November 7th – at Oklahoma State        No. 23 Colorado 31, Oklahoma State 14

Overcoming a lackluster effort against Nebraska, quarterback Kordell Stewart responded with a record-setting performance as Colorado dominated Oklahoma State, 31-14.

Stewart, who threw three interceptions against the Cornhuskers (after previously throwing only two all season), and who had finished with only eight completions against Nebraska, bombed the Cowboys for a season-high 328 yards and three touchdowns. In torching Oklahoma State, Stewart passed Steve Vogel (1981-84) as Colorado’s all-time passing leader.

After spotting Oklahoma State, (3-5 overall, 0-4 in conference play), an early 7-0 lead, the Buffs scored the next 31 points in cruising to a much-needed win.

Stewart scored the Buffs’ first touchdown himself on a 17-yard run early in the second quarter, followed a few minutes later by a Mitch Berger 34-yard field goal. Then, with 13 seconds before halftime, the Colorado offense reminded the 30,200 in attendance in Stillwater which team on the field was nationally ranked. Stewart hit Charles E. Johnson from 26 yards out to extend the Buff lead to 17-7 at halftime.

The pass was noteworthy for several other reasons.

On the play, Kordell Stewart tied Vogel’s all-time passing mark of 3,912 yards. The catch was also another Charles E. Johnson special. Sandwiched between two Cowboy defenders, Johnson jumped between them, tipped the ball to himself, and came down with the ball and scooted into the endzone.

The second half was more of the same, as Stewart took the all-time Colorado passing lead and added to it as he connected for touchdowns with Johnson (54 yards) and Michael Westbrook (72 yards). With the lead up to 31-7, the Colorado defense finally relented, giving up a consolation score to the Cowboys late in the game, to make the final 31-14.

Both Charles E. Johnson and Michael Westbrook hauled in over 120 yards worth of passes, but the post-game discussion was all about Johnson. “I think Johnson should be first-team All-American”, gushed coach Bill McCartney. “He perhaps is the premier offensive player in our conference. I think there are a lot of things to back that up.”

As for the modest Johnson, who insisted, “I can always criticize myself about every play”, there was an admission that his effort against Oklahoma State, which included a reverse run for 19 yards and two punt returns for 40 yards, was “my most productive game that I’ve had all year – probably in my career.”

While the accolades for Johnson were nice, the win also helped solidify Colorado’s status as a bowl team. The victory gave Colorado a 5-3-1 record (3-1-1 in Big Eight play). Losses by No. 18 Kansas State (to Iowa State) and No. 22 North Carolina State (to Duke) that Saturday allowed the Buffs to move up to No. 21 in the polls the following day.

CJ for Player-of-the-Year

The Oklahoma State game was game nine of the 1993 season for Colorado. Two games – at home v. Kansas and on the road against Iowa State – remained to be played. In those games, Charles E. Johnson would go for ten catches, 193 yards, and another touchdown.

The effort against Oklahoma State, though, may have sealed the deal for Johnson. On November 30, 1993, Charles Johnson was named the 1993 Big Eight Offensive-Player-of-the-Year. In 1989, Darian Hagan became the first Buff to win the award, with Eric Bieniemy following suit in 1990. What made Johnson’s achievement especially noteworthy, though, was that Johnson was the first wide receiver in the history of the Big Eight to ever receive the award.

Johnson would also go on to also receive the prestigious ARETE award for courage in sports. The ARETE, which is an ancient Greek term for “the pinnacle of human performance in its purest form; the pursuit of excellence through perseverance, goodness, valor, mobility, and virtue”, was awarded in several categories, with CJ being chosen in the amateur athlete division. Johnson, who overcame a childhood of despair to achieve greatness on and off the field (in addition to his volunteer work, Johnson managed to graduate in three years of college), was an excellent choice for the award.


Game Notes –

– Charles E. Johnson (six catches, 121 yards, two touchdowns) and Michael Westbrook (six catches, 132 yards, one touchdown) went over the 100-yard mark together for the fourth time together – and just the seventh time overall in Colorado history.

– Charles E. Johnson would finish the 1993 season – and his career at Colorado – owning a number of Colorado receiving records:

– Consecutive games catching one pass – 27;

– Consecutive games catching two passes – 20;

– Receptions by a junior (57) and a senior (also 57);

– Yards gained – season (1,149, in 1992) and career (2,447);

– Yards gained per game season (104.5, in 1992) and career (69.9);

– Most 100-yard receiving games, season (six, in both 1992 and 1993) and career (12); and

– Most touchdown catches caught, season (9, in 1993) and career (15, tied with Westbrook).

– While the offense dominated against Oklahoma State, the defense played well also. Leading the way was linebacker Matt Russell. The redshirt freshman had 17 tackles; 13 solo – both team highs for the season. Russell would go on to finish second in the balloting for Big Eight Defensive Newcomer-of-the-Year, and was a second-team freshman All-American according to The Football News.

– Oklahoma State would not win another game the rest of the year, though the Cowboys did give Kansas State a scare (21-17) in the finale. Oklahoma State would finish 1993 with a 3-8 record (0-7 in the Big Eight).


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