November 19th – Boulder                       No. 7 Colorado 41, Iowa State 20

A game between a 9-1 team and an 0-9-1 to finish off the regular season would normally not bear much attention.  The 41-20 final score, after the Buffs nursed a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter, would not have merited much notice nationally.

For local writers, though, the game could presented a year’s worth of headlines:

“Christian Fauria snares six catches; becomes Big Eight all-time tight end reception leader” would have been apropos;

“CU posts 576 yards of offense, sets team record for season average – 495.3″ would have been good; or

“Kordell Stewart becomes Big Eight all-time leader for total offense”.

All worthy events, but they were all  overshadowed.  First by Rashaan Salaam, then by the team’s thirteen-year head coach.

Salaam was effective against Iowa State, rushing for almost 200 yards and a touchdown in the game’s first three quarters.  The Buffs, though, could not put away the winless Cyclones, leading only 20-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Salaam was still 13 yards shy of the 2000-yard mark as the Buffs, leading 27-13 after a 23-yard run by Kordell Stewart to open the quarter, faced a first-and-ten at the CU 33-yard line.  Salaam took the handoff from Stewart, cut to his right, and raced down the sideline in front of his teammates for a 67-yard touchdown and front-runner status for the Heisman.  Salaam’s run gave him 2,055 yards on the season, and also gave him the titles of the nation’s leading rusher, scorer, and all-purpose runner.

Salaam’s final run of the day also gave Colorado its first real comfortable lead of the day, at 34-13.

The remainder of the game was a celebration.  The 10-1 Buffs were heading for the Fiesta Bowl and a yet-to-be-named opponent.  Salaam was given a ride off of the field by his teammates, as 46,113 frigid fans (37 degrees at kickoff) kept themselves warm by cheering the third 10-win team in school history.  All in all, a successful game and season.  Fans piled out of the stadium and into the late-afternoon sunshine, cold but content with the day.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Highlight of Salaam’s run which put him over 2000 yards for the season:


Back from the store

In Bozeman, I received updates from ABC and ESPN throughout the afternoon on the win over Iowa State. Frustration with the Buffs inability to put away ISU was quickly forgotten when the highlight of Salaam’s touchdown run flashed across the screen. The play made for perfect theater. Salaam reached the 2,000 mark in just the right fashion – at home, running right in front of the CU bench, on a long touchdown run to clinch the win. If Salaam had not already clinched the Heisman, that highlight alone may have sealed the deal. It would be replayed numerous times in subsequent weeks as college football analysts debated the issue.

Content with the afternoon’s events, I went to the store with my wife, Lee. Some time later, we returned to find the answering machine blinking. It was Charlie B. in Tennessee. “What is McCartney thinking?”, Charlie asked me by way of tape. “What is going on?”

Not understanding the message, and assuming Charlie was merely upset about McCartney’s play-calling on the day, I returned the call. It was then that I learned the reason for Charlie’s consternation. I quickly clicked on the television, turned to ESPN, and quickly had confirmed for me what Charlie was telling me.

Colorado head football coach Bill McCartney was resigning. (more under “McCartney’s Announcement”) …

Game Notes –

– The win over Iowa State was the 11th in a row for Colorado in the series, but was still one short of the series record (the Buffs won 12 straight from1966 and 1977).

– Kordell Stewart went 14-for-21 for 196 yards passing on the afternoon, putting him over 2,000 for the season. As a result, Colorado, in the 125-year history of college football, became just the second team to ever have a 2,000-yard rusher and a 2,000-yard passer in the same season, with Salaam’s 2,055 yards rushing complemented by Stewart’s 2,071 yards passing (in 1988, Barry Sanders ran for 2,628 yards and Mike Gundy passed for 2,163 yards for Oklahoma State).

– While Colorado was posting 576 yards of total offense against Iowa State, giving the Buffs a school-record average of 495.3 yards per game, the defense held the Cyclones to a season-low 243 yards.

– Iowa State finished the 1994 season with an 0-10-1 record, with only a 31-31 tie to show for Jim Walden’s final campaign in Ames. Walden coached at Iowa State for eight seasons, compiling an overall record of 28-57-3, with his best season being a 6-5 campaign in 1989. Walden was replaced by Dan McCarney, who would go on to become the all-time winningest coach in ISU history.

1994 Honorees

– All Americans … First team … Rashaan Salaam (unanimous); Chris Hudson (consensus) … Tony Berti (College Sports Magazine); Michael Westbrook (AFCA; Walter Camp)

– All Big Eight (First team) … OT Tony Berti; DT Shannon Clavelle; TE Christian Fauria; CB Chris Hudson; LB Ted Johnson; TB Rashaan Salaam; QB Kordell Stewart; OC Bryan Stoltenberg; WR Michael Westbrook

– Heisman trophy: Rashaan Salaam (winner) (Kordell Stewart finished 13th in the balloting)

– Jim Thorpe Award: Chris Hudson (winner)

– Doak Walker Award: Rashaan Salaam (winner)

– Maxwell Award: Rashaan Salaam (runner-up)

– Dick Butkus Award: Ted Johnson (runner-up)

– Davey O’Brien Award: Kordell Stewart (one of ten finalists)

– Fred Biletnikoff Award: Michael Westbrook (one of ten semi-finalists)

– Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award: Kordell Stewart (one of six finalists)

4 Replies to “Iowa State – Salaam’s 2,055 overshadowed by Coach Mac”

  1. Hard to believe these days, but landing Buffs tickets was no mean feat back in 1994. My family couldn’t really afford season tickets, but my dad would take my little brother and me up to campus before every home game game to soak up the “atmosphere” and maybe get lucky with a set of 3 seats on the cheap. A cold November day against lowly ISU was just the ticket to get some affordable, ahem, tickets.

