November 4th – Boulder           Kansas State 34, Colorado 21

Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman completed 22-of-26 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, leading Kansas State to a 34-21 win over Colorado in Boulder.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Wildcats scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to take control.

The first score of the game came on a 15-yard Leon Patton run early in the second quarter, capping a 10-play, 66-yard drive. Still in the game midway through the second quarter, a fumble on a punt return by Stephone Robinson gave the ball to Kansas State at the CU 16-yard line. A few plays later, Freeman – who would go on to earn Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors for his efforts – hit Yamon Figurs for a nine-yard touchdown and a two score advantage. On the last play from scrimmage in the half, Jeff Snodgrass hit a 46-yard field goal to make it 17-0 at halftime.

The game remained a shutout when Bernard Jackson was stuffed for no gain at the Kansas State one-yard line on the Buffs’ first drive of the second half. A 40-yard run by Mell Holiday on CU’s next possession highlighted a six-play, 64-yard drive, culminated in a three-yard run by Bernard Jackson to make it a 17-7 game late in the third quarter.

A 27-yard field goal by Snodgrass gave Kansas State a 20-7 advantage early in the fourth quarter, countered quickly by a 62-yard touchdown run by Bernard Jackson just over a minute later.

The Buffs were now down 20-14, but there was still 13:26 left on the game clock, and the 42,696 in attendance still had hopes of a Colorado comeback.

Those hopes were dashed just 91 seconds later, when Josh Freeman hit Jordy Nelson for a 73-yard touchdown to make it a 27-14 game. A short time later, Yamon Figurs scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on a 30-yard reverse, putting the game out of reach.

The Buffs did score a consolation touchdown on their next drive, with Bernard Jackson connecting on a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyson DeVree, but it was too little, too late, for the now 1-9 Buffs.


Staving off Disaster

Finally, Dave Plati would have to give it a rest.

The 34-21 loss to Kansas State officially eliminated the Buffs from the Big 12 North race.

Most anyone with a pulse had long since stopped viewing Colorado as a viable contender to three-peat as the North division representative in the conference title game. The long time CU Sports Information Director, though, continued throughout the miserable 2006 campaign to spin scenarios in which the Buffs could still win the title.

To be fair, there was some history on Dave’s side.

In 2004, the Buffs started off the conference schedule 1-4, rebounding with three wins in November to pull off an unlikely title with a 4-4 record. In 2006, Colorado was again 1-4 in conference play heading into November, and with division leaders Nebraska and Missouri sputtering along with 3-2 marks, there was the chance, albeit, as Dave acknowledged in his weekly press release, “seemingly as remote as the planet Pluto”.

Now it was all over.

The brief glimpse of hope the Buffs had given their fans early in the fourth quarter of a comeback had lasted all of three plays. After Bernard Jackson scored to pull the Buffs to within a touchdown at 20-14, the Colorado defense, which had been stalwart throughout the afternoon and the season, gave up a 78-yard touchdown pass to put the game out of reach.

There were no more pipe dreams. No more justifications for optimism. No more rationalizations.

CU was one of the worst teams in the nation.

What was left for the Buffs and their fans? Colorado was 1-9, with a home game against Iowa State and the finale in Lincoln against Nebraska left to be played out. What was there to play for?

Well, for starters, the 2006 Buffs had to win at least once to avoid becoming the first 11-game loser in Colorado history. The 1980 and 1984 Buffs had finished 1-10, but with the advent of the 12th game came the opportunity to set a new standard for embarrassment.

There was also this: Since Colorado had joined the Big Six to form the Big Seven in 1948, the Buffs had never finished alone in last place in conference play. In fact, Colorado had finished in a tie for the basement only three times in the past 69 seasons of major college football:

In 1973, Colorado, Kansas State, and Iowa State all had 2-5 conference records.

In 1980, the Buffs finished 1-6 in conference play, tied with Kansas State. In 1982, the Buffs finished 1-5-1 in the Big Eight, tied with both Iowa State and Kansas, who also posted 1-5-1 conference records.

(In 1984, the Buffs were 1-6 in the Big Eight, but avoided the basement when Iowa State finished 0-5-2).

During that same time (1948-96), fellow members of the Big Seven/Eight had the following cellar dwelling finishes:

Kansas State: 20 times (yes, 20 times alone in last!);

Iowa State: seven times;

Kansas: four times;

Oklahoma State: three times (OSU joined the Big Seven to make the Big Eight in 1960)

Missouri: twice

Nebraska: once (in 1957, Nebraska finished 1-5 in the Big Seven, 1-9 overall)

The only school other than Colorado to avoid the conference basement since World War II was Oklahoma. The worst the Sooners had finished – from 1948 to 1996 and the beginning of the Big 12 – was fifth place finishes in 1965, 1966, and 1995 (unless you count 1972, when the first place Sooners, 6-1 in conference, 11-1 overall, forfeited all of their wins for using an ineligible player).

You had to go all the way back to 1915 to find a Colorado team which finished dead last in conference play.

That season, the Buffs finished 0-5 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (1-6 overall). On only one other occasion, in 1898, when Colorado finished 0-2 in the Colorado Football Association (4-4 overall), did the Buffs have the basement to themselves.

Iowa State came to Boulder with a 3-7 overall record, 0-6 in Big 12 play. A win over the Cyclones would mean the Buffs would finish outside of the Big 12 cellar for yet another season. A loss to ISU would leave the teams with identical 1-7 conference records with one game to play.

There were no more titles to play for in 2006, not even in the most optimistic hypothetical scenario. All that was left to play for was pride and a fifth place finish in the Big 12 North.

When you can no longer run, baby steps have to be considered acceptable.


Game Notes …

– The Buffs fell to 1-9 for just the third time in school history.

– For just the 20th time in CU’s 220-game consecutive scoring streak, the Buffs were stretched into the second half before scoring.

– Bernard Jackson had 17 carries for 105 yards, his first career 100-yard rushing game. Jackson’s 62-yard touchdown run was the longest run by any Buff in 2006, and the second-longest play from scrimmage all season.

– Bernard Jackson’s two-scoring runs marked the only time in all of 2006 in which a Buff scored two touchdowns in a game.

– Senior tight end Paul Creighton earned his first career start against Kansas State. A career special teams contributor, Creighton would also start in the finale against Nebraska.

– The win over Colorado gave Kansas State a 6-4 overall record, clinching the Wildcats’ first bowl bid since 2003. Kansas State would go on to upset No. 4 Texas, 45-42, the following weekend, before returning to earth with a loss to Kansas in the regular season finale. Invited to the Texas Bowl, Kansas State fell to No. 16 Rutgers, 37-10, to cap a 7-6 campaign.


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