CU Games of the Day – October 11th

October 11th … CU has a 2-5 record on this date over the past 40 years … 1980: One of the most infamous losses in CU history, with CU falling to Drake, 41-22 … 1986: An interception by linebacker John Nairn preserves a 17-12 win over Missouri … 1997: From a college football fan’s perspective, the 33-29 victory by No. 20 Oklahoma State over No. 24 Colorado was a great game (with video highlights) … 2003: Brian Calhoun scored on a twelve-yard run up the middle of the Kansas defense on Colorado’s third play of overtime, lifting the Buffs to a wild 50-47 win … 2008: Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing made it three-for-three against Colorado, passing for 256 yards and a touchdown in leading the Jayhawks to a 30-14 win over the Buffs … 2012: A 20-17 halftime score becomes a 51-17 rout as the Buffs melt in the desert against Arizona State … 2019: Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert completed 18-of-32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while his Colorado counterpart, Steven Montez went 19-for-34 for 131 yards … and a career-high four interceptions, as No. 13 Oregon routed Colorado, 45-3 …

  • 1980: Drake 41, Colorado 22 … Boulder Daily Camera headline:  “Bulldogs Send CU to Bottom” – the first 0-5 start in CU history … Essay: “Beneath Nadir” or “Who the Hell is Drake?”
  • 1986: Colorado 17, Missouri 12 … Freshman Jeff Campbell returned nine Tiger punts for 112 yards.  The nine returns broke a school-record of eight set by Byron “Whizzer” White … 
  • 1997: No. 20 Oklahoma State 33, No. 24 Colorado 29 … With the loss, the 2-3 Buffs fell out of the polls for the first time since 1988, a run of 143 consecutive weeks … Essay: “Statistics are for Losers” …
  • 2003: Colorado 50, Kansas 47 … Both teams had double digit leads on a day which witnessed Colorado come back five different times to tie the game or take the lead … Essay: “Canadian Thanksgiving” …
  • 2008: No. 16 Kansas 30, Colorado 14 … “They played better than we did,” said Dan Hawkins. “We’ve got to move the ball. We’ve got to stop people. Play better on special teams. We’ve got to coach better. It’s the whole deal”… Essay: “Mid-Season Blues” …
  • 2012: Arizona State 51, Colorado 17 … Arizona State gained 593 yards on the evening; Colorado 255. The Sun Devils had only three more snaps from scrimmage, leaving the average gain per play disparity at a lopsided 7.7 yards per play to 3.4 … Essay: “Half as Good”
  • 2019: No. 13 Oregon 45, Colorado 3 … “We feel like we can beat every team on our schedule but any team on our schedule, we can lose to, as well,” Mel Tucker said … Essay: “1,111 Days – The Legacy of Steven Montez”

October 11, 1980 – Boulder          Drake 41, Colorado 22

Colorado bounced back from the 82-42 Oklahoma debacle by out-gaining the supposedly out-manned Drake Bulldogs, 379 yards to 347.  This was not sufficient, however, to prevent a 41-22 loss to a Drake team the Buffs had surely scheduled as a breather game between games against ranked Big Eight opponents.

Colorado certainly had no reason to be overconfident against any team,  but they played as if they only needed to put on their pads in order to record their first win of 1980.  Seven turnovers later, however, and the Buffs had qualified as one of the worst teams in the country, falling 41-22, to drop the 1980 season record to 0-5.

Colorado actually enjoyed its first lead of the season in this game, as quarterback Charlie Davis led the Buffs to an early 14-3 advantage.  Unfortunately for the Buffs, Charlie Davis was injured after scoring the second Colorado touchdown.  With back-up quarterback Randy Essington suspended for one game for “disciplinary reasons”, the Buffs attack was placed in the hands of Scott Kingdom.  Kingdom failed to come through, though, completing only 10-of-25 passes for130 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions.

By halftime, the Buffs were down 24-14, well on their way to the first 0-5 start in the history of the Colorado football program.

Beneath Nadir … 

Having been famous in college football world for the last two weeks, but for all of the wrong reasons, it seemed that things could not get worse for the University of Colorado football team in October, 1980.

