In Case You Were Wondering

(Editor’s Note: The month of June will be bleak for Colorado fans. Not because there will be little news, but because most of the news will be hard to take. The preseason magazines will be coming out, and it will be hard to find a prognosticator who will pick CU to finish anywhere other than last in the Pac-12 South, with few pundits willing to give CU more than two or three wins on the season. As a result, we’ll take a break from the news from time to time this month to bring you some interesting notes, trivia, and highlights about the game we all love so much).


A little history

– Take that, Nick Saban, department … In 1899, tiny Sewanee (a.k.a. The University of the South), played five games in six days, taking on Tulane, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi. The total score for those five games? 91-0. Oh, and by the way, Sewanee won all five of those games.

– In 1951, the University of San Francisco Dons had a 9-0 record, had the nation’s leading rusher and scorer (Ollie Matson), a great defense, and a young SID by the name of Pete Rozelle. Yet, because players for the 14th-ranked Dons refused to accept a bowl bid which would require them to leave two black teammates behind, the small, cash-strapped school dropped football. Forever.

– The entire starting lineup from Montana State’s 1941 team perished in World War II.

And a little CU history (1950-70) …

– On November 17, 1951, Colorado made its first appearance on national television (NBC). The Buffs made a good impression, taking out the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, 36-14. In the first televised game played in Boulder, on October 25, 1958 (ABC), the Buffs, again taking on Nebraska, were again victorious, this time by the score of 27-16.

– Many remember that it was Notre Dame which broke Oklahoma’s NCAA record 47 consecutive game win streak in 1957. Colorado, though, did have a shining moment against Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners. In 1952, the Buffs tied the Sooners, 21-21, in a game played in Boulder. It was one of only two blemishes in Oklahoma’s run of 75 game unbeaten conference streak between 1946-59.

– On January 1, 1957, Colorado enjoyed its first victory in a bowl game. The Buffs, who had fallen to Rice in the 1938 Cotton Bowl, defeated Clemson, 27-21, in the Orange Bowl. The 1956 Buffs were invited to the Orange Bowl because Oklahoma (which won the national title) was ineligible due to NCAA violations. Colorado finished the season with an 8-2-1 record and a No. 20 national ranking.

But don’t forget the stats …

– Colorado’s run of 143 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press poll between 1989-97 remains in the top ten list all-time. The streak is 8th on the all-time list, with Nebraska’s run of 348 weeks from 1981-2002 (started the week after a victory over CU) is almost twice that of the No. 2 streak on the list (Florida State, 212 weeks, 1989-2001). During their 143 week streak, the Buffs enjoyed a school record 17 straight weeks in the top ten in 1994.

– No Colorado coach has posted an a winning record all-time against ranked teams. Rick Neuheisel came the closest, going 11-12 in his four years in Boulder. Gary Barnett went 9-12; Bill McCartney 20-31 (Jon Embree closed out his two year run with an 0-8 record against ranked teams).

– Since going 10-0-1 in season openers between 1988-98 (the tie coming in the 1990 season opener against Tennessee), Colorado has gone 6-8 in season openers, including losses in three of the last four seasons.


A little history …

– Want a record which will never be beaten? Try this: From midway through the 1938 season, through all of the 1939 season, and to the fourth game of the 1940 season, Tennessee went 17 straight regular season games without being scored upon. Even though the Volunteers went the entire 1939 regular season with nothing but shutout victories, they were not the No. 1 team in the nation heading into bowl season, coming in at No. 2 behind Texas A&M (Tennessee was ranked No. 4 as late as November 27th). The Volunteers then lost to No. 3 USC, 14-0 in the Rose Bowl, to fall to No. 3 at the end of the season.

– Colorado has had seven straight non-winning seasons, a school record. The Buffs have a ways to go to match the NCAA record, however. The Rice Owls went from 1963 to 1992 without posting a winning record, a span of 28 non-winning seasons.

– On the flip side, Penn State had a record 49 straight non-losing seasons, stretching from 1939 to 1987.

And a little CU history (1930-50) …

– On November 10, 1934, Colorado adopted the nickname “Buffaloes” at its annual homecoming game. The name was chose after a contest was run in the Silver & Gold newspaper. There were over 1,000 entries, with a $5 prize going to the winner. Prior to 1934, Colorado teams were known by a number of different names. Officially the “Silver and Gold”, other nicknames included Silver Helmets, Yellow Jackets, Hornets, Arapahoes, Big Horn, Grizzlies and Frontiersmen. (For the record, the “Buffs” went on to defeat Utah in their first game as the “Buffaloes”, winning their homecoming game, 7-6).

