September 26th – Boulder          No. 15 Colorado 18, Baylor 16

The Baylor Bears, fresh off of a 33-30 win over North Carolina State (which in turn had just shocked the nation with a 24-7 win over previously 2nd-ranked Florida State) came to Boulder with aspirations of putting to rest the memories of a 2-9 1997 campaign.

Baylor almost came away with the win, scoring late to pull ahead of Colorado, 16-15, with 6:31 remaining. But a 44-yard pass on third-and-ten from Adam Bledsoe, subbing for the injured Mike Moschetti, to Darrin Chiaverini put the Buffs in field goal position with just over two minutes to play. A few plays later, Jeremy Aldrich connected from 31 yards out, and the Buffs had pulled out another “ugly” win, 18-16.

For much of the game, the contest appeared to be one which neither team wanted to win. The first quarter stats were enough to make even the most dedicated east coast football fan turn off the television and go to bed (the kickoff was 8:20 p.m., Mountain Time). The Buffs and the Bears combined effort for the first quarter – one yard of total offense.


Colorado was the “dominant” team, netting 11 yards of total offense, while Baylor was held to minus ten yards. In all, there were 31 offensive plays in the quarter, with 21 of those plays going for zero or negative yardage. The Buffs took a 5-0 lead after the first stanza, thanks to yet another snap over a punter’s head into the endzone (for the second weekend in a row), and a 43-yard field goal by Jeremy Aldrich (the Buffs’ “drive” leading up to the field goal: four plays, -1 yard).

Colorado’s offensive woes continued throughout the first half, with little spark seen until the third quarter. Senior tailback Marlon Barnes, seeing his first action of the season after sitting out for five weeks with a foot sprain, showing some signs of leading the Buffs’ rushing game (89th in the nation heading into the Baylor contest) out of its doldrums. But it was two runs by quarterback Mike Moschetti out of the option which finally gave the homecoming crowd of 46,603 something to cheer about. The first came with 8:21 remaining in the third on a 28-yard touchdown run after it appeared that yet another drive would be stalled by penalties. Moschetti’s effort put the Buffs on top 15-3.

The second run, just a few minutes later, went for 39 yards down to the Baylor 13. But the run proved costly. Moschetti turned an ankle trying to make a cut, and was lost for the game. The Buffs fumbled the ball away two plays later, and the rout was suddenly a ball game again.

Despite the turnover, the Buffs’ defense, putting in a second consecutive stellar effort, was holding the Baylor offense at bay.

Unfortunately, it was a lapse on special teams which gave the Bears the opportunity to get back into the contest. Punting the ball away with 13:35 to go in the game, Nick Pietsch had his second kick in three games blocked. Unlike the Fresno State game, when the ball was recovered in the field of play, this kick was recovered in the endzone by defensive back Nikia Codie, and suddenly it was 15-10, Colorado.

The blocked kick breathed new life into Baylor, and on its next possession the Bears marched down the field, covering 66 yards in 13 plays to take the lead, 16-15, with 6:51 left to play. Baylor, looking to go up by three points, attempted a two-point conversion, but quarterback Jermaine Alfred’s pass was hurried and overthrown, and the lead was but one point, 16-15, setting up the heroics of Bledsoe, Chiaverini, and Aldrich.

“It wasn’t pretty but it showed a lot of character and desire”, opined a tired Rick Neuheisel after the game. “The big picture of me is saying we’ve got a lot of problems and lots of holes and other things that need to be fixed. But emotionally, we showed a lot of courage. I was very proud of the way we dealt with adversity.”

True enough. The Buffs had fallen behind for the 17th consecutive game, but now had a 10-7 record in those contests.

Courage was admirable, but how long would the victories continue?

“We’re not a very good football team”

As much as I hate to admit it, these were the words which I heard coming out of my mouth as the victory against Baylor, seemingly well in hand in the third quarter, began to drift away in the fourth.

After sitting through three-and-a-half quarters of poor execution, untimely penalties, and a seeming lack of focus, I was sad to see these Buffs. They were not the team I had seen just three weeks earlier against Colorado State. When I had penciled in Baylor for one of my trips to Boulder for 1998, it was more a matter of putting some space in time between the CSU and the Kansas State trips than it was in anticipation of a last-minute, come-from-behind win. I came to have some fun at Homecoming, not to agonize over miscues and missed opportunities.

Two plays from the Baylor game stand out in my memory.

The first was Moschetti’s second long run of the night. CU was up 15-3, and Moschetti had broken into the clear going around right end. It appeared from our venue that Moschetti had a wide open field to the endzone. The only player with a chance to stop him was a cornerback, deep downfield. Unfortunately, Moschetti zigged when he should have zagged, with the result being a sprained ankle and a lost opportunity to put the game out of reach. Two plays later, Bledsoe fumbled, and Baylor was back in the game.

The second play I have etched in my mind came with 2:04 to play. Adam Bledsoe, who had just connected with Darrin Chiaverini to put the Buffs in field goal range, threw a post pattern to Javon Green in the endzone on third down. The pass was right in front of us, and appeared perfect. Green could not pull it down, however, and the Buffs and their fans had to sweat out Aldrich’s game-winning field goal attempt.

Two plays. Each could have made Colorado’s victory easier. Neither had the desired result.

The Buffs were winning ugly, but they were winning. Who could possibly complain about being 4-0 with a 5-6 season just months removed?

I could.

I wasn’t proud of my lack of enthusiasm. But I still had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that we were just pretenders, waiting for the right team to come along and expose us. Hopefully, the defense would continue to carry the team until the offense jelled. Hopefully, the team’s youth and inexperience would result in fewer and fewer mistakes as the season wore on.

Hopefully, the winning would continue while the Buffs found themselves.


Game Notes –

– Sophomore quarterback Adam Bledsoe, who had just 13 career pass attempts before the Baylor game, went 2-for-8 subbing for the injured Mike Moschetti. The two completions, though, went for 57 yards, and both netted first downs.

– The Colorado defense held an opponent under 200 yards of total offense for the second consecutive week (Utah State 141; Baylor 178), a feat not accomplished by the Buffs since 1977.

– Leading the defense were Hannibal Navies, who had 16 tackles, and Ty Gregorak, who had ten. Justin Bannan, in his first career start, led the defensive line with two sacks.

– Red-shirt freshman running back Cortlen Johnson earned his first career start against Baylor. Against the Bears, Johnson had six carries for 30 yards.

–  Baylor did not recover from its loss to Colorado, going on to win only one more game the remainder of the season. A second consecutive 2-9 season brought an end to the two-year Dave Roberts era in Waco, with Roberts replaced at year’s end by Kevin Steele.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *