October 4th – Boulder      No. 5 Texas 38, Colorado 14

Colorado failed to take advantage of first half opportunities against 5th-ranked Texas in their 2008 Homecoming game. Meanwhile, the Longhorns took full advantage of their first half opportunities in building a 21-0 halftime lead on the way to a 38-14 win over the Buffs. Colorado kicker Aric Goodman tied a school record in missing three field goal attempts – all in the first half – as Texas slowly pulled away from the Buffs before a sellout Homecoming crowd of 53,927.

In an opening maddeningly similar to the Florida State game the week before, the Buffs allowed the opposition to take an early lead. Against the Seminoles, the Buffs fumbled on the third play from scrimmage, giving Florida State a short field and an opening which led to a 7-0 deficit just three minutes into the game.

Against Texas, the Buffs took the opening kickoff and gained all of two yards on three plays before a Matt DiLallo punt gave the ball to the Longhorns at their 31-yard line. On third-and-six, the CU defense seemingly had Texas quarterback Colt McCoy surrounded, but at the last moment McCoy found running back Chris Ogbonnaya in the left flat. With the Buff defenders swarming to get to McCoy, Ogbonnaya was left alone to sprint down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. 7-0, Texas, just 1:43 into the game.

Seemingly undaunted by the early score, the Buffs next put together their best drive of the first half. Colorado covered 62 yards in 11 plays, reaching the Texas 18-yard line before stalling. Sophomore kicker Aric Goodman, who missed his only attempt in the Florida State game, was wide right on his 36-yard attempt, and the ball went back to the Longhorns.

The Longhorns’ second possession was textbook college football. Texas held the ball for ten plays and faced only two third downs on the drive (both third-and-one) in covering 80 yards to take a 14-0 lead. Colt McCoy hit Jordan Shipley from 16 yards out to complete the drive, and, with four minutes still remaining to be played in the first quarter, images of the 70-3 carnage in the 2005 Big 12 title game began to materialize in the minds of the CU faithful.

After a three-and-out from the Colorado offense, the CU defense gave the Buffs new life. Sophomore cornerback Jalil Brown picked off a Colt McCoy offering at the Colorado 27-yard line, returning the interception 57 yards to the Texas 16. The Buffs’ offense was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, however. Three plays gained zero yards, and on the third play of the second quarter, kicker Aric Goodman suffered his second miss of the game, as his 43-yard attempt hit the left upright. Goodman’s miserable night continued on the Buffs’ next possession. The Colorado offense was able to get as close as the Longhorn 27, but Goodman’s third try of the evening, this time from 44 yards out, went wide right.

With less than five minutes to go before halftime, Texas put together a 66-yard touchdown drive for their third score of the game. Chris Ogbonnaya scored his second touchdown, this time on a 13 yard run, to give the Longhorns an insurmountable 21-0 halftime lead.

The Colorado defense was able to hold the Longhorns in their opening possession of the second half, but on the Buffs’ second play of the third quarter, a handoff from Cody Hawkins to Rodney Stewart was fumbled, setting up Texas at the CU 18 yard line. Four plays later, the score was up to 28-0, with running back Cody Johnson doing the honors from a yard out.

The only remaining questions now for those who were a party to the first sellout at Folsom Field since the 2005 Nebraska game were how high the score would go, and whether the Buffs would be able to score at all. Midway through the third quarter, the Homecoming crowd did get an answer to the latter question.

Junior cornerback Cha’pelle Brown intercepted a tipped Colt McCoy pass at the Texas 27. Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins quickly threw three incompletions, setting up a fourth down. Rather than try a 44-yard field goal, the Buffs went for a first down, and were rewarded when Hawkins hit Josh Smith for a 17-yard gain to the Texas ten yard line. Two plays later, Hawkins hit junior fullback Jake Behrens for a seven yard score, and the Buffs were on the board, 28-7, late in the third quarter.

