September 10th – at Boulder           Colorado 39, New Mexico State 0

Colorado shut out an opponent for the first time since 2002 in routing New Mexico State in Boulder, 39-0.

The game, kicking off at 8:10 p.m., was at the time the latest ever for Colorado at Folsom Field, but the game was out of reach early enough for most Buff fans to get a good night’s sleep. Joel Klatt passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Lawrence Vickers scored three times in leading the Buffs over the Aggies.

Colorado scored on its opening possession, with Lawrence Vickers finishing off a 42-yard drive with a two-yard run less than six minutes into the contest. The Buffs dominated the remainder of the first half, but were up only 10-0 with two minutes left before the break. A second Mason Crosby field goal gave Colorado a 13-0 lead with 1:52 remaining.

After failing to make a first down on its next possession, New Mexico State botched the punt attempt, with the ball sailing out of the end-zone for a Colorado safety. Taking the subsequent free kick, the Buffs quickly marched 63 yards in four plays, with Joel Klatt hitting Lawrence Vickers on a three-yard pass to give the Buffs a commanding 22-0 halftime lead.

Colorado scored on its opening possession of the second half as well, with sixth-year tight end Quinn Sypniewski culminating the 59-yard drive with an 11-yard pass from Klatt. It was Sypniewski’s first career touchdown (though he did have a two-point conversion reception against Missouri in 2002). The Buffs finished off a record-setting third quarter – 14 first downs, the most ever in a single quarter – with a 13-play, 89-yard drive, capped off by another Vickers’ score, this time on an 11-yard run.

Up 36-0 after three quarters, and reserves getting some field experience, the only remaining issue of the game was whether the shutout could be preserved.

Twice the Aggies penetrated the CU red-zone, but scoring opportunities were lost on a blocked field goal and an interception in the Buff end-zone.

“In almost every phase I felt we were focused,” said Gary Barnett, whose coaching record in Division 1-A improved to 79-78-2, (44-33 at Colorado), the first time over .500 in his career. “I’m extremely pleased defensively that we were able to shut down a team that does a lot of things to you.”

A big win over New Mexico State was expected (the Buffs were 24-point favorites), but keeping the Aggies out of the end-zone was a bonus. New Mexico State’s coach Hal Mumme brought his passing offense in to challenge Colorado’s maligned secondary, but came up empty. The Aggies generated only 181 yards of total offense, including only five rushing yards.

The five rushing yards allowed, the seventh-best effort ever by a Buff defense, was one of several milestones set against the Aggies:

– Running back Hugh Charles became the first back since Marcus Houston in 2000 to open the season with two 100-yard games, posting 105 yards before sitting out much of the fourth quarter;

– Quarterback Joel Klatt became only the third Buff quarterback ever to surpass 5,000 career yards, climbing to 5,148 by game’s end, trailing only Koy Detmer (5,390 yards) and Kordell Stewart (6,481)

– All-everything Mason Crosby saw his school-record 10 consecutive made field goal string end with a miss from 55 yards out in the first quarter, but extended his string of consecutive games with a made field goal to six, two shy of Fred Lima’s record set in 1972-‘73.

After gathering up all of the records and accolades from their easy win, the only stat that mattere was that the Buffs were 2-0 on the 2005 season.

Up next was a bye week, followed by a trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes. Miami would enter the contest ranked 12th, having lost their opener to Florida State, 10-7, before bouncing back with a 36-30 three-overtime win over Clemson. Both of Miami’s opening games were against ranked teams on the road. Now the Hurricanes would face the Buffs for the first time since 1993, at home in the Orange Bowl against unranked Colorado (still on the outside looking in at No. 32).

The game against Miami represented a great opportunity for the Buffs.

A win would guarantee entry into the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons. A close loss would still give the Buffs some momentum heading into Big 12 conference play.

The negatives would resurface, though, if – for the 16th time in the Gary Barnett era – the Buffs limped home with a double digit loss.

Klatt Attack

In the fall of 2002, a former baseball player quietly walked on to the Colorado football squad.

In his first season as a Buff quarterback, Joel Klatt saw mop up duty against Baylor, failing to complete a pass. Two seasons and two games later, Klatt became only the third quarterback in Colorado history to pass for over 5,000 yards.

Eclipsing the 5,000 mark against New Mexico State, Klatt, with 5,148 yards, was in position to become the most prolific passer in CU history, with Koy Detmer (at 5,390) only a game or two away, and Kordell Stewart (at 6,481) well within reach. The other two each had long NFL careers.

Klatt was a former shortstop from Arvada.

“I’ve said this before, but you have to be lucky and stay away from injuries,” said Klatt, the unassuming captain of the Buffs. “You have to be in a passing offense, and luckily, we are.”

Klatt’s career started off with a bang, throwing for 402 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado State in his first game. For all of 2003, Klatt had 2,614 yards passing, including 21 touchdowns. Klatt’s first season netted 19 school records.

But it wasn’t always easy.

Selected as a team captain in 2004, Klatt was the oft-quoted spokesman for the team during the turbulent spring and summer between the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The pressure of representing his team and his school seemingly took a toll on Klatt, as he struggled on the field in 2004. Klatt passed for over 2,000 yards, but had nine touchdowns to go with his 15 interceptions, and he was benched as starter for the Iowa State contest.

Only 14-10 as a starter, and not nimble as a runner (Klatt’s 33 yards rushing against New Mexico State raised his career total to a minus-100 yards rushing), Klatt would not soon make Buff fans forget the athleticism of Stewart or the precision of Detmer. He was poised, though, to become the Buffs’ all-time leading passer.

Not too shabby for a former walk-on.


Game Notes

– Despite being from neighboring states, Colorado had never before played New Mexico State in football.

– The shutout was the first for Colorado since defeating Baylor, 34-0, in 2002.

– The late kickoff, for television and a fireworks show, was three minutes later than a 1996 game against Oklahoma State (a 35-13 win). The game ended at 11:26 p.m.

– The safety against New Mexico State was the first for the Buffs since 2000, when Texas A&M also snapped the ball out of the end-zone (a 26-19 CU victory).

– The previous record for first downs in a quarter, before the Buffs posted 14 in the third quarter against the Aggies, was 13, set v. Arizona, 10/11/58 (fourth quarter of a 65-12 Buff win) and matched against Kansas, 11/13/93 (third quarter in a 38-14 CU win).

– With the win, Gary Barnett’s career mark overall rose to 87-89-2, including his 8-11-1 record at NAIA Fort Lewis.

– The five rushing yards allowed, 7th best in CU history, was the second best effort by a Barnett-led Buff squad (-11 v. Oklahoma, 10/30/99, a 38-24 Buff win).

– Against New Mexico State, Joel Klatt had 18 pass completions, giving him 465 for his career, passing the career mark of 456 set by Kordell Stewart (1991-‘94).

– Other records held by Joel Klatt included: most attempts in a game (54); most completions in a game (38 – yes, same game – v. Kansas in 2003); Most completions in a season (233, in ‘03); and highest completion percentage in a season (65.1% in ‘03).

– By the end of his career, Klatt held or shared a total of forty four single game, season, or career marks at Colorado (second only to Byron White, who held 51 records in all CU sports, but better than Kordell Stewart’s football-only 36 records).



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