November 14th – Boulder           Colorado 37, Iowa State 8

At least some things could be counted upon for the 1998 Buffs.

Nursing losing streaks against four of the five members of the Big 12 Northern division, Colorado could at least depend on Iowa State.

The Cyclones came to Boulder for the 1998 home finale winless in Big 12 action. The Buffs desperately needed a win to keep their bowl hopes alive, and Iowa State was the perfect opponent. Oft-injured senior tailback Marlon Barnes rushed for a career-high 237 yards and two touchdowns as Colorado rolled to a 37-8 win. The Colorado victory, marking the Buffs’ 15th consecutive win over Iowa State, was also the 600th in school history.

For only the second time in the 1998 season, the Buffs scored on the opening drive of the game. On the first offensive play, Marcus Stiggers went 52 yards on a reverse, the longest opening play of a game for Colorado since the 1989 season. Two Marlon Barnes runs netted 19 more yards, but then the drive stalled, and the Buffs had to settle for a 24-yard Jeremy Aldrich field goal and a 3-0 lead just 2:39 into the game.

The Buffs scored again on their second possession against hapless Cyclones. An 11-play, 74-yard drive was capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Marlon Barnes. Even though the extra point was missed, the tone for the day had been set.

Midway through the second quarter, quarterback Mike Moschetti hit Javon Green on a wide receiver screen. Green turned the short pass into a 61-yard touchdown and a 16-0 CU lead.

A few minutes later, Ben Kelly provided one of the most exciting plays of the 1998 season. The Colorado defense had stopped the Iowa State offense at the Cyclone 35-yard line. The Cyclone punt drove Kelly back to the Colorado 24, where Kelly immediately avoided one tackle, then cut to his right. After eluding two other potential tacklers, Kelly raced up field. With one man to beat, Kelly put on a spin move, then raced the remaining 50 yards untouched for a 64-yard touchdown.

Kelly’s score broke the game open, with the Buffs taking a 23-0 lead into halftime.

Iowa State did score in the last minute of the third quarter, with a two-point conversion making the score 23-8. Marlon Barnes then ended any hopes of an Iowa State comeback with the Buffs’ second 60-yard touchdown of the afternoon. Barnes went 64 yards up the middle, giving the Buffs a commanding 30-8 lead in the fourth quarter.

Barnes would have had a third touchdown a few minutes later, but he fumbled the ball at the Cyclone goal line. Fortunately for the Buffs, freshman tight end Miles Koon was in the right place at the right time, falling on the ball for a Colorado touchdown, and a 37-8 final score.

The easy victory, the most complete effort of the Buffs’ season since the Colorado State game in the 1998 opener, was especially sweet for Barnes. The senior running back, who was to have been the featured back for Colorado in 1998, Barnes had seen limited action during the year, carrying the ball only 57 times for 247 yards before nearly doubling his season total against the Cyclones.

“I’ve been banged up a whole lot,” said Barnes of his effort, the eighth-highest single game rushing effort in school history. “Just having the opportunity to get out there and play excited me a lot. I just wanted to get out there and play as hard as I could.”

In all, Colorado amassed a season-high 463 yards of total offense, while the defense held Iowa State to 182 total yards. The special teams also chipped in, with Ben Kelly a punt 76 yards for a score in the second quarter. With the effort, Kelly a sophomore defensive back, became the first Buff to return two punts for touchdowns in a season since 1990 (Dave McCloughan).

“Well, it was more of the kind of performance that we all know and love,” gushed head coach Rick Neuheisel. “We hung together, put together an effort that now gives us our seventh win, gives us a chance to go to the post-season and gives us a chance to keep climbing back to where we all would like to be.”

The 7-3 Buffs were now seemingly assured of a bowl bid, with the Holiday (with a win over Nebraska), Independence, Aloha, and Las Vegas bowls all possibilities.



600, 29, and 1.

Colorado’s win over Iowa State was the 600th in team history, giving CU an overall mark of 600-362-36 (a .619 winning percentage). As the 1998 season wore down, the Buffs were also closing in on another milestone. Game 999 in school history would take place against Nebraska, with game 1,000 coming in a hoped-for bowl game.

The numbers 29 and 1 belonged to Kansas State.

While CU was beating up on Iowa State, 9-0 Kansas State was playing the most important game in its school history. The second-ranked Wildcats (tied for No. 1 with Tennessee in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll) hosted the 8-2 and 11th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. Kansas State had not defeated Nebraska since 1968, a 29-game losing streak. The run of futility was the third worst in NCAA history, bettered (worsened?) only by a 34-game losing streak by Navy to Notre Dame (made 35 with a 30-0 loss to the Irish the same day as the Kansas State/Nebraska game) and a 32-game losing streak Kansas State endured against Oklahoma from 1937-1968.

The stars were aligned correctly for Kansas State in 1998, as the Wildcats scored on a defensive touchdown on the game’s final play against Nebraska to enhance a 40-30 final. With the ESPN Gameday crew on hand, the Wildcat faithful stormed the field and tore down the goalposts.

With Missouri having lost earlier that afternoon to Texas A&M, the Wildcats wrapped up the Big 12 Northern Division title. The championship was Kansas State’s first league title of any kind since 1934, when the Conference was known as the Big 6 (Colorado joined in 1948 to create the Big 7; Oklahoma State in 1958 to form the Big Eight).

The Wildcats now were poised, if they could win out against Missouri and Texas A&M (in the Big 12 Championship game), to have a chance at a national title.

Meanwhile Colorado, whose 600 all-time wins were well ahead of Kansas State’s 375 wins (in 963 games), was 7-3 overall, 4-3 in Big 12 conference play.  A date with 8-3 Nebraska did not have the meaning envisioned when the game was moved to Thanksgiving weekend, but it carried plenty of meaning for the participants.  The winner would finish tied for second (with Missouri) in the Big 12 Northern Division, and likely be invited to the Holiday Bowl.  The loser would finish fourth in the six team division, and would have to be satisfied with a minor bowl bid.

Nebraska, with three losses already on the ledger, was facing history. The Cornhuskers had not lost four games in a season since 1968.

But then again, Nebraska hadn’t lost to Kansas State since 1968 …


Game Notes

– The 64-yard touchdown run by Marlon Barnes, and the 61-yard touchdown reception by Javon Green proved to be the Buffs’ longest plays from scrimmage all season (with the 52-yard run by Marcus Stiggers to open the game being the longest non-scoring run of the year).

– Against Iowa State, the Buffs set season highs for rushing attempts (54), rushing yards (267) and total offense (463).

– The Colorado defense had a season-high three interceptions against Iowa State, with one apiece from Rashidi Barnes, Ben Kelly, and Damen Wheeler.

– While posting the 8th-most rushing yards in a game by a CU player, with 237 yards, Marlon Barnes also posted the second-most rushing attempts ever in a game, with 39 (one short of the 40 rushing attempts James Mayberry had against Kansas State in 1977).

– Red-shirt freshman cornerback Nate Wright, who had missed time earlier in the season with a broken hand, made his first career start against Iowa State.

– Iowa State would go on to defeat Kansas, 23-20, in the 1998 season finale breaking a seven game losing streak. The Cyclones finished the season 3-8, with a 9-35 record in four years under head coach Dan McCarney.


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