November 15th – Boulder          No. 13 Oklahoma State 30, Colorado 17

Colorado held Oklahoma State’s offense to its lowest output against any team not ranked in the top five in the nation, but it wasn’t enough to overcome yet another sluggish effort from the CU offense, as the Cowboys prevailed in Boulder, 30-17. OSU quarterback Zac Robinson ran for one touchdown and threw for another to lead the Cowboys to their first back-to-back wins in Boulder in twenty seasons.

For Colorado to have an opportunity to defeat 8-2 and 13th ranked Oklahoma State, the Buffs had to play error-free football. It took only four plays for that hope to be dashed, as on third-and-ten on the Buffs’ opening possession, Cody Hawkins completed a pass to Cody Crawford, who fumbled the ball at the CU 44 yard line. Five plays later, the Cowboys had a first-and-goal at the Colorado three yard line. Instead of giving in to the rout, however, the Buff defense held, forcing an 18-yard field goal attempt. Dan Bailey’s kick was good, and Oklahoma State had a 3-0 lead with 8:54 to play in the first quarter. (Lost during the OSU drive was senior safety Ryan Walters. Walters, who was awarded the Buffalo Heart Award after the game, joined senior safety D.J. Dykes, out with an illness, on the CU sidelines. The Buffs would play the remainder of the game without either of their senior starting safeties).

On the Buffs’ ensuing possession, the offense did drive as far as the Oklahoma State 34-yard line before a fumble on an attempted handoff to Patrick Williams netted the Buffs a 12-yard loss and a resulting punt. Taking over at their 20, the Cowboys marched smartly down the field, only to be stopped short of the CU goal line. On third-and-two at the Buffs’ four yard line, OSU tailback Kendall Hunter was stopped for a four yard loss by senior cornerback Gardner McKay and senior linebacker Brad Jones. Dan Bailey was again true, this time from 25 yards out, and the Cowboys were now up 6-0 late in the first quarter.

Outplayed but still in the game, the Colorado offense once again looked efficient until its own mistakes killed the drive. A 40-yard kickoff return by Josh Smith (who on the night would set a single season record for number of kickoff returns – 43 – surpassing Terrence Wheatley’s 37 returns in 2007) set up the offense at their own 40, and quickly the Buffs were into Cowboy territory. Converting two fourth-and-one opportunities, the offense made it as far as the OSU 22-yard line. A holding penalty, though, pushed the Buffs back, and a 50-yard field goal attempt by Aric Goodman hit off the left upright.

The Cowboys next drive looked to put an end to any aspirations the Buffs may have had concerning an upset. In only five plays, Oklahoma State put together a touchdown drive, sparked by a 26-yard run by Kendall Hunter and a highlight reel 29-yard touchdown catch by Dez Bryant The score was now13-0, OSU, midway through the second quarter, and many Buff fans wondered if the stadium would be full for the second half.

Showing resiliency which has been a hallmark of the 2008 Buff team, the Colorado offense gave it another try. Two scrambles by Cody Hawkins, one for 11 yards and another for a career-best 19 yards, coupled with a 24-yard run on a reverse by Josh Smith, put the Buffs in business at the OSU 16. An inability to finish a drive, also a hallmark of the 2008 CU offense, once again haunted the Buffs. A “Bronx cheer” went up for kicker Aric Goodman as he connected on his first field goal since the overtime win over West Virginia, a span of eight kicks. Goodman’s 31-yarder made the halftime score 13-3.

The rout police were on full alert after Oklahoma State needed only five plays to drive 80 yards to up the third quarter lead to 20-3. Kendall Hunter scored on a 43-yard run with 12:12 still to play, and it appeared all that was left for the Cowboys to do before turning their full attention to their season-ending matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners was to name the final score.