– On November 6, 1937, Bryon “Whizzer” White single-handedly defeats Utah. White returned a punt 97 yards for a score, scored his second touchdown on a 57-yard run, kicked a 15-yard field goal and both extra points in a 17-7 victory. Later that month, White’s number, 24, was retired. White finished the season as CU’s first All-American, topping off his career by becoming the third CU player to earn a Rhodes scholarship.

– In 1948, Colorado became a member of the Big Seven, joining Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Missouri. CU’s first victory as a member of the Big Seven came against Nebraska, upsetting the Cornhuskers, 19-6, giving Dallas Ward his first victory as CU head coach.

But don’t forget the stats …

– Only two of the top ten tacklers in CU history have played in the past decade. Can you name them? Barry Remington (1982-86) tops the all-time list, with 493 tackles. Fourth on the list is Jordon Dizon (2004-07), with 440 tackles. Coming in at No. 9 is Thaddaeus Washington, with 338 tackles between 2003-06.

– The all-time sack leaders are also devoid of recent players. Alfred Williams tops the all-time list, with 35. The only 21st century member of the top ten list is Abraham Wright, who had 21 sacks between 2004-06, good enough for 5th place on the all-time list at CU.

– One area of the record book which has seen recent entries is in kickoff returns (and you can probably guess why). Of the top ten all-time kickoff returners in CU history, four have played in the past ten years – No. 2 Terrence Wheatley (1,350 yards), No. 3 Josh Smith (1,276 yards), No. 7 Brian Lockridge (968 yards), and No. 9 Stephone Robinson (867 yards)


A little history …

– The first collegiate 4,000-yard career rusher was Ed Marinaro (remember Hill Street Blues?) from Cornell (4,715, 1969-71). The first 5,000-yard rusher was two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin of Ohio State (5,177; 1972-75). The first 6,000-yard rusher was Tony Dorsett from Pitt (6,082; 1973-76).

– You likely knew that the Nebraska Cornhuskers were previously known as the Bugeaters, and that the Stanford Cardinal were formerly the Indians, but did you know that the Texas Tech Red Raiders were once known as the Matadors? Or that CU’s opponent in 2014, the Massachusetts Minutemen, were formerly known as the Redmen?

– In 1987, Oklahoma went 11-0 during the regular season. In doing so, the Sooners became the only team in NCAA history to lead the nation in total offense (499.7 yards per game); scoring offense (43.5 points per game); total defense (208.1 yards per game) and scoring defense (7.5 points per game) in the same year. Unfortunately for the Sooners (who defeated CU 24-6 that season) were not able to seal the deal, falling 20-14 to Miami in the Orange Bowl to lose out on the national championship.

And a little CU history (1910-1930) …

– CU is currently in search of a new athletic director. The new AD will be only the seventh in CU history. The first, Harry Carlson (yes, of Carlson gym fame) was the athletic director from 1927-64).

– Colorado Stadium, the present site of Folsom Field, was dedicated on October 11, 1924, with a 39-0 rout of Regis College. The game was actually the second home game of the season, as CU closed out playing at Gamble Field the week before with a 31-0 win over Western State.  The new field, built adjacent to the new Carlson Gym, had an original capacity of 26,000, significantly better than the 9,000 or so who could watch a game at Gamble Field.

– From 1910 to 1937, Colorado was a member of the Rocky Mountain (Faculty) Athletic Conference. In those years, CU won the conference eight times. The best season came in 1923, when Colorado went 9-0, out-scoring opponents 280-27, or an average score of 31-3.

But don’t forget the stats …

– CU has had 14 1,000-yard rushers in its history. The first was Kayo Lam in 1935, with 1,043 yards. The most recent was Rodney Stewart, with 1,318 yards in 2010.

– The Buffs did not have its first of 13 2,000-yard passers until Kordell Stewart pulled it off with 2,109 yards in 1992. The most recent was Tyler Hansen, who had 2,883 yards in 2011.

– Looking for 1,000-yard receivers? Even more rare, with only six in CU history. Ironically enough, the first season with a 1,000-yard receiver for the Buffs had two, with Charles Johnson going for 1,149 yards in 1992, joined by Michael Westbrook, with 1,060 that same year. The last Buff receiver over 1,000 yards in a season was back in 2003, when D.J. Hackett posted 1,013 (paging Mr. Richardson … ).


