November 11th – Boulder           Iowa State 35, Colorado 27

“Of all of our losses, this was the hardest one for me to deal with,” said Colorado coach Gary Barnett in the aftermath of his team’s 35-27 loss to Iowa State. “That game was there for us to win, and we just didn’t pay enough attention to details to win it.”

In the home finale for the Buffs’ seven seniors, Colorado blew a 20-9 lead by way of four turnovers.

Iowa State, 7-3 and bowl bound for the first time since 1978, took advantage of Colorado miscues in posting its first win against Colorado since 1983. The first three turnovers led to two Cyclone touchdowns and a field goal, while the fourth turnover, a fumble by Buff fullback Scott Nemeth on a fourth-and-one at the Iowa State 10-yard line with 1:49 left in the game, sealed Colorado’s seventh loss of the season.

The loss overshadowed impressive numbers put up by several members of the Colorado offense. Freshman quarterback Craig Ochs completed 25-of-34 passes for 307 yards, while running back Cortlen Johnson scored three times. Senior receiver Javon Green, playing in his last game at Folsom Field, tied a career high with nine catches for a career high 167 yards. “I wanted to go out with a good performance,” said Green, “but I wanted to go out with a win.”

A win seemed likely as Colorado raced out to a 13-3 first quarter lead. After spotting Iowa State a field goal on its first possession of the game, the Buffs countered with two seven yard touchdown runs by Cortlen Johnson (and one missed extra point on a muffed snap, keeping the Buffs from taking a 14-3 lead). The first Johnson touchdown came after an ISU fumble, the second being aided by a 68-yard pass completion from Ochs to Javon Green, taking the Buffs down to the Cyclone seven.

Iowa State scored early in the second quarter, but, like Colorado, failed on the extra point due to a muffed snap, making it a 13-9 game. The Buffs responded with an eight-play, 74-yard drive, capped by a 16-yard Cortlen Johnson run, to take a 20-9 lead midway through the second quarter.

The lead was 20-12 at halftime before the turnovers started. On the first possession of the second half, CU receiver Eric McCready fumbled at the ISU 47-yard line. Eight plays later, the Cyclones had pulled to within two points at 20-18 (the two point conversion attempt failed). After forcing a punt, Iowa State quarterback Sage Rosenfels connected with J.J. Moses from 44 yards out to give the Cyclones a 26-20 lead. On the next play from scrimmage, Ochs was intercepted by strong safety Doug Densmore, who returned the ball to the Buff 13 yard line. A few plays later, the Cyclones had a 32-20 lead … a 20-point flurry in five minutes of game time.

The Buffs were done yet, though.

A 63-yard drive by the Buffs culminated in an Ochs-to-McCready five-yard touchdown pass to bring Colorado to within 32-27 late in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Buffs, the Iowa State 10-yard line was as close to scoring as the Buffs would come again, with the last hopes of forcing overtime left on the snowy Folsom Field turf with the Nemeth fumble.

Final score: Iowa State 35, Colorado 27.

The 3-7 Buffs had posted a 1-4 home record, the worst since going 1-5 at home in 1984. All that was left for Colorado was an ominous trip to Lincoln to face the Cornhuskers. If there was any good news about the trip, it was that as the Buffs were falling to the Cyclones, Nebraska was being handed its second defeat of the season, a 29-28 setback in Manhattan against Kansas State. The Wildcats’ win put Kansas State in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma, while Nebraska, now 8-2 and out of the race for the national title, could not even salvage its season with a Big 12 championship.

Two teams with little to play for. The Cornhuskers would need a win over Colorado or its bowl opponent to perpetuate its NCAA record of consecutive season with at least nine wins (31 heading into the 2000 season), but that was small consolation to a team which had been ranked No. 1 in the nation most of the season.

What did CU have to play for?

Another one bites the dust

In the 587 page Official 2000 NCAA records book, it took up only one line.

Yet it was a line I sought out with each new season’s edition. The entry came under the heading: “Most Consecutive Current Wins over a Major Opponent in a Series (Must have played every year)”.

There it was, on page 89: “16-Colorado over Iowa State., 1984-99 (42-11-1 in rivalry)”. Tied with Virginia’s run over Wake Forest and behind only Notre Dame over Navy (36 consecutive wins) and Nebraska over Kansas (31), the string of victories by Colorado over Iowa State was not only high on the current list, but was also now tied for the 17th longest streak in NCAA history.

After the 35-27 loss to the Cyclones, though, that streak was over.

Along with so many lasting comparisons from the past decade, this positive statistic was now a relic.

Comparisons between the 2000 team and past teams were not now being made with the teams of the 1990’s, but with the 1984 1-10 team. Even that team had defeated Iowa State, though. Granted, it took a missed 32-yard field goal by Cyclone kicker Marc Bachrodt with 2:17 remaining to preserve a 23-21 win, but a win was a win.

And wins were coming fewer and farther between as the 2000 season wound down.

Now, only two positive streaks of note remained. One was the string of 12 consecutive seasons in which Colorado had defeated a ranked team. 0-4 against ranked teams in 2000, the Buffs had one last chance against Nebraska. The other streak was the school record of consecutive games without being shutout, now at 144, dating back to a 7-0 loss to Nebraska in 1988.

Neither of those streaks would be on the minds of the Colorado players as they packed for the finale in Lincoln.

The Buffs just needed a win.


Game Notes –

– As noted, the win by Iowa State broke a 16-game winning streak for Colorado in the series. The road win actually gave the Cyclones a better overall record in games played against Colorado in Boulder (6-20-1) than home games played in Ames (6-22).

– Javon Green’s nine catches for 167 yards was the most yardage for any Colorado receiver in the 2000 season. The only other Buffs with 100-yard games in the 2000 season were John Minardi (153 yards v. Oklahoma State) and Daniel Graham (100 yards v. Kansas State).

– Red-shirt freshman tight end Quinn Sypniewski played in all 11 games in 2000, but had his first career start against Iowa State.

– Iowa State left Boulder with a 7-3 overall record. After a 38-17 win over Kansas in the regular season finale, the Cyclones were invited to play in the bowl, the first bowl game for the program since the 1978 season. A 37-29 win over Pittsburgh gave Iowa State its first-ever victory in a bowl game (1-4).

– More Iowa State firsts … The winning season in 2000 was the first winning campaign for the Cyclones in over a decade (1989 – 6-5), and were the most wins posted by the Cyclones since Iowa State went 9-1 … in 1906.



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