After the Colorado offense failed to produce a scoring drive, a career-best 59-yard punt by senior Tom Suazo pinned the Cowboys back on their six yard line. On this occasion, the Buff defense held, giving the offense the ball back at the CU 45. This time, the offense finished the drive, though not without a lucky bounce. On fourth-and-nine at the OSU 28-yard line, Cody Hawkins threw to Cody Crawford. The ball bounced off of Crawford, but instead of falling harmlessly to the turf for a turnover on downs, the ball found its way to Scotty McKnight, who carried the deflection into the endzone untouched. 20-10, Oklahoma State, with five minutes still to play in the third quarter.

Buoyed by the break, the 46,092 in attendance on the 43-degree evening were primed for another stand by the Colorado defense. Instead, the Buff faithful witnessed a drive which did not even see a third down. Carving up the Buffs in plays covering nine, 14, 17, 19, and ten yards, a 12-yard touchdown run by quarterback Zac Robinson was the natural conclusion to the eight play drive which upped the Cowboy lead to an insurmountable 27-10 late in the third quarter.

A three-and-out by the Buff offense pretty much ended the game, but those heading for the exits turned around a few moments later when a Zac Robinson pass was intercepted by CU linebacker Shaun Mohler. Mohler returned the interception – the first turnover generated by the Buffs’ defense in ten quarters of play – 16 yards to the Oklahoma State 16-yard line. Five plays later, the Buffs were again on the scoreboard, this time courtesy of a three yard touchdown run by Demetrius Sumler.

Down 27-17 with 12:30 still to play, the Buffs still had a chance. Instead, on their next possession (started at their own seven yard line), Cody Hawkins had three straight incompletions. Taking over at the Buff 39, the Cowboys pushed the ball as close as the CU four yard line before settling for one last chip shot field goal.

Final score. Oklahoma State 30, Colorado 17

The 13th-ranked Cowboys came to Boulder averaging almost 43 points per game, sixth best in the nation. But for three stops inside of the ten yard line by the CU defense, Oklahoma State would have reached their average. The Buff defense, for all of their efforts, did give up 443 total yards, and allowed the Cowboys to hold the ball for over ten minutes in the fourth quarter, eliminating any chance of a CU comeback.

The Buffs’ offense and special teams, for their parts, continued to be major contributors to Colorado’s woes. The Buff offense generated only 304 total yards, with Cody Hawkins going 19-37 for 171 yards. While the offense did convert all four fourth down conversions attempted, the need was generated by the unit being only 3-of-15 on third downs, and having to attempt fourth down conversions due a complete lack of faith in the CU kicking game.

“I thought we established some offensive continuity, we missed some opportunities to be sure,” said Dan Hawkins of the Buffs frustrating inability to start a game strong. “In general, we were in a pretty good groove. We punted only one time.” …. in the first half. And even though the Buffs had only one punt in the first half, there were only three points on the scoreboard at halftime. In the second half, while the CU offense did post two touchdowns, both were on short drives after Oklahoma State had established three score leads. Otherwise, the Buffs punted four times, with three three-and-outs when the result of the game was still in doubt.

“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Demetrius Sumler, who had a career-high 22 carries (for 86 yards) as Darrell Scott was unable to play due to an aggravation of his injuries on Tuesday before the game. “We have a good offense. We can move the ball, but we kill ourselves in a lot of situations. That’s something we have to buckle down on if we want to win in Lincoln.”

Oh, yeah. Lincoln.

For the fourth time in 11 seasons (but for the first time on the road), Colorado finishes the season against the Cornhuskers with a bowl bid on the line. In 1997, the Buffs were 5-5, but fell to #2 Nebraska, 27-24, to end a string of ten consecutive bowl appearances and twelve consecutive non-losing seasons. In 2003, a 5-6 Buff team fell to #25 Nebraska, 31-22. In 2007, CU finally broke through, coming from behind in the second half to defeat Nebraska, 65-51, to earn an Independence Bowl bid.

“We always talk about finishing,” said Dan Hawkins. “We have a big game coming up for a lot of reasons, if not for any other reason, just to finish. We need to continue to work and finish.”

