November 11th – Boulder          Colorado 33, Iowa State 16

Bernard Jackson threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as Colorado closed out its home schedule with a dominating 33-16 win over Iowa State. Jackson completed 13-of-19 passes for 200 yards as the Buffs scored on seven consecutive possessions in rolling up 463 yards of total offense.

The Buffs scored on their opening possession, with Jackson hitting Alvin Barnett for a 26-yard touchdown to cap a quick four-play, 80-yard drive. After the Cyclones scored on their next possession to tie the score, it was all Buffs for most of the rest of the afternoon.

A Mason Crosby 47-yard field goal put the Buffs up to stay late in the first quarter, with a five-yard scoring run by Bernard Jackson capping a 15-play, 95-yard drive making it a 17-7 game midway through the second. Just before the break, Crosby connected on a 38-yarder, giving Colorado a 20-7 lead at the break.

After Crosby hit from 41 yards out to make it 23-7, the Buffs put the game out of reach with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Patrick Williams. A few minutes later, the Colorado scoring streak came to an end, but not without excitement. Mason Crosby lined up for what would be a NCAA record-tying 65-yard field goal, but the effort came up just short.

Crosby did hit on his fourth field goal of the afternoon, a 42-yarder, in the fourth quarter, sandwiched between an Iowa State field goal and a late touchdown (the two-point conversion attempt failed), making it a 33-16 final.


Mason Crosby’s Senior Day Send Off

When you are cheering for a team whose offense has spent the season being either anemic (the charitable description) or pathetic (the less charitable assessment), three-and-outs are all too common. Yet midway through the fourth quarter of Colorado’s 33-16 win over Iowa State, a three-and-out was exactly what 43,056 Buff fans on hand were rooting for.

Colorado had scored on each of its first seven possessions of the game, building a 33-10 lead. An Iowa State punt had given the ball back to Colorado near midfield with just under eight minutes to play. All that remained was for the Buffs to run out the clock.

But there was still some unfinished business.

It was Senior Day.

It was the last opportunity for Buff fans to cheer for the 23 seniors playing for the last time at Folsom Field. At the head of the class was kicker Mason Crosby. Crosby, a Lou Groza award finalist in 2005, was the rarest of kickers – one who had the opportunity to leave school early for the NFL.

Crosby, though, opted to return to Boulder for his senior season. Labeled by new head coach Dan Hawkins as his “best recruit” of his first class at Colorado, speculation and anticipation about a record field goal attempt began almost immediately. The Buffs opened with a Division 1-AA school, Montana State, and the fans (including myself), felt certain that once the Buffs were far enough ahead of the out-manned Bobcats, Crosby would be given the chance at a record-setting 70-yard field goal.

The MSU game, and the rest of the Colorado season, though, had not turned out as envisioned. The Buffs were stunned by the Bobcats, and opened the season with a six game losing streak. Coming into the final home weekend of the season, Colorado was 1-9, and Crosby was still without his record-setting field goal.

I called Brad as soon as Colorado took possession near midfield. Would the Buffs, who had scored on every possession in the game, intentionally fail to secure a first down, giving Crosby one more chance at the history books? There was little to be gained from another touchdown, even for an offense showing signs of life for only the second time all year.

Would Crosby get his chance?

The answer came quickly. Three running plays failed to secure a first down, much to the delight of the Buff fans. Crosby, who had connected on all four of his previous field goal opportunities on the afternoon, lined up for a 65-yard attempt. If successful, Crosby would tie the all-time NCAA record for field goal distance established by Martin Gramatica of Kansas State in 1998.

The kick was on line.

The kick had a chance.

The 65-yard attempt, though, went 64 yards.

“It was one of the better feeling kicks I’ve had,” said Crosby. “But when you’re that far away it has to be perfect.”

The Buff faithful, to their credit, gave Crosby a standing ovation. Even losing head coach Dan McCarney understood giving Crosby the chance to make history. “He’s the best kicker in the history of college football,” said McCarney, coaching his last road game as the Iowa State head coach. “If he was over on my sideline I would have given him a shot too. He’s a great player and it was an honor to coach against him.”

After the game, Crosby was asked for a curtain call.

“I was going in (to the locker room),” said Crosby, “and someone told me they were yelling for me to come back to the field. That’s what I came back (to CU for his senior season) for. That’s what is so fun about college football.”

Crosby still had one game remaining in his Colorado career. Even if he did not set any national records, his place in the CU record books was secure. With his four field goals and three extra points against Iowa State, Crosby, already the Buffs’ all-time leading scorer, became the first Colorado player to eclipse the 300-point barrier for his career. In addition to over a dozen school records, Crosby held the marks for the most field goal attempts and field goals made in Big 12 history. For the second year in a row, Crosby had been named a finalist for the Lou Groza award, given to the nation’s best kicker.

The win over Iowa State would not erase the disappointment of the 2-9 season. But for Crosby and his fellow seniors, running into Folsom Field behind Ralphie for the final time, a dominating win could not have come at a better time. Perhaps senior linebacker Thaddaeus Washington, who received the ninth annual Buffalo Heart Award from the fans after the game, summed it up best: “We had a hard time this year, frustrating at times and it was important to the seniors to go out on a winning note like that. It showed a lot of character in my teammates.” Washington concluded by saying, “We have been down for awhile, but we’re up now.”

The Buffs, having clinched a finish outside of the Big 12 North basement, would conclude their 2006 season on the road in Lincoln, against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers had a clinching win of their own the same day as the CU/ISU game, defeating Texas A&M, 28-27, on a last minute touchdown to claim Nebraska’s first Big 12 North title since 1999. Nebraska would face either Texas or Oklahoma in Kansas City on December 2nd.

While the Cornhuskers would play on in 2006, the Buffs’ mind-numbing season would come to a close at the final gun in Lincoln.

One final chance at redemption.


Game Notes …

– Colorado averaged 9.0 yards on 25 first down plays, and had 314 yards of total offense in the first half, a total better than what the Buffs were able to produce in seven complete games in 2006.

– Mell Holiday had 18 carries for 126 yards against Iowa State, the highest rushing total for the Buffs all season.

– Bernard Jackson’s 200-yard passing day was the only 200-yard offensive day for the Buffs in 2006.

– The 39-yard touchdown pass from Bernard Jackson to Patrick Williams was the longest scoring pass of the year.

– Mason Crosby would go on to be named first-team All-American by Walter Camp and Pro Football Weekly, as well as a near unanimous first-team All Big-12 selection. Crosby would go on to be a sixth-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2007 NFL draft.

– Iowa State played the game just three days after learning that their long-time head coach Dan McCarney was being forced to step down at the end of the season. The Cyclones went 4-8, 1-7 in 2006, but that did not diminish McCarney’s accomplishments in Ames. McCarney had 56 wins and five bowl appearances in his 11 years at Iowa State, both school records.



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