October 12th – Boulder           No. 25 Colorado 55, Missouri 7

There is nothing like a loss to bring out the frustrations of a good team.

After being surprised by Baylor in the second game of the season, Colorado had responded with a 58-0 rout of Minnesota. On the heels of the disappointing setback at Stanford in game four, the Buffs again bounced back, this time with a 55-7 mauling of Missouri.

In 101 years of football, Colorado had accumulated over 600 yards in total offense only seven times. Now, the Buffs surpassed 600 for the second time in three games, rolling up 656 yards against the Tigers. The 656 yards represented the fourth highest total in school history.

Quarterback Darian Hagan connected with Michael Westbrook from 21 yards out on Colorado’s first drive of the game, and the Buffs never looked back. A five-yard touchdown run by fullback James Hill near the end of the first quarter pushed the lead to 14-0.

After a 21-yard field goal by Jim Harper, Hagan connected with senior tight end Sean Brown on an 11-yard score as Colorado moved to a 24-0 lead late in the second quarter. On the day, in limited duty, Hagan passed for 119 yards and rushed for 101 more.

In the second half, a number of players saw action as Colorado continued to dominate.

The Buffs scored on their first five possessions of the second half, holding Missouri scoreless until the scoreboard read 55-0. Backup quarterback Vance Joseph ran for one score (for 15 yards), and connected with Michael Westbrook (for 35 yards) for another. Red-shirt freshman wingback Erik Mitchell and senior fullback Tony Senna each scored their first career touchdowns for the Buffs. Mitchell took the ball in from 15 yards out; Senna from the one. In all, six different Buffs scored touchdowns in the rout.

“This whole team was more intense”, said junior nose tackle Joel Steed. “We had an incredible level of belief in what we were doing, and we had to send a message to the rest of the Big Eight.”

The sell-out homecoming crowd of 52,315 left Folsom Field satisfied, but there was no time to dwell on the success. Up next was Oklahoma. The Sooners were the Big Eight favorites, having opened the season 4-0 and climbing as high as No. 5 in the polls after opening the season with three routs.

Before the Buffs could take on the Sooners, though, Oklahoma  was stunned by unranked Texas, 10-7, to fall to No. 12 in the polls. Colorado, meanwhile, with the rout of Missouri, rose to No. 22.

Nebraska, meanwhile, opened its Big Eight campaign with a 49-15 rout of Oklahoma State, moving up to No. 9 in the polls.

Colorado was 1-0 in defense of its conference championship. If the Buffs were to three-peat, however, a second straight win in Norman (where the Buffs were 4-19 all-time) was mandatory.

Fear factor

As a numbers freak, there was more at stake for me as the Buffs headed into the Oklahoma game.

With the loss to Baylor, a record 15 game home winning steak had come to an end. Now at risk were a school record 16 straight conference wins and a record run in the polls – 41 weeks and counting. A loss to the Sooners would leave the Buffs 3-3, a record certain to drop them from the polls for the first time since the start of the 1989 season. It would also mean that the Buffs would be heavy underdogs to Nebraska, making a 7-4 season a distinct possibility.

Going from the penthouse of college football to begging for a minor bowl in one season would be hard to take.

But the Buffs were a resilient bunch, as Colorado fans and the nation were about to learn.

Game Notes …

– Red-shirt freshman wide receiver Michael Westbrook followed up his first career touchdown catch against Stanford with two more against Missouri. His three touchdown catches surpassed the freshman receiving record of two (Westbrook would go on to have five touchdown catches in his freshman season).

– On the afternoon, Colorado ran over 90 plays, held the ball for over 37 minutes, and rushed for over 500 yards.

– Lamont Warren (110 yards) and Darian Hagan (101) both surpassed the 100-yard barrier in limited playing time. The Missouri game marked the first time since the Stanford game in 1990 in which Colorado had two 100-yard rushers in the same game (and the 32nd time in school history).

– Despite not playing most of the second half, Darian Hagan still had the highest output of total offense in 1991, going for 220 yards (101 yards rushing; 119 passing). The 101 yards rushing against Missouri would prove to be a season high for Hagan in 1991.

– Sophomore wide receiver Charles E. Johnson, who would go on to become the first Colorado wide receiver to post over 2,000 career receiving yards (2,447 yards), earned his first start against Missouri. Against the Tigers, Johnson had two catches for 23 yards.

– Senior fullback Tony Senna saw action in 11 games in 1991, but his only carry of the season was his one yard touchdown run against Missouri. Senna came into the 1991 campaign with career totals of eight carries for 44 yards (all in 1989). Senna did lead the team in special teams points in 1991, including two fumble recoveries.

– Red-shirt freshman Erik Mitchell also made the most of his rushing opportunity. His only carry of the 1991 season was his 15-yard touchdown run against the Tigers. (Mitchell also had one reception in 1991, a two-yard gain against Minnesota).

– Red-shirt freshman quarterback Kordell Stewart made his second – and final – appearance on the field in 1991 in the Missouri game. After rushing for 73 yards and a touchdown in the rout of Minnesota, Stewart ran ten times for 71 yards against Missouri.

– Red-shirt freshman Darnell Brooks also saw action in the rout of Missouri. The Colorado Player-of-the-Year in 1989 and a Parade All-American, Brooks had 2,516 yards and 40 touchdowns his senior year at Thomas Jefferson high in Denver, but never got on track in Boulder. Switching between cornerback and tailback, Brooks did not see much time on either side of the ball. Playing five games on defense, Brooks recorded one tackle. On offense, Brooks’ first – and only – carries as a Colorado Buffalo came against Missouri, with Brooks going for 49 yards on seven carries. Despite having three years of eligibility remaining, Brooks did not return to the roster in 1992.

– The Buffs set a number of records in the long time series with Missouri. On the afternoon, the Buffs set new standards against the Tigers for points (55), first downs (37), yards rushing (502), and total offense (656).

– The 656 yards of total offense, the fourth highest in school history, came almost two years to the day after the Buffs put up 662 yards against Iowa State (Oct. 14, 1989). The other two higher totals came in 1971 (676 v. Oklahoma State) and in 1970 (675 v. Air Force).

– Missouri would go on to win only one more game in 1991, a 41-7 rout of Oklahoma State the week after the Colorado game. The Tigers would close out the season with a five game losing streak to end the year with a 3-7-1 record.



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