Otherwise, the season will be finished.

Have’s … and Have Nots

There are five “Have’s” in the Big 12 in 2008. Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. These are teams which are in, or close to, the top ten in the nation, and have been for most of the season. Meanwhile, there are seven “Have Nots” in the conference (Kansas pretended to be a “Have” earlier in the season, but has since been exposed as a fraud).

How complete is the domination by the “Have’s”? The record of the Have’s against the Have Nots in the Big 12 in 2008 is a perfect 21-0. In fact, in games not played against each other, the Have’s are a combined 41-0 against the rest of the nation.

What separates the 2008 Buffs from the “Have’s” is readily obvious to even the most casual fan.

Play from the quarterback position at CU has been, to be generous, inconsistent. The offensive line has been decimated, and was not that experienced to begin with. The wide receivers have failed to gain separation and have failed produce a deep threat. The tight end position has disappeared from the offense, largely due to the need for a sixth blocker on almost every play.

The running backs? In August, the question was raised as to how to share the ball amongst so many bodies. Against Oklahoma State, all three of the freshman stars – Ray Polk, a redshirt who nonetheless was injured this week; Rodney Stewart, who broke his leg against Texas A&M; and Darrell Scott, who hasn’t played without injury since week two – were unable to participate.

The Colorado defense has been adequate, though far from dominating. The linebacking corps, thought to be the strength of the entire team, has been average. The defensive tackle combination of Brandon Nicholas and George Hypolite, ranked in preseason as one of the best tandems in the country, have failed to strike fear in opposing offenses. The secondary, for its part, has been the only pleasant surprise on the team this season, if only because so little was expected from the group in August.

Special teams? Puh-lease. The saga of the CU place kickers, if not so tragically sad, would almost be funny. Matt DiLallo, a two-year starter as punter, has been so inconsistent that he has been replaced by senior Tom Suazo. On the return side, the record-setting performance by Josh Smith has been tempered by bad decisions on Smith’s part, as well as his complaining that all of his return duties have detracted from his ability to be a playmaker on offense.


Four of the have-nots, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Kansas State, are out of contention for bowl bids. Seven teams, the five “Have’s”, as well as Kansas and Nebraska, have qualified for bowls. Only Colorado’s fate has yet to be determined.

With a win over Nebraska, the Buffs are guaranteed a bowl (the Big 12 has eight bowl contracts, and even that does not take into consideration the likelihood that the conference is likely receive two BCS bowl bids, moving everyone up a notch on the pecking order). A win in Lincoln will be a tough assignment, as Nebraska has won four of its last five games, including routs of the teams the Buffs struggled to beat, Kansas State and Iowa State. In fact, the Cornhuskers are the only “Have Not” to take care of business against every other “Have Not” they have faced, posting a 7-4 overall record thus far.

Can Colorado beat Nebraska? Absolutely.

Will the Buffs rise to the occasion? Will the Colorado offense “finish”? Will the Colorado defense generate turnovers and positive field position? Will the Colorado special teams finally become an asset instead of a liability?

You tell me.


CUatthegame Preview – Oklahoma State

Colorado last played Oklahoma State in 2005, with the Buffs prevailing in Stillwater, 34-0. In ‘05, Mike Gundy’s first season as head coach, the Cowboys finished with a 4-7 record (1-7 in Big 12 play). It’s safe to say that this is not the same team CU faced three seasons ago. The 2008 Cowboys are 8-2 and ranked 11th in the nation.

Saturday night will be a tough test for the Buffs.

This week’s “T.I.P.S.”

T – Talent

Aside from the health of the offensive line, no issue concerning the Buffs has consumed more air time this fall than the inconsistent play of the CU quarterbacks. With this backdrop, you have likely heard or read this week that Oklahoma State’s dual threat quarterback Zac Robinson is a Denver prep product (Chatfield High in Littleton, to be exact). The junior was either highly or lightly recruited by Colorado, depending on your source of information. With Robinson’s success to compare to the struggles of the Buffs’ signal callers, the “what might have been” crowd has been in full voice this week (Not that it matters, but according to, Robinson was first a Kansas State commit before changing his mind and opting to play for Mike Gundy in Stillwater. CU is not listed as being one of Robinson’s primary considerations).

