October 19th – Boulder           No. 23 Colorado 34, Baylor 0

For a third straight game, Colorado opened the game against a Big 12 conference rival with a quick 14-0 lead. Unlike the Kansas State and Kansas games of the previous two weeks, however, this time the Buffs did not let up, cruising to a 34-0 win over Baylor.

Chris Brown rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns as the Buffs raced out to a 34-0 halftime lead before letting backups play much of the scoreless second half.

Brown scored on the third play of the game on a 55-yard run. Shortly thereafter, Brandon Drumm capped an eight-play, 61-yard drive from a yard out, and the Buffs were up 14-0. Rather than allow a comeback (Kansas State had tied the Buffs 14-all two weeks earlier, and Kansas had briefly taken a 15-14 lead a week before), the Buffs poured in on against hapless Baylor.

Set up by an interception by Roderick Sneed, the Buffs scored on a four-yard Chris Brown run on the first play of the second quarter. The extra point attempt by Pat Brougham was missed, but the Buffs were up comfortably, 20-0.

Just over two minutes later, quarterback Robert Hodge scrambled in from 34 yards out for his first rushing touchdown of the year. Already up 27-0 in the second quarter, the Buffs were not done. After strong safety Clyde Surrell stripped the ball from Baylor quarterback Aaron Karas and Sneed recovered on the Baylor 48, Chris Brown scored his third touchdown to cap an eight-play, 52-yard drive and give Colorado an insurmountable 34-0 lead.

Brown’s 167 yards on the day, as impressive as they were, were becoming “routine”. The story of the Baylor game, for a change, was the defense, with the Buffs shutting out an opponent for the first time since a 37-0 victory over the same Baylor squad in 1999.

Gary Barnett, who had spoken highly all week about the quality team the Bears were bringing to Boulder, was proud of the defensive effort. “Obviously, we didn’t shut down a great offense,” conceded Barnett, “but it’s still hard to get a shutout, no matter who you’re playing.”

Defensive coordinator Vince Okruch had challenged his squad after the Kansas game. “I really think the biggest difference was it was a different attitude,” said Okruch. “As a defense, I believe we were embarrassed by our performance in Lawrence and made a vow not to be embarrassed again.” Safety Roderick Sneed, who had an interception and a fumble recovery, was more succinct: “We got the shutout and we did play a pretty damn good defensive game.”

The Buffs, now 5-2 and 3-0 in Big 12 conference play with the win, found themselves alone atop the Big 12 North division after No. 9 Iowa State fell to No. 2 Oklahoma.

Up next for the Buffs was Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were 5-3, 2-1 after a 52-38 romp over Missouri. Quarterback Kliff Kingsbury passed for over 500 yards and five touchdown against Missouri, the same Tiger team which had held Nebraska to two offensive touchdowns in Lincoln the week before.

The Colorado defense had looked good against Baylor, and the shutout was a much needed boost of confidence. Now it was up to Gary Barnett and Vince Okruch to inspire a similar performance against the wide-open offense of the Red Raiders.

The South Shall Rise Again

Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t a reversal at Appomattox, and Sherman was not held at bay on the outskirts of Atlanta, but in the Big 12 Conference, the third full weekend of conference play saw the Southern division rise up and take a bite out of the Northern division. A quirk in the schedule pitted all six Northern division teams against the six teams from the South, with the South taking five of the six games.

The most impressive win came from 2nd-ranked Oklahoma over 9th-ranked Iowa State. The Cyclones Seneca Wallace, the hero of the Nebraska upset, was being touted as the Heisman Trophy’s leading candidate after leading ISU into the top ten for the first time in school history. The stay would not be a long one, however, as the Sooners laid a 49-3 shellacking on the Cyclones. In the only other game between ranked opponents, No. 8 Texas defeated No. 17 Kansas State, 17-14, to atone for a 35-24 loss to Oklahoma the week before.

The upset of the day came when 2-4 Oklahoma State knocked off Nebraska, 24-21. The OSU win over Nebraska was the first for the Cowboys since 1961. It also marked the first time since 1961 that the Cornhuskers had lost three games before the end of October (1961 also represented Nebraska’s last losing season, but the Cornhuskers still had a 5-3 record for 2002). In the remaining games between the North and the South, Texas Tech put it to Missouri, 52-38, while Texas A&M routed Kansas, 47-22.

For Colorado, forgetting for the moment that the Buffs’ next two opponents came from the Southern division, the day could not have gone any better. Now 3-0 in conference play after the Baylor win, Colorado was the lone undefeated (in conference play) Northern division squad. With a win over Texas Tech and a loss by Iowa State to Texas in Austin the following week, the Buffs would have a two game lead in the division. Even with seemingly invincible Oklahoma looming in the Buffs’ future, the chances of repeating as Big 12 Northern division champions took great strides on October 19th.

Not bad for a team which started the year 1-2. Still, the offense had to continue to produce, special teams play needed to improve, and the defense needed to build on its impressive play against Baylor before the Buffs could start discussing championships.

Game Notes

– A total of ten Buffs caught passes vs. Baylor, the most since ten Buffs had catches v. San Jose State (9/8/01).

– Only one of CU’s five touchdown drives v. Baylor (the last) consumed over two minutes of clock.

– The shutout was the second in as many tries against Baylor, but only the second for the Colorado defense since 1996 (a 12-0 win over Kansas State – 11/16/96).

– The Baylor Bears’ total yards, 251, would be the best effort of the season for the Colorado defense, and the best since allowing 196 to Kansas State the previous season (a 16-6 win – 10/6/01).


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