September 28th – at Stanford           Stanford 28, No. 17 Colorado 21

“Touchdown” Tommy Vardell lived up to his nickname, scoring three touchdowns in leading Stanford to a 28-21 upset of 17th-ranked Colorado. Vardell rushed for 114 yards, also contributing 97 yards receiving, in posting almost as many total yards as the entire Buff offense. On the day, Stanford out-gained Colorado, 485-270, holding the Buffs to their lowest offensive output in two years.

Stanford took a 7-0 lead on the game’s first drive on a Vardell one-yard run. In the second quarter, however, the Buffs responded with 14 points of their own. Red-shirt freshman cornerback Chris Hudson returned an interception 40 yards for one score, with Darian Hagan connecting with red-shirt freshman wide receiver Michael Westbrook from 20 yards out to give Colorado a 14-7 halftime lead.

The remainder of the game was left to the Stanford offense, with Vardell scoring twice in the fourth quarter.

Vardell’s third score on the day gave Stanford a 28-14 lead with only 6:37 to play. A ten-yard touchdown run by Lamont Warren pulled the Buffs to within seven a few minutes later, but the Buffs would not see the ball the remainder of the afternoon.

Colorado was now 2-2 on the season, and defense of its national title was over … before conference play even began.

The next poll saw Colorado clinging to the final poll spot, at No. 25. The Big Eight championship was still a possibility, and a three-peat as conference champions was plenty of incentive.

Still, Buff fans had to be realistic. If Colorado could be handled by a Stanford squad which had come into the contest 0-2, how could the Buffs be expected to handle the likes of Oklahoma and Nebraska?

The Buffs had two weeks to think about that, having a bye week before facing Missouri.

It would be a long two weeks.

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

The losses to Baylor and Stanford were true shockers.

Both were decent teams (Stanford would recover from its 0-2 start to finish 8-4 on the season. Baylor, after a 5-0 start, would also finish 8-4). But, for the first time since 1988, the college football world would go about discussing the race for the national title without mentioning the Buffs. Yes, there was the chance of a three-peat as Big Eight champions, but that had to be seen as a long-shot. A third place finish behind Oklahoma and Nebraska, and relegation to a minor bowl, had to be seen as realistic.

Jimmy Buffet gave us the song about changes in latitudes and changes in attitudes. The 1991 Colorado Buffaloes had to adjust their attitudes during the bye week. The focus now had to be on the conference title. Not that a three-peat had not been a primary goal earlier, although that would be sweet in its own right.

No, the focus on the Big Eight came about because that was all that was left.

Before Colorado could worry about a trip to Norman to face the 5th-ranked Sooners, there was the matter of the Homecoming contest against Missouri. The Tigers were 2-1-1 in non-conference play, and had aspirations of their own heading into conference play.

Game Notes:

– Darian Hagan threw for a touchdown pass against Stanford, marking the first time in school history that a Colorado quarterback had thrown for a touchdown pass in six consecutive games (the streak would reach eight before ending against Kansas State three games later).

– Tommy Vardell had 114 yards rushing against the Buffs, while teammate Glyn Milburn added 106 yards. The Stanford game marked the first time since 1987 that a team had two backs rush for over 100 yards in the same game.

– Red-shirt freshman cornerback Chris Hudson had a 36-yard kickoff return against Stanford, the longest by a Buff all season. Hudson would go on to have ten kickoff returns in 1991 (tying Charles Johnson for the team lead), for 155 yards. Hudson played in all 12 games in 1991, earning two starts. Hudson set a freshman record for interceptions (four), including the 40-yarder for a touchdown against Stanford. Hudson became the first freshman ever to lead the team in interceptions, and the first non-starter to do so since 1964 (Ted Somerville). Hudson’s 486 snaps from scrimmage were the most by any non-starter in 1991.

– The 1991 game marked the first time in the series that Colorado traveled to Palo Alto to play Stanford. Previously, the Buffs had run up a 3-1 series lead, with Colorado winning all three games played in Boulder, and Stanford defeating the Buffs in a 1904 game played in Denver.


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