However he got there, Robinson (only a two star recruit, by the way) has been a blessing for the Oklahoma State program. Taking over as a starter last season, Robinson leads a Cowboy attack which is ranked 7th in the nation in total offense and 6th in the nation in scoring offense. In ten games, Oklahoma State has surpassed the 50 point mark five times. Individually, Robinson is 3rd in the nation in pass efficiency, connecting on two-thirds of his pass attempts. The junior has 20 touchdown passes this season, throwing only six interceptions. Robinson’s favorite target is Dez Bryant, who is second in the country in receiving yards, collecting 114 yards in catches per game.

Lest you believe that the Cowboys are one dimensional, please allow me to introduce you to Kendall Hunter. The OSUsophomore running back is 4th in the nation in rushing, having accumulated 1,332 yards so far in 2008 (as a team, the Buffs have 1,319 rushing yards this season).

Overall, the Cowboys have been held under 30 points only three times this season (20 and 24 in losses to Texas Tech and Texas, respectively, and 28 in a 28-23 win over Missouri).

What can help the Buffs stem this attack? For starters, keeping the ball out of the hands of Robinson and Hunter. Is that feasible? Let’s talk about the much-maligned Colorado offensive line. After season-ending injuries were suffered by tackle Ryan Miller and Max Tuioti-Mariner the week of the Florida State game, the Buffs have fielded the same five linemen for every game in conference play. The unit, consisting of Nate Solder and Matthew Bahr at tackle, Blake Behrens and Devin Head at guard, and Daniel Sanders at center, has been providing more consistent play each week. Granted, the defenses of Texas A&M and Iowa State are not the best in the nation, but the Buffs have generated their best two offensive yardage outputs of the season (392 and 422 yards, respectively) the past two weeks, and the Oklahoma State defense, as is more fully described below in the stats section, is not all that you would expect from an 8-2 team.

If the Buffs can play keep away from the Cowboys, they have a chance to send out the seniors on a high note.

A second half like the one put up against Iowa State will keep things interesting.

A first half like the one against Iowa State will allow Buff fans to get home well before bedtime.

I – Intangibles


The United States celebrated its bi-centennial, “Rocky” was the best picture of the year, Jimmy Carter was elected President, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys won a championship in football.

Yes, it’s been that long since OSU has been on top of its conference. Even that title had to be shared, coming as a tri-championship shared with Colorado and Oklahoma (each team finished with a 5-2 record in Big Eight play). The Cowboys didn’t even get to go to the Orange Bowl that season as Big Eight champions, as Colorado made the trip to Miami. Oklahoma State’s last title was celebrated with a trip to …. the Tangerine Bowl.

2008 won’t be Cowboys’ year, either. Oklahoma State may be ranked 11th in the nation, but the Cowboys are no better than 4th in their own division. The winner of the Texas Tech/Oklahoma game next weekend has the best chance to represent the Big 12 South in the title game, with Texas also very much in the picture. OSU, with two losses in conference, would need a strange combination of outcomes to even share the title this season. Most likely, Oklahoma State will be heading for the Holiday Bowl or the Alamo Bowl late next month.

The rub? There is not much left for Oklahoma State to play for this season. Yes, the Cowboys are in the hunt for a top ten finish. Yes, the Cowboys are on the verge of their first nine win season since 2003. But there will be no titles. Those hopes ended at the final gun of a lopsided 56-20 loss to Texas Tech last weekend. A season-ending battle with Oklahoma awaits, but after that, it’s back to national obscurity for the Cowboys.

Now, I admit I was advocating a two game losing streak for Missouri coming into their game against the Buffs, and we got it. The Tigers fell in successive weekends to OSU and Texas before playing Colorado. The thought was that a dispirited Missouri squad, with their national title hopes dashed, would not be up for playing the Buffs.