This proved to be overly optimistic.

Losing to Drake, and losing badly, at home, left even the most fervent Buff fans shaking their heads, and many looking for better things to do with their fall afternoons.  Only 37,689 bothered to come to the Drake game, and those who came probably showed up to see what it would be like to see the Buffs actually win a game.

The motivation also should have been there for the Buff players and coaches to show to the world that Colorado football was not as bad as had been demonstrated in previous 49-7 and 82-42 home losses.  If nothing else, one would have thought the Buffs would have wanted to “avenge” the upset loss to Drake from the year before.  Neither statement was made by the swooning Buffs.  In fact, the opposite was conveyed, as CU was not even competitive against a program which would in a few years discontinue its football team (only to resurrect the program later as a Division I-AA team).

The headlines the next morning showed the frustration everyone felt:

Denver Post:  “Drake Adds Insult to CU Injury”

Rocky Mountain News:  “Drake Pushes CU to New Low”

Boulder Daily Camera:  “Bulldogs Send CU to Bottom”

The Drake loss proved to be my greatest test as a CU fan.

I wanted to cheer for my school, and I loved college football. Five games into my freshman year, though, I had yet to see the team win.

With the next two games on the calendar coming against Missouri, ranked No. 16 in the country, and Nebraska, ranked No. 9, there was no hope in sight for the winless Buffs.  I started scanning the sports pages to find the one line entries for the Montana State game results.  After all, MSU, playing in my hometown of Bozeman, Montana, had won the Division II National Championship in 1976, and was at least playing competitive football.

The Drake game, and indeed the entire 1980 CU season, was summed up towards the end of the game. I was still in the stands in the fourth quarter, even though the game outcome was no longer in doubt. I overheard a fraternity member as he stumbled past us on his way out of the stadium.  Apparently having had his fill of beer for the day, and his fill of CU football for the season (by mid-October) all he could mutter was:  “Drake!  Who the Hell is Drake?”

Game Notes … 

– The scheduling of a weak Drake team in 1979 and 1980 was understandable. Colorado had non-conference games scheduled in 1979 against LSU and Oregon, and against LSU and UCLA in 1980. The Buffs could be forgiven for lining up a sacrificial lamb for their third non-conference game, but the strategy back-fired. The Buffs lost both games to the Bulldogs, one of the most embarrassing footnotes in Colorado football history.

– Drake would go on to post an 8-3 record in 1980, going 3-2 in Missouri Valley Conference play. After winning the MVC in 1981 with a 10-1 record, the Bulldogs posted four straight losing seasons. Unable to maintain the expense of a football program, Drake, six years after beating Colorado in consecutive seasons, dropped its football program. The following year, in 1987, Drake reinstated football, competing as an independent.

October 11, 1986 – at Missouri          Colorado 17, Missouri 12

The bye week between the non-conference slate and the commencement of Big Eight play could not have come at a better time for the Colorado Buffs.  The Buffs were reeling at 0-4, though they could easily have been 3-1.  “It (the bye week) gives us a chance to regroup and get a new perspective on the season”, said Coach Bill McCartney, “I think we need to regroup emotionally as much as anything.”

Whatever the coaching staff devised to rejuvenate the team, it worked.

Playing more like the 1985 team which had won seven games, the offense and defense came off of the Buffs’ week off to play well during the same game for the first time all season.  Mark Hatcher and O.C. Oliver both scored in the second quarter with runs of 27 and five yards, respectively, to give Colorado all of the points it would need in a 17-12 victory.

Oliver’s touchdown run was set up by a trick play.  On fourth-and-one at the Buffs’ own 29 yard line, punter Barry Helton threw a pass to safety Mickey Pruitt for a 17-yard gain.  “You gotta take chances when you’re 0-4”, said McCartney of the fake punt, “That was a big play.”

The Buffs were up 14-6 at half, but the lead would have been 14-3 if not for a Big Eight record 62-yard field goal by Tiger kicker Tom Whelihan (a kick aided by a 15 mph tailwind).

