October 19th – at Kansas           No. 9 Colorado 20, Kansas 7

The Kansas Jayhawks in 1995 had come to Boulder with a 4-0 record in search of respect.

The Jayhawks left Boulder with much, much, more. In addition to respect, Kansas came away with a stunning 40-24 win over the Buffs.

In 1995, both Colorado and Kansas went on to post 10-2 records and top ten final rankings.

In 1996, however, the two teams were heading in different directions.

Memories of the 1995 loss to the Jayhawks had to be in the Buffs’ minds as they prepared for the 1996 game in Lawrence. Fortunately for Colorado and its fans, though, Kansas was not the team it was in 1995. Kansas in 1996 was 3-2, with even that record coming against a fairly light schedule. Still, if Colorado was to be a player in the national championship race, the No. 9 Buffaloes could not look past the Jayhawks.

And they didn’t.

Establishing a new team-record with a ninth consecutive win on the road (the 1922-24 Buffs had won eight straight on the road), Colorado methodically dispatched the Jayhawks, 20-7.

On the game’s opening possession, Colorado put together a 14-play, 76-yard drive. Colorado quarterback Koy Detmer went four-for-four on third down passes on the drive, which was capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Detmer to junior tight end Desmond Dennis.

The remainder of the half was left to the Buff defense.

On three consecutive drives to close out the first half, Kansas started drives on the Colorado 31, 20, and 34, but came away with no points, as the CU defense forced a missed field goal, a fumble, and a punt. A 20-yard field goal by Jason Lesley with one second remaining gave the Buffs a 10-0 halftime advantage.

Colorado put the game out of reach with its first drive of the second half, culminating in a 21-yard scoring connection between Detmer and senior wide receiver Rae Carruth, putting the Buffs up 17-0. For the day, Carruth would post his second consecutive 100-yard receiving effort, collecting 106 yards on six catches (Carruth also contributed 29 yards on a reverse to convert a fourth down attempt).

On a windy homecoming afternoon in Lawrence, Kansas, the Buffs did not dominate the Jayhawks, but they did come away with victory. The offense did just enough to win, while the Colorado defense was suffocating. The defense limited the Kansas offense to 190 total yards, surrendering only one touchdown, which only came after the Buffs had forged a 17-0 lead.

For the Buffs’ 1996 squad, the season began with a motto of Mission: Possible. With the 1996 season now at its mid-way point, the motto had seemingly been modified to: Just Win, Baby.

Coach Neuheisel concurred: “The expectation is such that we’re supposed to roll over these teams, but the blowouts that you’re used to seeing … I think are a thing of the past. There are too many good teams, and it’s just too hard week-in and week-out to dominate opponents.”

The 13-point win, combined with No. 8 Notre Dame’s surprise overtime loss to Air Force, moved the Buffs to up to No. 8 in the polls. The dream of a National Championship for the 5-1 Buffs (3-0 in Big 12 play) remained remote, but was still a possibility.

Game Notes –

– Koy Detmer passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns. In so doing, Detmer moved into second place on the all-time career passing yards list (4,031), surpassing Steve Vogel (3,912; 1982-84). In becoming only the second Buff to pass for over 4,000 yards, Detmer finished the game trailing only Kordell Stewart (6,481; 1991-94) on the all-time list.

– Safety Ryan Black, who would go on to earn second-team All-Big 12 honors at the end of the season, led the Buffs against Kansas with 14 tackles. Black had two third down stops and two fourth down stops against the Jayhawks.

– The three-yard touchdown reception for junior tight end Desmond Dennis was the first of his career. Dennis finished the 1996 season with only one other catch, an 18-yarder against Oklahoma State.

– The Kansas game was played in constant gusty winds, sometimes approaching 30 mph. Colorado punter Nick Pietsch, who averaged 39.8 yards on five punts on the day, had one punt go for a season-long 76 yards. The wind-aided effort was the third-longest in CU history, and the longest-ever outside the state of Colorado.

– The victory was the seventh consecutive win for the Buffs in Lawrence, and gave Colorado a 15-11-3 edge over the Jayhawks in their home stadium.

– The 1922-24 Buffs, who won eight straight games on the road, never had to travel very far to obtain their wins. Amongst the eight victories were two games against Colorado Mines, two games against Wyoming, and one game each at Denver, Colorado State, and Colorado College. The only road game of any distance was a 17-7 victory over Utah in Salt Lake City in 1923.

– Kansas would not get back on track after the loss to Colorado, winning only one more game the remainder of the season, finishing with a 4-7 overall record (2-6 in the Big 12).



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