October 30th – Boulder          No. 8 Texas 31, Colorado 7

Texas quarterback Vince Young was able to put two early interceptions behind him before guiding the Longhorns to a 31-7 romp over Colorado.  Running back Cedric Benson rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, leading the 8th-ranked Longhorns to a 7-1 record.  The Buffs, in losing their eighth straight game to a Big 12 South Division team, managed only three yards rushing on the day, the fewest since Alabama held Colorado to minus-11 in the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl.

The day did start out with promise for Colorado.  On Texas’ seventh play, Young was picked off by Colorado sophomore cornerback Terrence Wheatley.  Wheatley returned the interception 37 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Colorado lead.  On the Longhorns’ next possession, Young was picked off again, this time by another Buff sophomore cornerback, Lorenzo Sims.  The Buffs, though, were not able to take advantage.

So much for the Colorado highlights.

Texas did not score until midway through the second quarter, tying the game on one-yard run by Vince Young.  A two-yard scoring run by Cedric Benson with 0:52 left gave the Longhorns a 14-7 halftime edge.  Any hopes of Colorado being competitive in the second half were dashed by two third quarter turnovers.  A Joel Klatt fumble quickly resulted in a score, and Benson put the game out of reach with a six-yard run after Texas’ Michael Griffin picked off a deflected Klatt pass.  Two drives totaling just 37 yards made the score 28-7 midway through the third quarter.

Colorado fans only reason for staying for the fourth quarter?  To see whether the Colorado offense would put together a drive which would actually carry the ball into Texas territory (Answer: yes, twice.  Once the Buffs turned the ball over with an interception, the other drive ended with Colorado turning the ball over on downs).

The 31-7 defeat was a humbling one for Colorado.  The Buffs generated all of one first down in the first half when the game was still at issue.  Bobby Purify managed only 13 yards on 12 carries.  Joel Klatt was held to 142 yards passing, with two interceptions.  Only John Torp, the Colorado punter, had a good day, averaging 50.8 yards on his six punts.

“It’s obvious that I didn’t have my team prepared to play today,” said Gary Barnett.  “We weren’t ready to play on offense and that’s on me.”  While not pinning blame on his coach, tight end Joe Klopenstein echoed similar sentiments.  “Early on we didn’t know what they were doing to us,” said Klopenstein, who did have a 45-yard catch in the fourth quarter, well after the game was out of hand.  “We weren’t ready and their front six out-played our front six.”

The Buffs were now a 4-4 team heading into November.  Colorado would face Kansas and Nebraska on the road, with a home game versus Kansas State sandwiched in between.  Colorado would have to win two out of three to be bowl eligible.  When asked about team morale after the Texas loss, Barnett said, “You don’t know (how it is) until you get back on Monday, and that’s our challenge.  Times like this, teams have to work together.  No one’s very happy with the way we played and our team performance.  This is a defining time for us.”

Kansas was up next, in Lawrence.  The Jayhawks were only 3-5 (1-4 in conference play).  Still, Kansas did have a win over Kansas State on its resume, and had a one-point loss to Texas Tech at home and a pair of six point losses to Nebraska and Iowa State on the road.

Colorado had entered October 3-0, looking for a national ranking.  After a 1-4 October, the Buffs were a loss away from the Big 12 North cellar.

The Buffs were hoping the change of calendar would bring a change of results.

 Now What? …

After the dismantling by Texas, the players and coaches all talked about moving forward.  “Possibly going to a bowl game is one bright spot,” said cornerback Terrence Wheatley, “We can still prove to people that we are not the team they think we are, and make a turn-around in the next three games.”

Echoed quarterback Joel Klatt: “Our goal is to beat Kansas. We know that we have some things that we need to fix, but our goal is to go out and beat Kansas and see where things go from there.”

There seemed little to do but look ahead, as looking back showed four losses in the past five games.  A bowl bid, such a certainty at 3-0, looked less likely for a 4-4 team – which finished with two of its final three games on the road.

If it was any consolation, the Buffs at least were not the only Big 12 North team with problems.  Nebraska lead the division at 5-3 (3-2 in conference play), but had been blown out by Kansas State, 45-21, and completely mauled by Texas Tech, 70-10.  Missouri was 4-4 (2-3) after losing to Nebraska, 24-3.  Iowa State was also 4-4, (2-3), but the Cyclones wins were over lightweights Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois, combined with a one-point conference win over Baylor and a six-point win over Kansas.  Kansas State was perhaps the biggest disappointment, at 3-5 (1-4).  The Wildcats had a win over Nebraska, but the defending Big 12 Champions had lost to every other conference opponent they had faced.

Kansas was just as dismayed about its record as Colorado.  Sporting a 3-5 (1-4) record, the Jayhawks had a least defeated rival Kansas State for the first time since 1992.  Also, Kansas had posted two wins in the past three games against Colorado in Lawrence.  With a game against Texas the week after Colorado, it appeared unlikely that the Jayhawks would post three straight wins and become bowl eligible, but there was no reason to believe that the Buffs could count on leaving Memorial Stadium with an easy win.

Game Notes … 

– On a day with negligible offense by the Buffs, an offensive record was nonetheless set. With 142 yards passing, Joel Klatt became the 5th quarterback in CU history to pass for over 4,000 yards.

– CU’s rushing totals: 18 rushes; three yards. It was the seventh lowest total in Buff history (the other six were all in the negative).

– Texas continued to dominate on the road, winning for the 20th time in their past 21 road games.


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