October 12th – at Kansas           Colorado 53, Kansas 29

Chris Brown rushed for a career-high 309 yards and scored two touchdowns in leading Colorado to a 53-29 win over Kansas in Lawrence.

In becoming only the third player in school history to post a 300-yard rushing game, Brown carried the ball 25 times for a healthy 12.4 yards per carry. Quarterback Robert Hodge continued his steady play as well, hitting on 12-of-19 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns.

Only the Buffs’ porous defense kept the game from becoming a total rout.

For the second consecutive week, the Buffs raced out to an early 14-0 lead. Hodge hit receiver D.J. Hackett with an eight-yard scoring pass on the Buffs’ opening drive. On the Buffs’ second possession, Brown broke free on a second-and-six play from the Colorado 22-yard line for a 78-yard touchdown. The rout was on against the 112th-ranked defense (out of 117 teams).

For the second consecutive week, however, the Buffs had an early 14-0 lead erased. After Jeremy Bloom muffed a punt, pinning the Buffs deep in their own end, Brown was tackled in the endzone for a safety. 14-2, Colorado.

By the first play of the second quarter, the score was 15-14, Kansas, as the Jayhawks put together two scoring drives to take the lead (a two-point conversion after the second score failed).

Kansas would hold the lead for only 45 seconds, however, with Brown scoring on a 51-yard run to put the Buffs ahead to stay, 21-15. Hodge then hit Derek McCoy from 15 yards out for a 29-15 lead (Hodge to junior receiver John Donahoe for a two-point conversion). With the Jayhawks driving late in the second quarter, defensive back Donald Strickland seemed to put the game away with a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The Jayhawks would not go away, though. A score just before half pulled Kansas to within two scores at 36-22.

A 43-yard field goal by Pat Brougham gave the Buffs a 39-22 cushion, but quarterback Bill Whittemore, who would rush for 121 yards and pass for 217 more on the day, ran the ball in from nine yards out to make the score 39-29.

That would be as close as the Jayhawks would come, as Derek McCoy scored his second touchdown of the game on an eight-yard reception, and fullback Brandon Drumm scored the first regular season touchdown of his career with a 21-yard run.

The final margin of 24 points belied how hard the Buffs had to work for the win. “Kansas played with great heart,” said Gary Barnett. “They fought and fought and fought, which is just what I told our kids. Give those guys credit, they made us play a whole game, and our guys didn’t necessarily think that would happen.”

The Jayhawks’ game effort, though, could not stop Chris Brown or the Colorado offense. In all, the Buffs had 546 yards of total offense, including 427 yards rushing. The offensive explosion distracted attention from the Buffs’ defensive effort. Kansas, with an offense ranked 102nd in the nation, racked up 450 yards of total offense against the Buffs. For the second week in a row, CU had squandered an early two-touchdown lead. Colorado’s special teams also had problems, some caused by the windy conditions in Lawrence, some by poor execution on the part of the Buffs.

Colorado would have one more opportunity to work out the kinks, with lightly regarded Baylor (3-3, 1-1 in Big 12 play) coming to Boulder. The Bears’ wins were over Division 1-AA Samford, winless Tulsa, and Kansas. If Colorado (4-2, 2-0, and back in the rankings at No. 23) was to play meaningful games in November, Baylor would have to be dispatched with a dominating performance.

Brown Sugar

Brown’s 309 rushing yards in a single game, third in school history only to Charlie Davis’ 342 vs. Oklahoma State in 1971 and Rashaan Salaam’s 317 vs. Texas in 1994, pushed Brown’s season total to 987 yards, just missing on becoming the second Buff to reach 1,000 yards in only six games (Salaam, 1994).

In the early going against Baylor, Brown would have the opportunity to reach 1,000 yards earlier than Salaam by measure of carries, if not games. Salaam took 149 carries to reach the 1,000-yard mark. Brown had taken 141 carries to reach 987.

With the career-best effort against Kansas, Brown also started to receive some national attention. Brown’s 164.5 yards/game average led the nation. Brown was named the Big 12 Conference offensive Player-of-the-Week for the second time (having received similar recognition for his 188-yard effort against UCLA). Brown also was now mentioned when All-Americans and even the Heisman Trophy candidates were discussed.

For his part, Brown remained humble, and credited his line and fullback, Brandon Drumm. “The line’s been great and Drumm’s incredible with his reads,” said Brown after the Kansas game. “When I’m in doubt, I just follow Drumm. He’ll get you to the right spot.” Brown was so into the game, he didn’t even know how many yards he had racked up. “I thought I was around 170 (yards) but I guess I was way off. Then someone informed me how many yards I had. I couldn’t believe it.”

Everyone around Chris Brown believed, though. Baylor was up next, and while the Bears’ rushing defense was considerably better than that of Kansas, it appeared that Brown and the Colorado offense would be looking for another record-setting day.

Colorado was installed as a 28-point favorite at home against Baylor. It was one last chance to put all of the pieces together before hitting the meat of the conference schedule.

This time, the Buffs would not disappoint.

Game Notes

– 53 points was the most ever scored by either team in the 62-game history of the rivalry. Colorado had twice previously scored 51 points (1994, 1999), while the Jayhawks’ best output to 2002 was 43 (1963).

– Donald Srickland’s 95-yard interception return only tied him for the sixth longest in Colorado history. Colorado had already posted three interception returns for scores of over 100 yards, the last being by Steve Rosga (v. OSU, 10/12/96).

– With his 309-yard effort v. Kansas, Brown also shot up the career rushing charts. With 1,933 yards, Brown had moved up 31 spots on the all-time list in just six games of the 2002 season, all the way to 17th.

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