It took the Longhorns only four plays to answer. A 51 yard run by Chris Ogbonnaya set up a four yard touchdown run by Cody Johnson, and any flickering hopes of a Colorado comeback were officially extinguished with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter.

The outcome of the game decided, Texas did score on a 46-yard field goal, and the Buffs a touchdown, in an inconsequential fourth quarter. The Colorado score, culminating an 89-yard drive engineered by backup quarterback Matt Ballenger, came on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Ballenger to senior wide receiver Patrick Williams. The Buffs’ final points came with 1:54 remaining, making the final score 38-14.

“We had a hard time running the football and a hard time getting any consistency with anything,” said Dan Hawkins after the game. “If we can make some field goals, it’s 14-9 and you got a little more momentum, your spirits are a little bit higher and you have a little bit better opportunity to do some stuff there.”

On the 24-point loss, sophomore quarterback Cody Hawkins spoke for the offense. “You have to score points, especially in the red-zone,” said Hawkins. “Regardless of if we got the field goals or not, we weren’t playing our best and weren’t getting the job done.” Of the defensive effort, senior defensive tackle George Hypolite spoke for the defense, which surrendered 431 yards of total offense to Texas. “A lot of the things we gave up on defense were not assignments, it was just missed tackles,” said the CU captain. “We have to clean it up defensively.”

Colorado mustered only 266 yards of total offense on the night, with only 49 yards rushing. Cody Hawkins completed only 13 of 33 passes for 118 yards, and was sacked twice. Hawkins’ counterpart, Colt McCoy, hit on 23 of 30 passes, and while the Buffs did intercept McCoy twice and sack him three times, the Texas quarterback did connect for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

The loss dropped Colorado to 3-2 overall, 0-1 in Big 12 play. Up next? Kansas, ranked 16th in the country after a 35-33 win over Iowa State which saw the Jayhawks rally from a 20-0 halftime deficit. Kansas was 4-1, and would be playing at home mindful of their 19-14 win over the Buffs in Boulder in 2007.

“As you play these really good football teams, the margin for error is really, really slim,” said Dan Hawkins. “That’s just the nature of it.”

Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Positives to take from a 38-14 home loss to Texas.

Hmmm ….

Okay, let’s try these.

1. The Buffs held the Longhorns to their lowest point total of the year.

2. The Buffs scored more points against the Longhorns than any other team this year.

3. The Buffs committed a season low three penalties.

4. The Colorado defense registered four sacks, after posting three total in the past three games.

5. The Texas offense had only given up three sacks this season before giving up four to the Buffs.

6. The Texas offensive output was 51 yards lower than their season average; their point total 11 points below.

7. The Colorado offense had five plays of over 20 yards in length – after posting only nine such plays in the first four games.

8. Other than an ankle sprain to running back Darrell Scott, the Buffs emerged from the game relatively injury free.

9. After a squall came through an hour before the game, it was a beautiful night for football.

10. Nebraska got thumped at home by Missouri, 52-17, losing at home to the Tigers for the first time since 1978.

Fine, the last two were for me, but it’s hard coming up with ten positive things to say after a 24-point “and it wasn’t really that close” home loss. Very few felt the Buffs had more than an outside chance of pulling off an upset akin to the win over Oklahoma in 2007, but many of us felt (expected!) that the Buffs would be able to perform more consistently.

The offensive line is a mess. No doubt about it. With Erick Faatagi and Sione Tau lost to academics and Mike Iltis lost for the season to injury before the first game, the offensive line was depleted from the start. Then, with starters Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner and Ryan Miller lost for the season due to injuries in the past two weeks, the situation became critical. Redshirt freshman Matt Bahr had his first start against Texas, with fellow redshirt freshmen Ethan Adkins and Shawn Daniels playing their first snaps as Buffs. Certainly a baptism by fire against one of the best defensive lines in the country.

Much will be said and written about Cody Hawkins being ineffective at quarterback, and certainly the sophomore must shoulder his share of the blame (especially for the fumbles), but it is difficult to have a successful passing game without a complimentary running game, and it is impossible to have an effective running game without a productive offensive line. Until or unless the offensive line gels into a cohesive unit, the Colorado offense will continue to struggle, regardless of who is calling the plays under center.

