan in 1989.

– Bieniemy’s 174 yards rushing, coupled with Mike Pritchard’s 114 yard receiving (on only four catches), marked only the eighth time in school history that Colorado had produced a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game.

– Linebackers Chad Brown and Greg Biekert each posted 13 tackles against Kansas. Biekert would go on to lead the team in tackles, with 150, while Brown was second, with 106. Biekert would go on to be named first-team All-Big Eight in 1990, while fellow sophomore Chad Brown would have to wait his turn for the spotlight. At the end of the 1990 season, fellow linebacker Alfred Williams, fifth on the team in tackles (88), but first on the team in sacks (12.5) would be named the Butkus Award winner for the nation’s best linebacker.

– Colorado and Kansas were almost identical in passing numbers, with the Jayhawks posting 136 yards to the Buffs’ 135. On the day, however, Colorado rushed for 328 yards, holding Kansas to a mere 74 yards on 44 carries.

– Kansas, 1-4-1 before the Colorado game, would rally to defeat Kansas State and Oklahoma State the following two weekends, but would drop the final two games of 1990 to finish 3-7-1, 2-4-1 in Big Eight play. 1990 was the ninth straight season without a winning record in Lawrence, a string which would be broken in 1991 (when the Jayhawks finished with a 6-5 record).

Associated Press Poll – October 22, 1990

1. Virginia

2. Auburn

3. Notre Dame

4. Nebraska

5. Illinois

6. Houston

7. Washington

8. Miami

9. BYU

10. Colorado

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