September 18th – Boulder           Colorado 51, Kansas 17

Colorado continued to distance itself from the opening game debacle against Colorado State, raising its record to 2-1 (1-0 in Big 12 play) by dismantling Kansas, 51-17.

Scoring over 50 points in consecutive games for the first time since 1923, the Buffs scored on their opening drive and never looked back. By halftime, CU was up 30-3, cruising to the Buffs’ 16th straight Homecoming victory.

Mike Moschetti continued his exceptional play, completing 17 of 22 passes for 216 yards and two scores before leaving the game just before halftime with a sprained ligament in his left knee. “I’m not really sure what happened,” said Moschetti of the hit which sent him to the hospital for an MRI. “I just felt my knee give a little bit. Right now, it’s tough putting any weight on that leg.” Despite the injury, Moschetti was listed as “probable” for the upcoming Washington game.

A Cortlen Johnson one-yard touchdown run and a 49-yard field goal by Jeremy Aldrich staked the Buffs to a 10-0 first quarter lead. Moschetti’s two touchdown passes, a 21-yarder to Javon Green and a 16-yarder to Marcus Stiggers, staked Colorado to a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Two more long Aldrich field goals, of 42 and 48 yards, gave the Buffs a 30-3 halftime advantage.

In the second half, the Jayhawks tried to make a game of it with two third quarter touchdowns, cutting the Buffs’ advantage to 33-17. With momentum turning after the second Kansas score (the result of a blocked punt recovered in the endzone), Zac Colvin led the Buffs on a four-play, 69-yard drive, capped by a seven yard touchdown run by Cortlen Johnson.

Buff fans knew it was their day just a few minutes later. The Colorado defense recovered a Kansas fumble right after Johnson’s touchdown, quickly turning that into another Jeremy Aldrich field goal. The ensuing kickoff was returned 97 yards … but not for a touchdown, as defensive back Terrence Wood tracked down the Kansas kick returner. Two plays later, Ben Kelly returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown.

Ten plays from scrimmage after the blocked punt for a touchdown, Colorado had posted 18 points (Zac Colvin hit Javon Green for a two-point conversion after the Cortlen Johnson touchdown).

Joining Moschetti in the offensive spotlight in the 51-17 rout was senior kicker Jeremy Aldrich. Aldrich hit on all five of his field goal attempts, setting a school record for field goals in a game. With the five field goals, all of which were over 40 yards in length, Aldrich surpassed Tom Field as Colorado’s all-time field goal kicker. Aldrich now had 37 career field goals, besting the record of 36 set by Field (1979-83).

For the first time in the young season, the Colorado defense also came to play. Kansas was held to only 172 yards of total offense, with both touchdowns coming as a result of CU special teams miscues (fumbled punt by Ben Kelly leading to a short eight-yard touchdown drive, and a blocked punt recovered in the Colorado end zone).

“That was much more of a complete game than we have played so far,” said Gary Barnett. “I never really thought they could move the ball on our defense. It’s a very comfortable feeling, not the feeling I had the first two weeks.”

Colorado’s first payback game of 1999 was now in the books as impressive win. In 1998, Kansas had embarrassed the Buffs, 33-17. David Winbush had raced for 268 yards as the Jayhawks pushed Colorado out of the national rankings. In the rematch, Winbush was held to 12 yards on 11 carries, as the Buff defense held the Jayhawks to 26 total rushing yards.

The Kansas game not only gave the Buffs their first complete game of the season, it gave Colorado a leg up on the rest of the Northern Division of the Big 12.

Between the Buffs and the rest of the conference season, though, was a small matter of playing Washington on the road.

Against the Buffs’ former coach, Rick Neuheisel.

As if anyone could have forgotten.

A Sense of Optimism Returns

Only two weeks removed from the 41-14 humiliation at the hands of the Colorado State Rams, Colorado was again looking like a contender.