The Colorado defense, despite the 39 and 38 point totals posted in the two losses, has been a pleasant surprise overall. The pass defense, which was supposed to be the vulnerable area for the Buffs, has generated seven interceptions and has not, with a few notable exceptions, given up the big pass play. The rushing defense, conversely, so far has been a disappointment. The Buffs are 89th in the nation in rush defense, after being ranked 31st in 2007. The Colorado defense has played well enough for the Buffs to be 5-0.

And special teams …..

No, I shouldn’t say anything about special teams. It was a long, lonely 11-hour drive back from Boulder on Sunday, and I might take off on a fatigue-induced rant.

We’ll just leave it at this: The grade here is south of “C”.

Still, I am cautiously optimistic as I slowly start to turn my attention towards Kansas. There is opportunity next Saturday in Lawrence for redemption. There is opportunity for upset.

On the other hand, by the end of the season I could be wrapping up a number of silk purses for Christmas.


Pregame Preview

Texas Preview – 2008

In 2007, Colorado was 2-2 in non-conference play. The Buffs’ first Big 12 assignment last season? Take on an undefeated team ranked 3rd in the nation, Oklahoma.

Before the 2007 Oklahoma game, I wrote about the “Five Steps to An Upset” in detailing what I thought it would take for the Buffs to pull off a win over the Sooners (to check it out, just head over to the Archived Seasons on the left side of the website, click on “2007? and “#3 Oklahoma”). I can’t claim that I predicted the upset, but many of the same requirements (no turnovers, ball control, great special teams) will be in play against the #5 Longhorns.

In hopes of lightning striking twice, let’s review this week’s “T.I.P.S.”

T – Talent

For the third straight game, the Buffs will lineup against a team with superior overall talent. Texas under Mack Brown has enjoyed a string of recruiting classes which are the envy of the nation, and will deploy a lineup in Boulder which is littered with future NFL starters. In the past five seasons, the Longhorns have produced:

the #10 recruiting class nationally (2004),

the #13 class (2005),

the #3 class (2006),

the #3 class again (2007), and,

the 16th ranked class (2008 – which would have certainly been higher if a certain running back had committed to play in Austin).

Want more? In nine years under Mack Brown, the Longhorns have produced more top ten draft picks (8) than any other team in the country (USC is second with 7). In case you are wondering – the highest CU draft pick in the past nine seasons was Daniel Graham, taken in the first round by New England in 2002 (21st overall).

Do the Longhorns, with all of that talent at their disposal, have an Achilles’ heel? You have to look long and hard to find a weakness, but yes, there is one. The Texas pass defense is ranked 100th in the nation after the non-conference portion of the 2008 schedule. While this may in part be attributable to the opposition passing early and often as the Longhorns posted large leads, it is not an anomaly. In 2007, for the entire season, Texas ranked 109th in the nation in pass defense. The Longhorns gave up over 275 yards per game last season, and only one starter from last season, senior cornerback Ryan Palmer, returns in 2008.

A small chink in the armor, I grant you, but if Colorado is to stay with Texas this weekend, the success will have to come through the air. With a makeshift line and a quarterback who has struggled when pressured, this will be a tall order for the Buffs.

I – Intangibles

All you need to do is look at the Top 25 this week compared to the Top 25 last week to see that anything goes in college football. Oregon State shocked the nation in upsetting USC last Thursday. Not to be outdone, Mississippi took care of #4 Florida, Alabama thumped pre-season #1 Georgia, and Michigan surprised Wisconsin – and that was just in the Top 10.

There will be many comparisons this week between the Buffs’ game against the Longhorns and the upset Colorado put on Oklahoma a year ago this weekend (see introduction, above). This is good news and bad news for CU fans. The good news is that the Buffs’ upset of the Sooners, coupled with the Buffs’ upset of the Mountaineers a few weeks ago, and the rash of upsets which have pock-marked the landscape of college football this season, means that there are no givens under the lights this Saturday in Boulder.