A little history …

– You probably knew that the first collegiate football game took place in 1869, in a game between Rutgers and Princeton. But did you know … that the game played that day bore little resemblance to today’s game? There were 25 players per side, and the game was scored like soccer, with each goal counting one point, or a “game”, with the first to six “games” declared the winner. Rutgers won the first collegiate game by a score of 6-to-4.

– In 1880, the scrimmage line was first established, leading some to believe that the game really originated that year, not in 1869.

– You probably knew that the game became so brutal that calls were made at the turn of the century to outlaw football. And you probably knew that President Theodore Roosevelt helped save the game. But did you know … what changes were made to make the game safer? In addition to banning the Wedge or “V” blocking lineup, in which the ball carrier hid behind an armada of blockers, the game was made more “open” by the creation of the neutral zone at the line of scrimmage, and the legalization of the forward pass.

– You may have known that the University of Pittsburgh was the first school to wear numbers on their jerseys, back in 1908 … But did you know … that the first school to put names on the backs of jerseys was the University of Maryland – and that innovation didn’t come along until 1961?

And a little CU history … the early years

– The first victory for Colorado came against Colorado Springs A.A. in 1891. CU won 24-4, the first win for the program … coming after eight losses.

– Colorado’s first game against Colorado State came in the 1892 season, the third year for the program. The game was played in Ft. Collins, and the “Buffs” (not named that yet, of course) took care of business by the score of 70-6. The victory gave CU a 3-2 season record, the first winning season in school history (after opening 0-4 in 1890 and 1-4 in 1891).

– In 1894, in the Buffs’ fifth season ever, and its second season as a member of the Colorado Football Association (also known as the Colorado Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), Colorado won its first conference championship, going 5-0 in conference play, and 8-1 overall.

– The first game for CU against a team from outside of the state came in 1898, when the Buffs lost to Nebraska, 23-10. The first victory over an out-of-state opponent came in CU’s second attempt, beating Wyoming, 10-6, in 1900. (Colorado got the best of Nebraska a few years later, in 1904, in the Buffs third attempt at beating the Bugeaters).

But don’t forget the stats …

– There aren’t too many Buff fans around who can say that they remember the best rushing day in CU history. In came during the 1971 season, when Charlie Davis went for 342 yards on 34 carries against Oklahoma State. The Buffs that season went on to a 10-2 record and a No. 3 final ranking, finishing behind only Nebraska and Oklahoma (the two teams to beat the Buffs) in the polls.

– While there may not be a large number of fans who remember Charlie Davis’ efforts, there are a larger number of fans who recall the best receiving day in CU history. That came in 2011, when Paul Richardson caught 11 passes for 284 yards against Cal. Richardson smashed the old record of 222 yards, first set by Walter Stanley in 1981 (v. Texas Tech) then later matched by Rae Carruth in 1996 (v. Missouri).

– Okay, so we have the rushing and receiving records. How about passing? You might be able to win a bar bet by knowing the record is held by Tyler Hansen. While Paul Richardson grabbed the headlines with his 284 yard effort, Hansen also set a new standard, passing for 474 yards against Cal in the 2011 game  (28-for-49, with three touchdowns and no interceptions).


— More football trivia, CU trivia, and CU stats will be added each week. Let me know if there is a stat or historical note which interests you. Drop me a note at … anytime!




7 Replies to “In Case You Were Wondering”

  1. I saw all those games in which the offensive records were set in person, especially the ’71 game with OSU. That day, Crowder called a “swinging gate” play, where Kenny Johnson knelt by the ball on one hashmark as if to tie his shoe, then picked it up and lateraled to Davis who was standing 20 yards away behind a wall of offensive linemen. Play went for 69 yds. and the fans went wild!

  2. The preseason putrid pundits don’t bother me a bit. They do very little research…..reaffirmed by the latest article about the return of last season’s production. Everything from them is based on last season. You could train a monkey to equate these prognosticator’s “production” and I’m sure someone has already written some software that will do a better job.
    No place for the Buffs to go but up….and when the time comes that we do it will be “upsets” because none of these idiots will have predicted it.

    1. The game was played in February, 1893, but is recorded in the CU annals as being part of the 1892 season.

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