An angry Tiger squad mauled the Buffs, 58-0.

Two significant differences here. First, the Missouri Tigers, while out of the national title hunt when they dismantled the Buffs, still were playing for the Big 12 North title and national redemption. Not so for the Cowboys, who are out of the national and Big 12 championship picture. Second, this game will not be played in Columbia, but in the friendly confines of Folsom Field. The game will be senior night for the Buffs, played at night before a national audience on ABC.

The Buffs have pride and a bowl bid to play for. The Cowboys are in a trap game between high profile games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

It may be a reach to think the Buffs have a chance against Oklahoma State.

Then again, it was a reach to think that the Buffs had much of a chance against Oklahoma last season.

P – Preparation / Schedule

Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996, Colorado has played its final game of the season on Thanksgiving weekend, with the opponent each year being Nebraska. In even years, such as 2008, when the Buffs play the game in Lincoln, CU faces another conference opponent on senior day at Folsom. With the exception of the lost season of 2000, when the Buffs stumbled to a 3-8 record, every CU senior class which has played its final Big 12 home game against a team other than Nebraska ….. has won.

And some of the wins have been dramatic.

In 1996, the 6th ranked Buffs defeated the 9th ranked Wildcats of Kansas State, 12-0.

In 1998, CU came into the home finale having lost three of their last four games, including two in a row. The seniors, though, were not sent out with a loss, as the Buffs took care of business with a 37-8 win over Iowa State to close out the home slate.

In 2002, the Cyclones were again the victims, bowing 41-27 to CU.

In 2004, it was again KSU’s turn, with Ron Monteilh scoring on a dramatic last second 64-yard touchdown to take down the Wildcats, 38-31.

Even in the 2006 season, a 2-10 debacle, the Buffs were able to send out the senior class with a final home win, this time a 33-16 decision over Iowa State.

In fact, to find a CU loss to a team other than Nebraska in the final home game of the season, you have to go back to 1986, when the Buffs fell in the final home game to Oklahoma.

I’m just sayin’ ….

Oklahoma State is also playing back-to-back road games for the first time this season. In an era when seven and even eight home game schedules are commonplace (everywhere except for Boulder, it seems), facing consecutive road games is becoming less and less prevalent. The Cowboys? Glad you asked. Over the last five seasons, when facing back-to-back road games, Oklahoma State is only 1-6 in the second game.

Hey, we’ll take what we can get!

S – Stats

When I printed out the NCAA stats sheet for Oklahoma State this week, I expected to see a long series of small numbers, and I was not disappointed. The Cowboys rank in the top ten in the nation in six categories, including rushing offense, total offense, and scoring offense.

What I also saw, but which I hadn’t expected to see, were some high numbers from the defense. Oklahoma State is 110th in the nation in pass defense, and a very pedestrian 84th in total defense (your Buffs are 72nd in both pass defense and total defense). Translation: the Cowboys haven’t been dominating their opposition; they have been out-scoring them. The Buffs, if they play like they did in the second half against Iowa State, will have a chance to put some points on the board (in a move not really a surprise to anyone, it was announced that Cody Hawkins will be the starter against OSU, with Tyler Hansen also slated to see some playing time).

Last season, in previewing the Oklahoma game, I set out five factors which all had to fall the Buffs’ way for there to be upset. While they are hardly earth-shattering concepts, they play out the same against OSU this weekend:

1) “Control time of possession”. The Cowboys have too many weapons to be contained all night. The Buffs must not only score, but they must take care of the ball and the clock in doing so;

2) “Special teams must have a great day”. Okay, against Oklahoma last season, that was a hope. This year, it’s a prayer. For Colorado to have a chance, there cannot be missed field goals, missed tackles, and penalties on special teams. There is no way for the “electoral math” to work for the Buffs if this unit continues to struggle;

