September 11th – Boulder            Colorado 63, San Jose State 35

What a difference a week makes.

After coming perilously close to being shut out by Colorado State, the Buffs responded seven days later with a record-setting performance. Playing on a grass field at home for the first time since 1970, Colorado cruised to a 28-0 first quarter lead on the way to a 63-35 rout of San Jose State.

Quarterback Mike Moschetti, criticized for his mistakes against Colorado State, connected on 25-of-35 passes for a school-record 465 yards. Before connecting for two touchdown passes, Moschetti opened the scoring with a 12-yard run just over a minute into the game as Colorado took only four plays to travel 70 yards. The Buffs’ opening 63-second drive was just a sign of things to come, as Moschetti connected with tight end Daniel Graham a few minutes later from 23 yards out to put the Buffs up 14-0. Before the first quarter was over, two one-yard touchdown runs by Cortlen Johnson had Colorado ahead 28-0.

The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter, with the Buffs’ scores coming by way of a Damion Barton three-yard run and a 65-yard scoring strike from Moschetti to Marcus Stiggers. At the break, it was 42-15, Colorado.

In the second half, the Buffs were on cruise control. Dwayne Cherrington scored on a three-yard run as the Spartans kept pace with a 7-7 third quarter. In the final stanza, the teams combined for four more touchdowns. Cortlen Johnson picked up touchdown number three on an 11-yard run, with Barton picking up touchdown number two on a 15-yard run before the Spartans collected two consolation scores in the final six minutes.

“This was just a wonderful job of play-calling,” said Gary Barnett, posting his first win as head coach of Colorado, “But surgery might be a better word to use by (offensive coordinator) Tom Cable and our offensive coaches.”

As the final score reflected, Moschetti was not alone in lighting up the scoreboard. Cortlen Johnson rushed for a career-high 104 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Marcus Stiggers made the best of his five catches, totaling 174 yards. Stiggers had two catches covering over 60 yards, including the 65-yarder for a touchdown, becoming the first CU receiver to collect two passes for over 60 yards in a single game.

Marcus Stiggers, whose 174 yards receiving was the fifth-highest one game total ever, was confident that the Buffs who had dismantled San Jose State were the real Buffs. “This sends a message to our teammates about working hard and working together,” said Stiggers, who had more to celebrate than just a Buff rout. Stiggers was a newlywed, having just taken the plunge the week of the game with the Spartans.

While enjoying the easy win over San Jose State, the dominance over the Spartans also gave rise to new questions about the Buffs:  Which team would appear in the next game against Kansas? Would the Buffs rise to the occasion, or fall flat? And what of the dominant defense? Granted, CU had played looser with a huge lead, but giving up 35 points and 507 yards of total offense to San Jose after surrendering 41 points to Colorado State in the opener was disconcerting.

The Buffs’ next opponent, Kansas, was coming off a rout of its own, destroying Division 1-AA Cal State Northridge, 71-14. The Jayhawks were 1-1 on the season, having fallen to Notre Dame 48-13 in their opener.

And Kansas still had David Winbush, who had torched the Buffs for a record 268 yards in 1998 (a record which would stand until 2012).

Grass is Always Greener ….

Only 41,716 attended the Buffs’ home opener on a beautiful September afternoon. Those who were in attendance witnessed the first home game played on a grass field since 1970. Sportgrass, similar to the system used at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, came with a price tag of $1.2 million. Also new for the 1999 season were video boards installed at both ends of the stadium.

The Buffs initiated the grass field in fine fashion, setting several school records. The 767 yards of total offense bettered the 758 yards gained in a 66-14 rout of Northeast Louisiana in 1995. The 293 yards rushing was the best since the Buffs put up 326 yards against Iowa State, also in 1995.

While the grass at Folsom Field was 1-0, the Buffs could not avoid the reality that they were 1-1.

With Kansas, Washington, and Missouri up next, the Buffs had three games which they could easily win. They were also games which they could easily lose. Colorado had responded to the adversity of the CSU debacle by racing out to a quick 28-0 first quarter lead against outmanned San Jose State. The Colorado team which dominated in game two was quite different from the one which had been dominated by Colorado State in the season opener.

Fans would have to wait and see which team would show up to play against Kansas.

Game Notes –

To chronicle some of the records set in the San Jose State game:

– Most total offense, 767 yards (old record: 758 v. Northeast Louisiana in 1995);

– Most passing yards, 465 by Mike Moschetti (old record: 457 by Koy Detmer v. Missouri, 1996);

– Highest passing efficiency rating (min. 30 attempts), 220.8 by Mike Moschetti (old record: 208.6 by Koy Detmer v. Oklahoma State, 1996);

– Highest completion percentage (min. 20, 25, and 30 attempts), .781 (25-of-32) by Mike Moschetti (old records: min 20 attempts – .762, Kordell Stewart v. Baylor, 1992, min. 25 and 30 attempts – .738, Koy Detmer v. Colorado State in 1996);

– Most passing yards per attempt (min. 20 attempts), 14.53, by Mike Moschetti

– Most passing yards per completion (min. 20 attempts), 18.60, by Mike Moschetti (old record: 15.00 by Randy Essington v. Texas Tech, 1991)

– Most total offensive plays, 60, by Mike Moschetti (old record: 59, by Koy Detmer v. Oklahoma, 1992)

– Most yards of total offense, 500, by Mike Moschetti (old record: 457, by Koy Detmer v. Missouri, 1996)

– For all of the above, Moschetti was named the Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Week

– Colorado and San Jose State combined for 1,274  yards of total offense (CU 767, SJS 507).  This total erased one of the more infamous records in school history.  In the 82-42 rout of 1980, Oklahoma and Colorado combined for 1,205 yards of offense (OU 875, CU 330)

– Marcus Stiggers had a career-best 174 yards on only five receptions. The 174 yards marked the fifth-best receiving day in CU history.

– Cortlen Johnson posted 104 yards rushing (on 14 carries), with Johnson and Stiggers combining to mark just the 18th time in school history that CU had a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game.

– Colorado had 443 yards of total offense by halftime … a number reached only once during the 12-game 1998 campaign.

– The game marked the starting debuts for two defensive backs, Robbie Robinson and Donald Strickland.

– San Jose State, after opening with losses to LSU and Colorado, would go on to win their next three games, including a 44-39 upset win over Stanford. That was the end of the good news for the Spartans, however, as San Jose State would then lose its remaining five games to finish with a 3-7 record (not sure why the Spartans only played ten games in 1999, but such was the case).

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