    Man was that a cold day. No amount of hot cocoa could keep my jeans from freezing to the bleachers. My brother clutched his “2,000” paper poster, waving it both for enthusiasm and to keep warm. As a 12-year-old most of the game was a blur, but that last 67-yard Salaam run is tattooed on my mind. The stadium roared from the knowledge Rashaan had surely landed CU’s first Heisman. What a great game.

    Then we got home and heard the news about Coach Mac. I never really questioned his decision, just his timing. Always thought it was grossly unfair that he couldn’t wait a week or even a few days so Salaam could have that monumental day all to himself.

  2. The 1994 game versus Iowa State was by far one of the most memorable Buff games I’ve ever attended (and I saw both Orange Bowls, Nebraska ’89 and ’90, etc). And yet, for all that, I can only remember one play!

    With all of the talent on the Buffs that year (and the lack of talent on Iowa State), the outcome of the game wasn’t in question, or even interesting. We were there for one reason and one reason only: To see Rashaan get his 2000 yards.

    You didn’t need KOA to follow Salaam’s progress; the P.A. announcer was keeping us abreast the entire day: “Rashaan needs 98 more yards! Rashaan needs 36 more yards!”

    Finally, we got to a point in the game where we knew that one play was all that was needed. “Rashaan needs 13 yards!” The entire stadium tensed. I started to feel bad for the Iowa State defense.

    Kordell took the snap and tossed it back to Rashaan. OH MY! The right side was WIDE OPEN…he’s going to get 13 yards for sure!!!! Everyone was on their feet…and then it dawned on all of us: HE’S GOING TO GET A LOT MORE THAN 13 YARDS!!!!

    I can’t even begin to describe what happened next…one Cyclone hit him, and he kept running. TWO Cyclones….was it three? It seemed like all 11 defensive players for Iowa State were on top of Salaam, but he WOULD NOT BE DENIED. The legs kept churning, churning, churning….until everyone toppled into the end zone. 13 yards? Hell no, let’s score a touchdown! It was pure pandemonium and at that moment in time, there was literally no place in the world that I would rather be.

    At that time I lived right at 28th and Colorado, so it only took about ten minutes to walk from our seats to our house. My friends and I were just buzzing about what we had just seen….and then my roommate asked: “What’s the deal with McCartney? Is he quitting?” And suddenly the day changed, quite dramatically……….

  3. My brother and sister-in-law have great seats in section 118 and at this point they were in the first row behind the CU bench about the 40-yard-line, (North side of the fifty). Before the game, a bunch of us were inside the stadium early, “watching the punters and kickers” and other warm-ups. There was a small group of young guys with Salaam jerseys on hanging out on the sideline. We asked them if they were family and they said they were “cousins, by blood” and laughed. They were present on the sideline throughout the game. I always listen to Larry Zimmer and the KOA broadcast so I was keeping a running tab on Salaam’s pursuit of 2,000 yards. Most everyone in the stadium knew he was getting close and our section knew it was exactly 13 yards early in the fourth quarter when he broke that beautiful 67-yard run down right side. I jumped out of my seat and ran down the concourse, bumping into many people along the way, barely able to see Salaam through the slate of player bodies on the sidelines. I never actually saw him cross the goal line but I knew he was gone before he reached our sightline and the crowd let me know when he scored. As I made it down near the endzone, Rashan’s “cousins by blood” (never found out who they really were and if they were even supposed to be there) were jumping up and down with him and his teammates. Outside of some “Heisman!” chants, the rest of the game is a blur, until, walking out to the field to post-game tailgate I heard Zimmer’s stunned announcement that Coach Mac was stepping down. I was one of the last people out to our car and I ran over screaming to everyone to turn on the radio. It was a sudden and drastic change of atmosphere from the total elation of the win, Salaam’s record and impending Heisman, to the astonished silence that followed.

  4. I was playing the bass drum in The Golden Buffalo Marching Band when our seats were still on the 50 yard line behind the team – yeah, pretty sweet. I was nursing a pretty good hangover – those days, that was a good bet. It was a frigid day and only about 45,000 or so fans decided to show up to watch the #3 team in the country and a Heisman hopeful – I remember being bummed about both.

    Honestly, I only remember the one play vividly – Salaam’s rush to over 2,000 down the East sideline. It was like in slow motion as he ran around the right end. I lost sight of him at about the 15 yard line, but new he had made a touchdown and broke the record by the reaction of the team and crowd. Watching the team go nuts right in from of me was incredible. I also remember the refs throwing a flag for excessive celebration (or whatever it was called back then). After that, hangover gone and a night on the town to celebrate a great win, Salaam breaking the record, and knowing I was going to travel with the band for the bowl game. We also drank to forget that Mac had resigned. A very memorable day…

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