3) “Reverse the turnovers”. Colorado is minus-five on turnovers (giving up 19; gaining 14). While it is too much to hope that this number will be evened out by the end of the game Saturday, a nice move in the right direction certainly wouldn’t hurt;

4) “Control emotions early”. It’s senior night, so there will be a great deal of energy early. The emotions, however, must be contained and channeled. The Buffs cannot beat the Cowboys with a knockout. It must be done with consistent play throughout the night; and

5) “No long plays”. The Buffs have given up nine plays this season which have gained over 40 yards (the Buffs have all of two, both in the A&M game, both non-scoring plays). Oklahoma State is going to score, of that there is little doubt. What the Buffs have a say in is how early, how quickly, and how often.

Colorado owns a 26-17-1 edge in its series against Oklahoma State, including a 13-7 edge in games played in Boulder, and an 11-3 mark in games played in the past 20 seasons. Quirky games have been played in this series, with some strange final moments.

Here’s hoping for another unexpected result!

I’ll leave the last word to departing senior linebacker Brad Jones. Jones, one of the 16 seniors who survived a recruiting scandal, a change of coaches, and a 2-10 season. “I never thought I’d be as close as I am with these guys,” said Jones of his fellow seniors. “I can literally say that every single person that’s a senior this year is one of my closest friends.”

“We must make it a memorable (game),” said Jones. “And we’ve got the chance – we play Okie State!”

It’s their time. Bowl eligibility is there for the taking.

Go Buffs!

Trivia you Need to Know – Oklahoma State

– Living in the shadow of their more famous and successful rivals from Norman has to be tough on the proud Cowboy fans. While Oklahoma has won seven national championships, Oklahoma State has never finished higher than 5th in the nation, and that was in 1945. As then head coach Jimmy Johnson lamented in 1981, “When you’re at Notre Dame or Alabama, as soon as you win one game, people say you’re great. At Oklahoma State, it takes six wins before anyone notices.”

– Oklahoma State was a charter member of the Southwest Conference in 1915. OSU left, however, in 1925, to join the Missouri Valley Conference, where the Cowboys remained until 1957. After a few seasons as an independent, Oklahoma State joined the Big Seven to form the Big Eight in 1960. The Cowboys were not met with kindness, though, as OSU failed to post a winning record in any of its first 12 seasons in the Big Eight. In 1996, Oklahoma State became a member of the newly formed Big 12 Conference.

– Oklahoma State was originally Oklahoma A&M, so, not surprisingly, the first nickname for OSU teams was the Aggies (or, more precisely, the “Agriculturalists”). For a brief period in the 1920’s, the Aggies were renamed the Tigers, with the school nickname (and school colors) taken from Princeton. The team kept the Princeton colors, but adopted the Cowboy nickname in 1924.

– The Bedlam series with Oklahoma has been dominated by the Sooners, with Oklahoma carrying a series “edge” of 78-17-7. The Cowboys have made the best of some of their wins, however. In 1976, 2001, and 2002, Oklahoma came into the rivalry game with a top five ranking. On each of those occasions, the Sooners were upset by unranked Cowboy squads. (The CU/OSU series record: 26-17-1, CU. In six Big 12 games, CU is 4-2 against OSU, with 2-1 records in both Boulder and Stillwater).

– Thurman Thomas paved the way, but it was Barry Sanders who won the one and only major college football award for OSU, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1988. In ‘88, Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards and 39 touchdowns, both NCAA records. The Cowboys wrapped up a 10-2 season in 1988 with a 62-14 rout of the Wyoming Cowboys in the Holiday Bowl (Brad and I were there, taking the trip down to San Diego after attending the CU/BYU Freedom Bowl in Anaheim). That season, OSU finished with a #11 ranking in the AP poll.

– Famous alumni – football – Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders (Heisman trophy winner), Leslie O’Neal, Hart Lee Dykes.

– Famous alumni – other – Garth Brooks, T. Boone Pickens, Chester Gould (creator of “Dick Tracy”).

