October 16th  – Boulder           Colorado 19, Iowa State 14

There were certainly more attractive games on the Big 12 slate for the weekend of October 16th, as Missouri (4-1,2-0) was playing at No. 9 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma was on the road against a desperate Kansas State squad, and No. 16 Oklahoma State hosted No. 23 Texas A&M.

Iowa State (2-3, 0-2) at Colorado (3-2, 0-2) drew little national attention.

Who knew the game would be for the Big 12 North title? …

Colorado kicker Mason Crosby set several Buff field goal kicking records on his way to leading Colorado to an “ugly” 19-14 win over Iowa State.  Crosby kicked four field goals, including a school record 60-yarder, on an afternoon otherwise marred by sloppy play by both teams.  A total of seven turnovers and 20 penalties combined to leave the 44,285 in attendance, the smallest crowd to ever witness a Big 12 game in Boulder, mumbling to themselves.

“We played hard”, said Colorado head coach Gary Barnett, “It wasn’t beautiful and not Top-20ish.”

Colorado sophomore James Cox received his first start as a Colorado quarterback against the Cyclones.  Cox directed the Buffs to a 13-0 second quarter lead which could have been much larger. Colorado scored early in the first quarter after recovering a muffed punt at the ISU 11-yard line.  Three plays later, Cox hit tight end Jesse Warren from three yards out for a 7-0 lead.  The Buffs had a first-and-goal later in the first quarter turn into a 28-yard Mason Crosby field goal, and could get Crosby no closer than the ISU 41-yard line in the second quarter before the sophomore kicker put through the 60-yarder just off the left upright.  Crosby’s record-setting effort was two yards longer than Jerry Hamilton’s 58-yard effort against the Cyclones in 1981.

Not satisfied with success, the Buffs let the Cyclones back into the game late in the first half. With 1:43 remaining, ISU cornerback Ellis Hobbs returned an interception 34 yards to cut the Colorado lead to 13-7.  After holding Colorado to a punt, the Cyclones muffed their second punt of the half, leading to another long field goal by Crosby, this one from 54 yards out, to improve the Buff advantage to 16-7 at the half.

The third quarter was dominated by Iowa State, but they did not capitalize.  On the day, the Cyclones were inside the Colorado 20-yard line, or red zone, five times, but came away with no points.  Two missed field goals from short range, a fumble, and two failed fourth down conversion attempts, sealed the Cyclones 13th consecutive conference defeat.  A long scoring pass with 2:38 left cut the Buff advantage to 19-14, but Colorado was able to run out the remaining clock to post its first conference win of 2004.

“It hasn’t been easy getting to 4-2, and we know, but that just may be the way it is,” Barnett said.  “It will be sunny for a week because of it.”

But the Buffs could not take the time to enjoy their win.  Up next was a trip to College Station for a game with the Aggies of Texas A&M.  Looked upon as a possible road breakthrough for the Buffs at the beginning of the season, A&M had turned things around under second year head coach Dennis Franchione.  A 4-8 team in 2003, Texas A&M was 5-1 in 2004, ranked 17th in the nation.  What was more discouraging for the Buffs and their fans was that A&M was coming off a convincing 36-20 win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater – the very same Cowboys who had manhandled the Buffs only a week before.

An ugly win over a struggling team, at home, had given the Buffs a 4-2 overall record, 1-2 in conference play.  A second conference win, with two nationally ranked Texas schools in the next two weeks, would be tough to find.


Ineptitude, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, is the state of being inept, or acting in such a way as to be considered “clumsy or bungling; inefficient”.

For the Colorado Buffs and their opponents, the Cyclones of Iowa State, the battle on the warm, sunny October afternoon in Boulder was not a battle of teams trying to win their first conference game of 2004, it was a comedy of errors between two teams setting new standards for incompetence on the football field.  Colorado tried gamely all afternoon to allow Iowa State back into the game after taking a 13-0 lead, but the Cyclones were just as efficient at refusing the gifts of their hosts.

Other than the kicking game, the Buffs were atrocious.  Colorado’s lone touchdown drive – are you ready for this? – covered 11 yards, coming after a muffed punt return by Iowa State’s Todd Miller.  The Buffs could not even do the touchdown correctly, as Jesse Wallace, on the receiving end of a three-yard scoring pass from James Cox, received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting the ISU defender.

On Colorado’s next possession, the Buffs put together a 56-yard drive.  After a 35-yard run by Bobby Purify to the Iowa State one yard line, Colorado was poised to take command of the game midway through the first quarter.  But the Buffs were called for a false start, moving the ball back to the six.  Three plays netted zero yards, and the Buffs had to settle for a Mason Crosby field goal attempt.  Even that didn’t go smoothly, as the Buffs were signaled for an illegal formation, and Crosby had to make the kick again to put the Buffs up 10-0.