The bad news is that the Texas players and their coaches are likely very well aware of this fact. You can bet that the CU/OU game will be mentioned more than once this week in practice in Austin, as the Longhorns are being told to ignore the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma a week from Saturday. “Take care of business in Boulder” will be the rallying cry this week.

Plus, if the Longhorns needed any additional incentive to take this game seriously, the UT coaches can simply play back the tape of the Texas/Kansas State game from a year ago. The same weekend last year – the same day when the Sooners were falling in Boulder – the Longhorns were being upset in Austin. Undefeated and ranked 7th in the nation, Texas fell at home to unranked Kansas State, 41-21.

Any positives which the Buffs may have drawn from surprise will likely be mitigated by the focus of the favorite. The Colorado players enter the game with the knowledge that they can, if they play to their potential, compete with any team in the nation.

Unfortunately, the Texas players are already aware of this.

P – Preparation / Schedule

As noted, the Longhorns play Oklahoma next weekend in the Red River Shootout. As Oklahoma is playing Baylor this weekend, the odds are very good that Texas will be facing the #1 team in the nation in Dallas on October 11th. If the Sooners continue their winning ways, the Buffs could face a strange phenomenon the remainder of the 2008 season.

We’ll call it the “Sooner Effect”.

As you know, the Longhorns, after they play the Buffs, face Oklahoma.

Next weekend, Colorado plays Kansas. Guess who Kansas plays the weekend after playing Colorado?

You guessed it. Oklahoma.

The Buffs’ next opponent after Kansas is Kansas State. Guess who Kansas State plays the weekend after playing Colorado.

Yup. Oklahoma.

The same fate awaits Texas A&M and Oklahoma State in November: play Colorado; then play Oklahoma. Of the seven teams the Buffs will face in the Big 12 this season (not counting the regular season-ending game against Nebraska), five will face #1 Oklahoma in the next game after playing the Buffs.

Will the fact that the Buffs’ Big 12 opponents almost every weekend will have a date with the nation’s #1 team looming on the horizon have any impact on their ability to focus on Colorado?

Impossible to say.

I’ll take any advantage, though, that I can get.

One other slight advantage for the Buffs in the scheduling department. This week, six Big 12 teams are ranked. In order, they are Oklahoma (#1), Missouri (#4), Texas (#5), Texas Tech (#7), Kansas (#16), and Oklahoma State (#21). Only one team out these six has to face the other five this season – Texas. With five of their eight conference games against ranked teams (and with Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech the next four games after playing Colorado), the Texas players could be forgiven for looking past Colorado.

Let’s hope that is the case.

S – Stats

In case you missed it, sophomore offensive tackle Ryan Miller’s season is over. Miller suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of the Florida State game, and his prognosis went from “four-to-six weeks” to “at least six weeks” to “next season” in just a few days. Fortunately, Miller will likely be granted a medical red-shirt, meaning that he will still have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Unfortunately, the offensive line, already hurting from the preseason losses of Erick Faatagi (academics), Sione Tau (academics), and Mike Iltis (injury), as well as by the loss last week of starting guard Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner for the remainder of the season (injury), has become woefully thin. Red-shirt freshman Blake Behrens stepped in for Miller in Jacksonville. According to offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, Behrens held his own against Florida State, but good many not be good enough to hold off the Longhorns.

Sad Sack Stats. Texas is #1 in the nation at sacking the quarterback, averaging four sacks a game. Colorado has registered only seven sacks on the season – and five of those were against Colorado State. Feel free to read that again – two sack by the Colorado defense in the last three games. That discrepancy, if it holds true Saturday, will prove costly to the Buffs (and will be very frustrating for their fans).

Turnovers. The Buffs are a break even team so far in 2008 – received eight; given up eight. For every big play generated by the defense, Colorado’s offense has returned the favor. No need to state the obvious here. Three huge turnovers factored mightily into the Colorado upset of Oklahoma last season. It will likely take that many this year – and perhaps more – to defeat the Longhorns this weekend.

