October 14th – Boulder           Colorado 30, Texas Tech 6

Colorado ended a school-record ten game losing streak with a dominating 30-6 win over Texas Tech. Bernard Jackson threw for two touchdowns and the Buffs took advantage of five Red Raider turnovers to collect their first victory under Dan Hawkins.

The Buffs scored on their first possession of the game for the sixth time in seven games, with a 28-yard pass from Bernard Jackson to tight end Riar Geer finishing off a five-play, 65-yard drive. Early in the second quarter, Jackson picked up touchdown pass No. 2 with a 29-yarder to Jarrell Yates.

Two field goals from All-American kicker Mason Crosby, including a 56-yarder, gave Colorado a 20-0 halftime advantage. Another long Crosby kick, this time from 53 yards out, upped the lead to 23-0 in the third quarter.

Texas Tech got on the scoreboard with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Graham Harrell to Danny Amendola early in the fourth quarter. The 50,233 on hand in Folsom Field had to wonder if another CU collapse was imminent, but the Buffs recovered the ensuing onsides kick, then took advantage of the short field to put the game away. A one yard run by Bernard Jackson with 3:27 to play closed out the scoring, giving the Buffs their first win since the previous November.

The Colorado offense went for 380 total yards on the day, with Hugh Charles going for 119 yards on 17 carries to lead the 228-yard rushing attack … the first time the Buffs had posted over 200 yards rushing in consecutive games since 2002.

The real stars of the game, though, played for the Buff defense. Overall, Colorado held an explosive Red Raider passing attack to 245 yards – 105 yards below its season average – and forcing five turnovers. Safety Ryan Walters collected the first two interceptions of his career, linebacker Jordon Dizon posted a career-high 16 tackles (11 unassisted), with defensive end Abraham Wright making a key fourth-down sack late in the first half when Texas Tech was still down only 14-0.

Up next for the 1-6 Buffs … a road trip to Norman to face No. 20 Oklahoma.

A winning streak for the still struggling Buffs was not likely in the offing – but they did get to enjoy a win for the first time in 11 months.

Be True to Your School

The Texas Tech game had long been on my fall calendar. There were only two CU home games in October, Baylor and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were a pre-season top 25 pick, while the Bears were seen as one of the gimme wins on the schedule. As my custom has always been to make the 1,400 mile round trip only for the marque games, the CU/Texas Tech game was the easy choice when travel plans were made during the summer of 2006.

The logic behind the trip seemed less defensible, though, after the Baylor loss. The Buffs had just lost for the 10th time in a row, and, as gut-wrenching as the loss to Baylor had been, it was all the more exasperating because it was, well, Baylor. This was a team we were supposed to beat – always. Now the Buffs had a home game against a very potent Texas Tech squad, followed by two road games. The question the week before the game with the Red Raiders was not whether the Buffs would set the all-time record for futility, but how long the streak would extend before the saga would come to a merciful end.

Apparently, I was not the only one questioning whether the trip was worthwhile. I questioned Randy early in the week to see if he was still willing to make the pilgrimage with me. He was. I received emails from both Tony in Boulder and Brad in Denver asking if I was still planning on enduring the dull ride through desolate eastern Wyoming.

My email reply to both of my Colorado cohorts included the title of an old Beach Boys tune, “Be True to Your School“. For those who can’t summon the memory, the chorus goes like this:

So be true to your school now

Just like you would to your girl or boy

Be true to your school now

And let your colors fly

Be true to your school

I will admit that when we entered Folsom Field on that overcast afternoon, I did not harbor much hope for a Buff victory. Yes, Texas Tech had lost the previous weekend to Missouri – but it had taken five turnovers, including two interception returns for touchdowns, to do in the Red Raiders. I told Randy before kickoff that if we did receive five turnovers, we would have a chance, but my analysis was more gallows humor than a prediction.

The numbers were right there before us:

— Texas Tech had the third ranked passing attack in the country; Colorado’s pass defense was ranked 103rd;

— The Buffs’ passing attack was ranked a lowly 115th, with the Red Raider pass defense ranked 8th;

— Colorado’s scoring offense (even with the 31 points from the Baylor game), was ranked 109th; Tech’s scoring defense was 43rd.

Logic was not on our side. The Buffs’ pass defense, the weak link on the team, was going up against the offense which had won four straight NCAA passing titles. There was no television coverage, as for the second consecutive week, the Buffs were not deemed worthy of air time.

Still, they don’t play the game on paper, so there we were, alongside a surprisingly large crowd of 50,233, to cheer on the Buffs.

When the Buffs scored on their opening drive (which had become their custom), I was pleased but not sold. When the Buffs went up 20-0 just before halftime, I was just as shocked as everyone else. When the Buffs went up 23-0 late in the third quarter, I remarked to Brad and Randy, “I can’t remember ever being this nervous about a three-score lead”.

Would the Buffs hold on? Colorado had a 13-0 lead at Georgia, but let the game slip away. This 0-6 team had never finished off an opponent under Dan Hawkins. Could they now?

Oh, my, yes! When Bernard Jackson scored from a yard out with 3:27 to play to raise the lead to 30-6, I was ready to celebrate. So was everyone else. It was icing on the cake came when Thaddaeus Washington intercepted a Graham Harrell pass with just over a minute to play, giving the Buffs their fifth turnover on the afternoon. I flashed a smile at Randy – we had gotten our five turnovers.

I was a little upset that the students stormed the field after the clock hit 0:00. After all, it was just one win, and not even one over a ranked opponent. As Dan Hawkins put it, “I’d degrade the Buffalo tradition if I was going to do a back flip over 1-6”. Still, when I saw Hugh Charles and Bernard Jackson being hoisted on the shoulders of throngs of well-wishers, I had to concede that the students and the student athletes deserved to savor the moment. Though high up in the stands, I was enjoying the moment just as much as they.

The drive home was unusually short. It gets that way after a big win. The streak had come to an end. The gruesome finish to the 2005 season began to fade from memory. The ugly start to the Hawkins’ era seemed a little more palatable. There were good times to come in Boulder.

As always, enduring the struggles made the victories all the sweeter.

Be true to your school.

Game Notes …

– Colorado ran 40 of its 65 offensive plays in plus-territory.

– The Buffs did not commit a penalty against the Red Raiders, only the fourth time in school history – and the first time since September 21, 1985 – that a Colorado team played an entire game without a blemish.

– The touchdown catch by Jarrell Yates came on the first catch of his career, the first time a Buff scored on his first career catch since James Kidd in 1993.

– Halftime ceremonies honored former Buff star Bobby Anderson, just the fourth Colorado player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

– For their efforts, Mason Crosby and Ryan Walters were named the Big 12 Conference Players-of-the-Week. Crosby earned special teams honors (3-of-3 field goal attempts, including two of over 50 yards), while Ryan Walters was the defensive honoree (four tackles, two interceptions, two third down stops).

– Texas Tech would go on to post an 8-5 record overall (4-4 in Big 12 play), including a 44-41 overtime win over Minnesota in the Insight.com Bowl.



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