Against Kansas, the Buffs raced out to an early lead, just as they had against San Jose State. What was an improvement from the victory over the Spartans, though, was that the defense played the entire game. Two third quarter touchdowns allowed by the Colorado special teams gave Kansas faint hope of a comeback at 33-17, but the Buffs scored the last 18 points of the game, with the defense keeping Kansas out of Colorado territory for the rest of the contest.

Two players gave the Buffs and their fans reason to be optimistic about the future.

Redshirt freshman Zac Colvin replaced the injured Mike Moschetti at quarterback in the second half. After the Jayhawks pulled to within two scores, Colvin led the Buffs on a 69-yard drive for a game-clinching touchdown. Included in the drive was a 48-yard pass from Colvin to Marcus Stiggers. As a result, though Moschetti was expected to return to the starting role for the Washington game, Buff fans could breathe a little easier knowing that Colorado had a backup quarterback the team could depend on.

The second player of note came onto the field just after Colvin had led the Buffs to a 41-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. Kansas receiver Carl Nesmith took the ensuing Colorado kickoff at his goalline. 97 yards later, Nesmith was pulled down from behind by reserve sophomore defensive back Terrence Wood. Wood’s effort not only saved a touchdown, but allowed the Buffs to put the game away moments later. Instead a 41-24 game, Wood allowed the Buffs’ defense to take the field. Two plays later, Ben Kelly returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown.

48-17, Buffs. Game over.

Against the Jayhawks, a number of good things happened (as is usually the case with a 51-17 win). The Buffs played a complete game, the first of the season. The defense asserted itself. The Buffs were back to playing dominant football, as promised by their new head coach. Younger players were stepping up, providing confidence about the future.

Up next was Washington.

The Huskies were 0-2 on the young season under new head coach Rick Neuheisel. Washington had been defeated by BYU, 35-28, and by Air Force, 31-21. The Huskies had opportunities to win both games, but had faltered down the stretch. Not that Washington or Neuheisel would receive any sympathy from Colorado fans over their worst start since 1985. The Buffs had something to prove to their old coach, and to the nation. The game received a great deal of national attention, giving the Buffs a forum to re-claim a national ranking.

Would the Buffs take advantage?

Or would the same over confidence which had led to the CSU rout return?

Game Notes –

– Colorado posted 50+ points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1923 (51-0 v. Western State; 60-0 v. Northern Colorado)

– Jeremy Aldrich tied the school record with his five field goal attempts, but set a school record by making them all. The fact that all five attempts were from over 40 yards was just icing on the cake. For his efforts, Aldrich was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

– Aldrich finished the Kansas game with 37 made field goals, passing the record of 36 set by Tom Field (1979-83). Aldrich would go on to finish the 1999 season as the new career record holder at Colorado in both attempts (64) and makes (48). Aldrich would also finish his career with the most points ever by a kicker (231), passing the record of 190 set by Tom Field. Aldrich’s 231 points placed him second on the all-time Colorado scoring list, behind only running back Eric Bieniemy, who had 254 points scored in his career (1987-90).

– Ben Kelly’s 96-yard fumble return represented the longest “miscellaneous return” in school history. Kelly’s effort bested the record of 75 yards, set by both Steve Rosga (v. Wisconsin) and Donnell Leomiti (v. Iowa State) in 1995.

– Before leaving the game, Mike Moschetti set a school record with his 15th straight completion, dating back to the end of the San Jose State game (Koy Detmer had 14 straight completions v. Colorado State in 1996).

– Against Kansas, freshman kicker Katie Hnida, who would go on to become one of the most infamous characters in Colorado football history, became just the second woman to suit up for a Division 1-A game (she would go on to red-shirt).

– Kansas would go on to post a 5-7 record in 1999 under second-year head coach Terry Allen. The Jayhawks finished the season with a 3-5 record in Big 12 play, with wins over Missouri, Baylor, and Iowa State.

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