Another stat which must improve this weekend: the vertical game. Dan Hawkins has indicated he likes to see the number of runs and passes which go for over 20 yards to be in the “70’s or 80’s” by year’s end. Last season, the Buffs produced 58 such plays. So far this season? Nine. That translates to only 27 for the season (in 2006, the 2-10 season, the Buffs had 35). Clearly, the Buffs need to make some magic happen on offense if Colorado is to stay with the potent Longhorn offense.

One last stat to send you off with a good taste in your mouth. While it is certainly true that Colorado has struggled at times during the non-conference portion of the schedule, and while it is certainly true that Colorado’s statistics pale in comparison to their brethren in the Big 12 (the Buffs rank in the top half of the conference in only three of 17 categories – pass defense; pass efficiency defense; and total defense), there is reason for optimism.

The Buffs are 3-1, and accomplished their record against the 50th-most difficult schedule in the Big 12.

Not so impressive?

No other team in the Big 12 is even in the top 75.

The Buffs are battle tested, and have come through in close games.

There is certainly cause for hope, fellow Buff fans. Be a part of the 53,000 on hand Saturday to cheer on the home team.

Remember the Sooners! 27-24!

Go Buffs!

Trivia you Need to Know


Texas has won four national championships – 1963, 1969, 1970, and 2004. The head coach for the first three titles was Hall of Fame member Darrell Royal. Royal went 89-17-2 between 1961-70, and the Longhorns won 76% of his games (167-47-5) during his tenure from 1957-76. What, though, do Texas fans try and forget? Darrell Royal was a Sooner! Royal was an All-American quarterback for rival Oklahoma (1946-‘49).

Famous Darrell Royal quotes:

“Only three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad”;

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”;

“When you get to the endzone, act like you’ve been there before”; and

“He’s quicker than a hiccup”.

In 1969, during the 100th anniversary season for college football, Texas played Arkansas in what was (at least until Oklahoma/Nebraska two years later), the “Game of the Century”. Ranked #1 and #2, Texas erased a 14-0 deficit to win, 15-14. Though bowl games were yet to be played, President Richard Nixon, who attended the game, proclaimed Texas to be the national champions. Fortunately for Nixon and the Longhorns, Texas went on to defeat Notre Dame, 21-17, in the Cotton Bowl to cap a perfect 12-0 season.

Deciphering the origin of the Texas nickname does not take much effort. The fun part of the Longhorn story is how “Bevo” got its name. In 1916, for Texas team manager came up with the idea for a live mascot (the “Longhorn” name had been used since 1903). Some Texas A&M students stole the new mascot, and branded the score of the 1915 Texas/Texas A&M game on the animal – a 13-0 A&M victory. Not to be outdone, the Texas students modified the “13? into a “B”, adding an “E” and a “V” before the 0. (Bevo was also the name of a non-alcoholic beer at the time). “Bevo” has been the Longhorn nickname ever since – we are now up to Bevo XIV, who joined the team in 2004.

The 2004 season was capped with the Longhorns’ fourth national championship. Heisman trophy runner up Vince Young topped the previous two Heisman winners, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, and their USC Trojans, 41-38, in a thrilling Rose Bowl. USC held a 38-26 lead with 6:42 left, but two touchdown drives led by Young gave the Longhorns the title. Even though Texas was undefeated going into the game, and was riding a 19-game winning streak overall, few gave Texas much of a chance playing USC in Pasadena, where the Trojans were being looked upon as being one of the greatest football teams of all time.

In addition to four national titles, Texas has won 27 conference titles (25 SWC; 2 Big 12). The Longhorns boast pages of All-Americans, has had two Heisman trophy winners (Earl Campbell, 1974; Ricky Williams, 1998), and has played in 47 bowl games, winning 24 (and tying two).