Even though Colorado dominated the early going, errors of commission and omission continued to keep the Cyclones in the game:

1) On ISU’s next possession, Colorado junior cornerback Lorenzo Sims intercepted Cyclone quarterback Bret Meyer, returning the ball deep into ISU territory.  But …. an illegal block on the return put the Buffs back on their 26.  A three-and-out possession ensued;

2) After Mason Crosby’s historic 60-yard field goal put the Buffs up 13-0, the teams exchanged punts.  With 1:30 left, Colorado took over on their 25.  Time enough for another field goal drive before the half.  Instead, a one-play drive ensued, with James Cox being picked off for a touchdown by Cyclone Ellis Hobbs.  A 13-0 halftime lead was now looking like a 13-7 game, with ISU poised to receive the second half kickoff;

3) Still, the first half was not yet over. A Colorado three-and-out followed the Iowa State score, but the Cyclones again muffed the punt.  The Buffs took over at the ISU 18 with 43 seconds left before half.  Colorado could only muster two plays over the next 35 seconds, but were at the ISU six with eight seconds left.  Joel Klatt, in for James Cox, hit Jesse Warren for an apparent touchdown.  But …. Warren was called for offensive pass interference.  Not willing to settle for a field goal attempt from the ISU 21, the Buffs tacked on another unsportsmanlike penalty. What had been a first-and-goal from the ISU six yard line had turned into a 54-yard field goal attempt.  Thank goodness for Crosby.  The scoring line: Three plays, minus-eighteen yards.  Three points.

A gruesome display, all in one half, and the Buffs actually led the game, 16-7.

CU’s win, therefore, could not have come without the cooperation of the ISU Cyclones.  On the day, the Cyclones traveled into the Colorado red zone five times.  On none of those opportunities did ISU score.  None.  The Cyclone misery index:

1) second quarter – first-and-goal at the Colorado four.  Result: A missed 22-yard field goal;

2) third quarter – first-and-ten at the Colorado 16.  Result: running back Stevie Hicks stopped at the Buff seven on fourth-and-one;

3) third quarter – first-and-goal at the Colorado four.  Result: a missed 25-yard field goal;

4) fourth quarter – third-and-five at the Colorado 18.  Result: fumble by quarterback Bret Meyer; and

5) fourth quarter – first-and-ten at the Colorado 12.  Result: incomplete pass on fourth-and-ten.

Combine the above with the two muffed punts leading to ten Colorado points, a total of four turnovers, eight penalties, and four sacks, and you can begin to understand why ISU head coach Dan McCarney said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more frustrating game in all my career as a player, graduate assistant, part-time coach, coordinator or head coach.  To play that hard and to have that many opportunities to win a road game in the Big 12, to come up short, boy, that’s a sickening feeling.  It really is.”

The Buffs were now 4-2 on the season, but finding two wins in the remaining schedule to become bowl eligible would be tough to find.  Two ranked Texas teams were up next, followed by a road game at improved Kansas, a home game against Kansas State, and the Thanksgiving showdown with Nebraska.  It was not likely that the Buffs would be favored in any of their remaining games, even though they were 4-2.

Colorado was playing like a team with a losing record.  The play on the field was “clumsy, bungling; inefficient”.

Colorado’s record did not yet reflect the Buffs’ situation on the field.

Thank goodness.

Game Notes:

– It was Mason Crosby day at Folsom Field against Iowa State. The 60-yard field goal set a new team mark, surpassing the 58-yarder Jerry Hamilton had against Iowa State on 10/24/81 (a 17-10 loss). The Crosby kick also set a new Folsom Field standard, besting the 59-yarder by Johnny Beck for Kansas (part of a 27-16 CU win, 9/22/01).

– Crosby hit for four field goals against Iowa State, the best for a Buff kicker since Jeremy Aldrich hit for five (v. Kansas, a 51-17 CU win, 9/18/99).

– Punter John Torp had a good day against the Cyclones, punting five times for a 51.2 yard average, including two inside the twenty yard line. On the season, Torp would put 22 kicks inside the twenty, besting the school record of 21 by Keith English in 1988. Torp would go on to lead the Buffs to a 5th NCAA punting title in 2004.

– The Buffs ran their streak against the Cyclones to 20 wins in 21 games, the best such streak against any team since posting a 20-1-1 streak against Wyoming (1900–1975).

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