This Day in History – November 15th

November 15th

1969 – #18 Mississippi 38, #3 Tennessee 0. Old time college football fans remember 1969 as the year President Richard Nixon proclaimed Texas, in the winner’s locker room, to be the national champions after the #1 Longhorns defeated the #2 Arkansas Razorbacks, 15-14, in their December 6th “Game of the Century”. It is easy to forget, though, that it took losses by #3 Tennessee on November 15th and by #1 Ohio State (to Michigan) on November 22nd to set up the battle between Texas and Arkansas. Tennessee suffered its worst loss in 46 years as Mississippi, led by quarterback Archie Manning, dominated throughout. The Rebels were aided – perhaps – by a preseason comment by Tennessee linebacker Steve Kiner that the Mississippi stars were “mules, not horses.” Mississippi finished 1969 8th in the polls; Tennessee 15th.

1975 – #6 Oklahoma 28, #18 Missouri 27. The previous week, Oklahoma was ranked 2nd in the nation, but was stunned by Kansas, 23-3. The Sooners avoided a second straight upset in edging Missouri, 28-27. Oklahoma raced to a 20-0 first half lead before Missouri stormed back. The Tigers scored 27 unanswered points themselves, and were clinging to a 27-20 lead late in the fourth when, on fourth-and-short, Sooner halfback Joe Washington broke loose on a 71-yard touchdown run. Rather than play for the tie, third-year head coach Barry Switzer went for a two-point conversion and the win. Switzer was rewarded when Washington converted the opportunity. Missouri had a last chance at the upset, but kicker Tim Gibbons missed a 40-yard field goal attempt with 1:02 remaining.

Switzer’s bold move was rewarded handsomely later in 1975 as the Sooners went onto to claim the national championship with a 14-6 win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma, with only the loss to Kansas, rose back to #3 in the polls by the end of the regular season. Losses by #1 Ohio State (to UCLA in the Rose Bowl) and by Texas A&M (to USC in the Liberty Bowl) paved the way for the Sooners to claim the title. It would be fair to say that if the Oklahoma/Missouri game on November 15th had ended in a tie, Oklahoma would not have been in position to claim the national championship six weeks later.

1980 – #18 BYU 45, Colorado State 14. BYU quarterback Jim McMahon continued his assault on the record book in a rout of Colorado State. McMahon, on the heels of his 441 yards passing and five touchdown performance, set four NCAA records and tied two others, including passing yards in a season, total offense in a season, consecutive 300 yard games (nine) and consecutive 400 yard games (five). The 10-1 Cougars won the Western Athletic Conference title with the win, earning a trip to the Holiday Bowl. The 1980 Holiday Bowl, a 46-45 win by BYU over SMU, is considered by many to be the most entertaining bowl game of all time. The bowl win lifted the Cougars to a #12 final ranking.

1986 – Minnesota 20, #2 Michigan 17. In sharp contrast to the decision made by Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer in the 1975 Oklahoma/Missouri game (see above), Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler went conservative with a national championship on the line, and it cost his Wolverines. Undefeated and second ranked, Michigan scored late to make the score 17-16, Minnesota. Opting for the tie instead of the win, the Wolverines were shocked a few moments later when, after a 31-yard run by Gopher Rickey Foggie, Minnesota kicker Chip Lohmiller kicked a 30-yard game winning field goal on the game’s final play. The loss dropped Michigan to 6th in the polls, and out of the national championship race.

2003 – Kansas State 38, #18 Nebraska 9. Winning in Lincoln for the first time since 1968, Kansas State buried #18 Nebraska, 38-9. Wildcat quarterback Eli Robertson threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, as Kansas State scored 31 points in the second half to turn a close game at halftime into a rout. The loss was the worst home loss for the Cornhuskers since Missouri won 31-0 in Lincoln in 1958. The loss seemed to be the last straw for the Nebraska administration, as, despite defeating Colorado, 31-22, two weeks later, Cornhusker head coach Frank Solich was fired, replaced by Bill Callahan from the Oakland Raiders.