Famous alumni (football): Heisman trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams; quarterback Vince Young; linebacker Tommy Nobis; quarterbacks Major Applewhite and Chris Simms; wide receivers Roy Williams, Johnny “Lam” Jones, and Johnny Walker.

Famous alumni (other): Walter Cronkite (news anchor); Tom Landry (NFL head coach); Matthew McConaughey (actor); Roger Clemens (baseball).

This Day in History – October 4th

1969 – #8 Purdue 36, #17 Stanford 35. In a battle between two future NFL quarterbacks, the efforts of Purdue’s Mike Phipps bested those of Stanford’s Jim Plunkett. Phipps, who would finish second in the Heisman voting to Oklahoma running back Steve Owens, passed for 429 yards and five touchdowns in leading the Boilermakers over the Cardinal. Plunkett, who would go on to win the Heisman trophy in 1970, passed for four touchdowns and 355 yards.

1975 – #1 Oklahoma 21, #19 Colorado 20. Colorado quarterback David Williams hit Billy Waddy for an eight yard touchdown pass with 1:23 left to pull the Buffs to within one point of the #1 ranked Sooners. Eschewing the two-point conversion, CU head coach Bill Mallory elected to go for the tie, but kicker Tom MacKenzie, who had earlier missed a field goal attempt, shanked the extra point try. The near miss cost the Sooners the #1 position in the polls, but Oklahoma would bounce back to claim the national championship at the end of the season. [Note: Colorado has never defeated a #1 team, but has twice knocked Oklahoma from the top spot with near misses. In addition to the ‘75 game, the Buffs, in 1957, lost to Oklahoma, 14-13, knocking the Sooners down to #2.]

1980 – #16 Florida State 18, #3 Nebraska 14. Cornhusker quarterback Jeff Quinn fumbled at the Seminole ten-yard line with 12 seconds left, allowing Florida State to escape with the upset. Both schools would go on to conclude the season in the top ten, with Florida State finishing 5th, Nebraska 7th.

1997 – Kentucky 40, #20 Alabama 34, OT. A 26-yard touchdown pass from Kentucky quarterback Tim Crouch to wide receiver Craig Yeast after Alabama fumbled in its overtime possession gave the Wildcats their first win over the Crimson Tide in 75 years. The win gave Kentucky an all-time mark against Alabama of 2-31-1. Kentucky would go on to a 5-6 record under first-year head coach Hal Mumme, while the Crimson Tide would finish its first season under Mike DuBose 4-7 (DuBose would last only three more seasons in Tuscaloosa).

2003 – Mississippi 20, #24 Florida 17. Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning out-dueled his Florida counterpart, Chris Leak, as the Rebels defeated the Gators for the second consecutive year. Manning would finish third in the Heisman balloting, coming in behind Oklahoma quarterback Jason White and Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Gators finished 2003 8-5 and ranked 24th. Mississippi, conversely, completed its ‘03 campaign with a 10-3 record, good enough for a #13 final ranking.

October 4th – Colorado – best game to date

Colorado 30, Indiana 7 – October 4, 1969.

Two events were noteworthy in the early October game in Boulder in 1969, an easy win for the Buffs. First, the game was played after an early season snow which continued throughout the game. Second, Colorado head coach Eddie Crowder switched quarterback Bobby Anderson to tailback, with Anderson responding with 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Bobby Anderson would go on to lead the Buffs to a 9-3 record and a #16 final ranking after posting three touchdowns and 254 rushing yards in a 47-33 win over Alabama in the Liberty Bowl. Despite not starting at tailback until October, Anderson was a consensus All-American at the position. Amongst his many honors: first-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos; a member of the Colorado “All-Century team”; and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Anderson’s #11, along with Byron White’s #24 and Joe Romig’s #67, are the only three retired numbers in Colorado history.


4 Replies to “No. 5 Texas – A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear”

  1. Nice little site you have here. Enjoy the weekly trivia.
    One thing, I believe UTs most recent NC was the 2005 season, as opposed to the 2004 season.

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