September 11th – Boulder           No. 10 Colorado 45, No. 24 Baylor 21

Just like that, the would-be questionable Colorado Buffaloes looked like world-beaters.

After forcing six turnovers against Texas, the Buffs’ defense forced three first-half fumbles against Baylor, helping the Buffs cruise to a 21-0 first quarter lead. By half, it was a 35-0 laugher as Colorado went on to crush 24th-ranked Baylor, 45-21.

“Our defense is like a time bomb”, said wide receiver Michael Westbrook. “When we (the offense) get to the sidelines anymore, we don’t take our helmets off. We know we are going to go right back in.”

The first few series of the game gave evidence of the truth of Westbrook’s comments. On Baylor’s first possession of the game, senior cornerback Dennis Collier recovered a fumbled pitch by Bear quarterback J.J. Joe. Nine plays and 45 yards later, Lamont Warren scored from a yard out to put Colorado on top to stay, 7-0. After the Buffs’ defense forced a punt, the offense went 80 yards on just two plays, culminating in a 69-yard bomb from Stewart to Charles E. Johnson.

On Baylor’s very next offensive play, the Bears fumbled again. This time the ball was recovered by senior safety Greg Lindsey. Taking the field, the Buffs turned to its improving running game. Taking off on the option on Colorado’s first play after the fumble recovery, Stewart pitched to James Hill. Hill rambled downfield, but fumbled the football into the endzone. There the ball was recovered by the ever-present Charles E. Johnson. Johnson had his second touchdown in 19 seconds of game clock, and the Buffs had a 21-0 lead with 5:08 still remaining in the first quarter.

The game was now essentially over, even though there was still some 50 minutes left to be played.

The second quarter was more of the same, as Stewart did the honors on a two-yard run early in the stanza to raise the lead to 28-0. Then, on the final play of the half, Stewart hit Charles E. Johnson from 39 yards out on a pass which was tipped by Michael Westbrook. The third touchdown of the game for Johnson gave the Buffs a 35-0 halftime advantage.

The second half was played mostly with backups.

Junior quarterback Vance Joseph connected with freshman wide receiver James Kidd for a 25-yard score before Baylor out-scored Colorado 21-3 the rest of the way to finish off the 45-21 rout.

“I thought we were sharp on both sides of the ball and were opportunistic in taking advantage of the mistakes they made,” understated coach Bill McCartney after the game. “To score 35 points against them in the half was a significant thing.”

Quarterback Kordell Stewart did not play in the second half, but put up gaudy numbers nonetheless. Stewart completed 14-of-18 passes for 221 yards and two scores. Overall, the Buffs’ offense accounted for 535 total yards, the second straight week over the 500-yard mark.

The Buffs were now 2-0 in 1993, and had looked impressive in getting there.

Still, there were concerns. “It is difficult to ascertain quite where we are,” acknowledged McCartney. Games against Top 20 Stanford and Top 5 Miami were up next. Turnovers had doomed Texas and Baylor, but they could not be depended on for every game. “If we can’t rely on turnovers (by Stanford and Miami), that’s OK,” junior offensive tackle Derek West said confidently. “I don’t think we’ll need them. It shouldn’t be a factor.”

The Colorado offense was playing brilliantly, and the defense had been opportunistic. There was little more a Buff fan could have hoped for as the Buffs headed off to the West coast to play Bill Walsh-coached Stanford.

Basking in the Sun

There was only one thing I could find to complain about while watching the Buffs cruise past Baylor on a bright, sunny, afternoon in Boulder …

… that being the bright, sunny afternoon itself.

The official temperature at kickoff was 84 degrees, but down near the field where we were (in 1993, our season tickets were down in the endzone underneath the Dal Ward Center), the temperature as the sun reflected off of the Astroturf and silver bleachers had to be at least 100. I felt empathy for the black-jerseyed Buffs as they took the field. Fortunately for all of us, the Baylor Bears did not give any of us reason for any extra sweat. The 21-0 first quarter lead made all discomforts palatable.

Driving back to Bozeman the next day, as the bleak landscape of eastern Wyoming rolled past, thoughts turned to a run for the national championship.

The Buffs had dominated two presumably good teams. The remaining schedule, though difficult, would help pave the way to a title if it could be survived. The win over Baylor attracted enough converts to raise the Buffs to 7th in the polls. Stanford, though ranked 20th, was not looking dominant. The Cardinal had lost to Washington in its opener, and had just survived against San Jose State, pulling out a 31-28 win.

It appeared that the Stanford game would be just another opportunity for the Buffs to expose another pretender on the national stage.

A pretender did emerge … but it was not Stanford.

Game Notes –

– Charles E. Johnson scored three touchdowns against Baylor – all in the first half. It would turn out to be the most points scored by any Buff in a single game all season. Johnson finished the game with six catches for 151 yards. His 69-yard touchdown reception moved Johnson past Monte Huber (1967-69) as the all-time receiving yards leader in Colorado history. Huber posted 1,436 receiving yards in his career at Colorado, but, by the end of the 1993 season, Johnson had not only passed Huber, but added over 1,000 yards more, finishing his career with 2,447 yards.

– Kordell Stewart enjoyed great success against Baylor. In two games, Stewart went 30-of-35 passing for 472 yards and five touchdowns.

– The 25-yard touchdown pass from Vance Joseph to James Kidd was the  only touchdown either player accounted for in 1993.

– Junior linebacker Ted Johnson led the defense with 16 tackles (ten solo) against Baylor. Johnson would go on to lead the team in tackles on the season with 131 total tackles.

– The victory gave Colorado a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series with Baylor, with the Buffs putting up 102 points in victories in 1992 (57-38) and 1993 (45-21).

– Baylor, in its first season under head coach Chuck Reedy, would go on to post a 5-6 record in 1993, with a 3-4 record in Southwest Conference play.


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