November 15th – Colorado – best game on this date

#10 Colorado 24, #17 Kansas 21 – November 15, 1975

As this game is before my time, I cannot give you first-hand information on this game. However, courtesy of the Colorado media guide, I can give you some insights into the contest. I can tell you that the Buffs had a balanced attack, rushing for 230 yards and passing for 189 yards. I can tell you that the game was regionally televised by ABC, marking the first television appearance of the season for the Buffs, and I can tell you that the win gave Colorado an 8-2 record and its highest ranking of the 1975 season – 9th.

The Buffs would go on to defeat Kansas State, 33-7, in the regular season finale, 33-7, but lost to Texas, 38-21, in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl to finish 9-3 and ranked 16th.

Okay, that is not much of a write-up, so I’ll give you the Buffs’ second best game on November 15th.

Colorado 44, Iowa State 10 – November 15, 2003

Colorado extended its road winning streak against Iowa State to ten games in routing the Cyclones in Ames, 44-10. Joel Klatt threw for two first half touchdowns, and Brian Calhoun scored on two short runs as the Buffs raced to a 37-0 halftime lead before cruising to the win.

Just over six minutes into the game, the Buffs were on the board. A 42-yard scoring pass from Klatt to D.J. Hackett gave Colorado an early 7-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, running back Daniel Jolly scored on a two-yard run, and the Buffs had all the points they would need.

Any plans the 36,977 on hand had of going home happy ended with a 23-point Buff onslaught in the second quarter. Two four-yard Brian Calhoun touchdown runs sandwiched a 20-yard Klatt to John Donahoe score and a 26-yard Mason Crosby field goal (one of the extra point attempts was missed). The four scores gave Colorado a commanding 37-0 halftime lead.

The only remaining drama for the second half – Would Iowa State score for the first time in three games? – ended early on, as the Cyclones posted a field goal on their opening drive. Each team had a touchdown thereafter, with the Buffs’ score coming on a one yard run by fullback Lawrence Vickers, resulting in the 44-10 final.

“I felt we played aggressively today on both sides of the ball,” said Gary Barnett. “We went in there and really took care of business in the first half”. As for the defense, which surrendered fewer than 30 points for the third consecutive game, there was renewed enthusiasm. “I think at the beginning of the season we were too worried about making mistakes and we weren’t playing as fast as we needed to play,” said junior defensive tackle Brandon Dabdoub. “Now, we’re playing fast, and when you’re playing fast there’s really nothing (the other team) can do.”

The 5-6 (3-4 in conference play) Buffs would now have a week off before facing Nebraska the day after Thanksgiving. The Cornhuskers were 8-3 overall, but were coming off a humiliating 38-9 loss to Kansas State. Nebraska nominally had nothing to play for but a better bowl game, as the Wildcats had cemented their claim to the Big 12 North title. In fact, the Husker Nation was in turmoil. The Cornhuskers were a very pedestrian 15-12 since the 62-31 debacle at Folsom Field two years earlier, and were faced with the prospect of losing three straight to Colorado for the first time since the Eisenhower administration.

The Buffs, meanwhile, had everything to play for. A 6-6 record. A bowl game. A three game winning streak to build on for 2004. The Buffs would be at home, playing before a home crowd bursting with renewed enthusiasm. A loss, however, would end the Buffs’ season with a 5-7 record, only the third losing season for Colorado in 20 years, but the second for Gary Barnett in four seasons.

The game would be important for both schools, though the biggest story from the contest would not come until the day after the fans went home. [That, of course, being the firing of Nebraska head coach Frank Solich after the 31-22 Nebraska win.]


One Reply to “No. 13 Oklahoma State – The “Haves” and the “Have-Nots””

  1. How many times has Goodman hit an upright? It has to be a record! Had those gone in….

    But whether a “near miss” or a “near make” he shouldn’t be that close to the upright.

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