CU at Its Best – No. 12         November 19, 1994          No. 7 Colorado 41, Iowa State 20

Note … This is the ninth in a series of the best CU games of the past 35 seasons. We will be counting down the top 20 games, with a new game each weekend leading up to the season opener against Hawai’i.

Previous submissions:

CU at Its Best No. 13 – December 25, 1998         Colorado 51, Oregon 43 (Aloha Bowl)

CU at Its Best No. 14 – September 14, 1985         Colorado 21, Oregon 17

CU at Its Best No. 15 – November 18, 1995          No. 9 Colorado 27, No. 7 Kansas State 17

CU at Its Best No. 16 – September 29, 2007        Colorado 27, No. 3 Oklahoma 24

CU at Its Best No. 17 –  August 30, 2003              Colorado 42, No. 23 Colorado State 35

CU at Its Best No. 18 – September 16, 1989         No. 8 Colorado 38, No. 10 Illinois 7

CU at Its Best No. 19 – December 31, 1999           Colorado 62, No. 25 Boston College 28 ( Bowl)

CU at Its Best No. 20 – September 2, 1995           No. 14 Colorado 43, No. 21 Wisconsin 7



November 19th – Boulder                       No. 7 Colorado 41, Iowa State 20

A game between a 9-1 team and an 0-9-1 to finish off the regular season would normally not bear much attention.  The 41-20 final score, after the Buffs nursed a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter, would not have merited much notice nationally.

For local writers, though, the game could presented a year’s worth of headlines:

“Christian Fauria snares six catches; becomes Big Eight all-time tight end reception leader” would have been apropos;

“CU posts 576 yards of offense, sets team record for season average – 495.3″ would have been good; or

“Kordell Stewart becomes Big Eight all-time leader for total offense”.

All worthy events, but they were all  overshadowed.  First by Rashaan Salaam, then by the team’s thirteen-year head coach.

Salaam was effective against Iowa State, rushing for almost 200 yards and a touchdown in the game’s first three quarters.  The Buffs, though, could not put away the winless Cyclones, leading only 20-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Salaam was still 13 yards shy of the 2000-yard mark as the Buffs, leading 27-13 after a 23-yard run by Kordell Stewart to open the quarter, faced a first-and-ten at the CU 33-yard line.  Salaam took the handoff from Stewart, cut to his right, and raced down the sideline in front of his teammates for a 67-yard touchdown and front-runner status for the Heisman.  Salaam’s run gave him 2,055 yards on the season, and also gave him the titles of the nation’s leading rusher, scorer, and all-purpose runner.

Salaam’s final run of the day also gave Colorado its first real comfortable lead of the day, at 34-13.

The remainder of the game was a celebration.  The 10-1 Buffs were heading for the Fiesta Bowl and a yet-to-be-named opponent.  Salaam was given a ride off of the field by his teammates, as 46,113 frigid fans (37 degrees at kickoff) kept themselves warm by cheering the third 10-win team in school history.  All in all, a successful game and season.  Fans piled out of the stadium and into the late-afternoon sunshine, cold but content with the day.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Highlight of Salaam’s run which put him over 2000 yards for the season:


Back from the store

In Bozeman, I received updates from ABC and ESPN throughout the afternoon on the win over Iowa State. Frustration with the Buffs inability to put away ISU was quickly forgotten when the highlight of Salaam’s touchdown run flashed across the screen. The play made for perfect theater. Salaam reached the 2,000 mark in just the right fashion – at home, running right in front of the CU bench, on a long touchdown run to clinch the win. If Salaam had not already clinched the Heisman, that highlight alone may have sealed the deal. It would be replayed numerous times in subsequent weeks as college football analysts debated the issue.

Content with the afternoon’s events, I went to the store with my wife, Lee. Some time later, we returned to find the answering machine blinking. It was Charlie B. in Tennessee. “What is McCartney thinking?”, Charlie asked me by way of tape. “What is going on?”

Not understanding the message, and assuming Charlie was merely upset about McCartney’s play-calling on the day, I returned the call. It was then that I learned the reason for Charlie’s consternation. I quickly clicked on the television, turned to ESPN, and quickly had confirmed for me what Charlie was telling me.

Colorado head football coach Bill McCartney was resigning. (more under “McCartney’s Announcement“) …

Game Notes –

– The win over Iowa State was the 11th in a row for Colorado in the series, but was still one short of the series record (the Buffs won 12 straight from1966 and 1977).

– Kordell Stewart went 14-for-21 for 196 yards passing on the afternoon, putting him over 2,000 for the season. As a result, Colorado, in the 125-year history of college football, became just the second team to ever have a 2,000-yard rusher and a 2,000-yard passer in the same season, with Salaam’s 2,055 yards rushing complemented by Stewart’s 2,071 yards passing (in 1988, Barry Sanders ran for 2,628 yards and Mike Gundy passed for 2,163 yards for Oklahoma State).

– While Colorado was posting 576 yards of total offense against Iowa State, giving the Buffs a school-record average of 495.3 yards per game, the defense held the Cyclones to a season-low 243 yards.

– Iowa State finished the 1994 season with an 0-10-1 record, with only a 31-31 tie to show for Jim Walden’s final campaign in Ames. Walden coached at Iowa State for eight seasons, compiling an overall record of 28-57-3, with his best season being a 6-5 campaign in 1989. Walden was replaced by Dan McCarney, who would go on to become the all-time winningest coach in ISU history.

1994 Honorees

– All Americans … First team … Rashaan Salaam (unanimous); Chris Hudson (consensus) … Tony Berti (College Sports Magazine); Michael Westbrook (AFCA; Walter Camp)

– All Big Eight (First team) … OT Tony Berti; DT Shannon Clavelle; TE Christian Fauria; CB Chris Hudson; LB Ted Johnson; TB Rashaan Salaam; QB Kordell Stewart; OC Bryan Stoltenberg; WR Michael Westbrook

– Heisman trophy: Rashaan Salaam (winner) (Kordell Stewart finished 13th in the balloting)

– Jim Thorpe Award: Chris Hudson (winner)

– Doak Walker Award: Rashaan Salaam (winner)

– Maxwell Award: Rashaan Salaam (runner-up)

– Dick Butkus Award: Ted Johnson (runner-up)

– Davey O’Brien Award: Kordell Stewart (one of ten finalists)

– Fred Biletnikoff Award: Michael Westbrook (one of ten semi-finalists)

– Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award: Kordell Stewart (one of six finalists)

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