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

Note … This is the seventh 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. 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


September 14th – Boulder           Colorado 21, Oregon 17

Mickey Pruitt’s sack of Oregon quarterback Chris Miller as time expired allowed Colorado to raise its season record to 2-0 for the first time since 1978 with an exciting 21-17 win over the Ducks in Boulder.

The Buffs offense made it look easy in the first quarter, racing to a 14-0 lead. Sophomore fullback Anthony Weatherspoon scored on a ten-yard run, followed shortly thereafter by a three yard touchdown run by quarterback Mark Hatcher.

After the quick start, though, Oregon dominated through the middle quarters, forging a 17-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

Then the game really got interesting.

Quarterback Mark Hatcher scored on a 22-yard run early in the fourth quarter to put the Buffs back on top, 21-17. After that, the defense was asked to take over. Specifically, the game, and the fragile confidence of Colorado’s young team, came down to the play of two sophomore defensive backs, David Tate and Mickey Pruitt.

With the Buffs holding on to a tenuous four-point lead after Hatcher’s run, Oregon drove down the field. The drive was thwarted, however, by an interception by David Tate at the Buffs’ 10 yard line. After the pick, the Buffs were held deep in their own territory and were quickly forced to punt. Punter Barry Helton did his part, with a 68-yard kick down to the Ducks 13-yard line.

5:23 still remained. Colorado 21, Oregon 17.

The Ducks, led by future NFL quarterback Chris Miller, methodically drove from its own 13 to the Colorado three-yard line as the clock ticked off the final minutes of the game. Oregon had a first-and-goal at the Colorado five yard line with a minute left in the game. Three plays netted only two yards, however, with Buff fans pleading with the defense to hold on for one more play.

Faced with fourth-and-goal at the Colorado three yard line, Chris Miller called time out. Only nine seconds remained on the game clock.

The game would come down to one play.

What would it be for the Buffs? Would Colorado double its 1984 win total in only the second week of the game, or would the black cloud which had hung over Folsom Field for the previous five years again rain upon the Buffs and their faithful fans?

Enter Mickey Pruitt.

Sophomore strong safety Mickey Pruitt was a member of Bill McCartney’s first recruiting class. It was fitting then, that it was Pruitt who broke through on a safety blitz, flushed Miller out of the pocket, and sacked the Oregon quarterback before Miller could get off the pass.

Ball turned over on downs. Game over. Colorado 21, Oregon 17.

How big was the win?

Coach McCartney after the game: “I think that could be a turning point for our program.”

In retrospect, who can argue with that statement?

Here is a You Tube video of the final play, one of Bill McCartney’s Top Five plays:


Ed Reinhardt Day

Only 30,373 were in attendance for the 1985 Colorado/Oregon game.

That’s a shame.

The occasion deserved nothing less than a sellout crowd of 50,000+. Not only because of the win, but because of the halftime activities that afternoon. The Oregon game in 1985 was designated at Colorado as “Ed Reinhardt Day”. After collapsing in Eugene after the Colorado/Oregon game the year before, Reinhardt spent two months in a coma. By September, 1985, Reinhardt was in an extensive rehabilitation program at Craig Hospital in Denver.

Halftime festivities saluted not only Reinhardt, but also the Oregon team and the city of Eugene, Oregon, whose outpouring of assistance had not gone unnoticed in Boulder. Reinhardt’s presence was an emotional lift for a program which needed one.

The exciting win could well be attributed to a player who never played a down in the game, Ed Reinhardt.


Game Notes –

– Both quarterback Mark Hatcher (16 rushes, 114 yards) and fullback Anthony Weatherspoon (25 rushes for 101 yards) eclipsed the 100-yard barrier against Oregon, with Ron Brown (eight rushes for 83 yards) not far behind. The Oregon game marked the first time since 1978 (v. Kansas) that Colorado had two players rush for over 100 yards in the same game.

– Colorado out-gained Oregon on the afternoon, 390 yards to 328, with the two teams taking different paths to offensive yards. The Buffs had 342 yards rushing to only 106 for the Ducks, but Oregon had 222 yards passing, while Colorado completed only two passes (in five attempts), going for 48 yards.

– Junior linebacker Barry Remington, who would go on to lead the Buffs in tackles in 1985 with 162, led the Buffs with 22 tackles (13 unassisted) against Oregon.

– Barry Helton’s 68-yard punt certainly helped the Buffs against the Ducks, but it was well short of the school-record 84-yard punt (“without roll”) Byron “Whizzer” White laid on Missouri in 1937. Oddly enough, Helton’s effort was his only punt of the afternoon.

– Oregon would go on to finish the 1985 season with a 5-6 record; 3-4 in the Pac-10. In a harbinger of what the Buffs were to face later in the season, Oregon, two weeks after facing Colorado, would fall to No. 14 Nebraska, 63-0.

One Reply to “CU at Its Best – No. 14”

  1. This game, against Oregon, WAS the turning point of Bill McCartney’s program. Where there had been doubt, Mickey Pruitt’s execution of the game’s final play instilled a sense of capability to those hoping that the Buffs were in the process of becoming winners. The celebration that ensued was a harbinger of things to come. As one of the students in attendance, though, my lasting memory was seeing Ed Reinhardt’s sudden smile of recognition when the car carrying him swung toward the student section at halftime. The ensuing roar of the crowd hopefully provided both acknowledgement and support during his long road of recovery. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to be a Buff.

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