Still, Colorado’s offense against Missouri was again its own worst enemy.  Amassing a season high 391 total yards, the Buffs could have (and should have) scored more, but four turnovers halted Colorado drives.

The defense, stingy all day, proved up to the task late in the game.  Colorado’s defensive unit, given a lead to protect in the fourth quarter for the third time in five games, for once held on.

Allowing only 65 rushing yards all day, the defense did allow the Tigers to pull within five points with nine minutes left.  Time still remained for another Colorado lapse.  With its final drive, Missouri drove to the Colorado 49-yard line.  All appearances were that the Buffs were to come up short once more.

That, however, was before junior linebacker John Nairn picked off a pass by Missouri quarterback Jeff Henningsen.  The interception secured Colorado’s first win of the year.  “There was no way it was going to happen again,” said Nairn.  “We worked on it all week.  We designated a special period at each practice to work on stopping drives at the end.”

Colorado was now 1-4 on the season, but to coach McCartney and the Buffs, all that mattered was that the Buffs were 1-0 in Big Eight conference play.

Game Notes … 

– In the Missouri game, freshman Jeff Campbell returned nine Tiger punts for 112 yards.  The nine returns broke a school and conference record of eight set by Byron “Whizzer” White in a game against Colorado School of Mines on October 30, 1937.  When told of his record – since passed – Campbell showed he was a freshman in more than one sense.  Asked if he knew who White, then a Supreme Court Justice, was, Campbell replied, “Sure, they named a hamburger stand after him in Boulder.”

– Colorado had four turnovers against Missouri, the fourth game in five outings in which the Buffs had at least four turnovers.

– Prior to Tom Whelihan’s Big Eight record 62-yard field goal, the longest successful attempt against the Buffs had been 60 yards, by Dave Lawson of Air Force in 1974 (the last time Colorado played the Air Force Academy between 1974 and 2020). The longest field goal by a Buff was a 57-yarder by Fred Lima in 1972 (a record which would be tied just two weeks after the Missouri game).

– With regular starter Barry Remington unable to start due to vision problems, sophomore linebacker Jim Quackenbush received his first career start against Missouri. Remington did play, however, registering eight tackles against the Tigers.

– Missouri came into the game against Colorado with a 1-3 record, having won its opener against Utah State before falling to Texas, Indiana, and Syracuse. Missouri, under second-year head coach Woody Widenhofer, would go on to post two Big Eight victories (against the Kansas schools) to finish the 1986 season with a 3-8 record.

October 11, 1997 – at Oklahoma State          No. 20 Oklahoma State 33, No. 24 Colorado 29

From a college football fan’s perspective, the 33-29 victory by No. 20 Oklahoma State over No. 24 Colorado was a great game. Plenty of offense, plenty of big plays by the defenses and special teams, numerous lead changes, and a cliff-hanger ending.

Enthusiasm of the Oklahoma State homecoming crowd was dampened only by intermittent showers on a 70-degree evening in Stillwater. Colorado struck first, completing an 80-yard drive when Marlon Barnes took a pitch from John Hessler and ran it in for an eight yard score. The sell-out crowd (the first non-Oklahoma sell out in eight years) was quieted only briefly, though, as Oklahoma State responded with a drive of their own, converting on the first of four first half field goals.

The only remaining first half highlight for the Buffs came on a 93-yard kickoff return by Ben Kelly after the Cowboys had cut the CU lead to 7-6 in the second quarter. Knocked out at the OSU two yard line, Kelly left the scoring to Marlon Barnes, who jumped over a pile on the goal line to score untouched. The resulting 14-6 Colorado lead was to be the largest for either team throughout the night.

The next 13 points were scored by Oklahoma State, with first half concluding with the Cowboys on top 19-14, courtesy of two more field goals by Oklahoma State kicker Tim Snydes and an interception returned 40 yards for a touchdown by defensive back Kevin Williams. The pick was not difficult, as Buff quarterback John Hessler overthrew Darrin Chiaverini over the middle by a good six feet. But Williams did make the runback exciting, eluding much of the Colorado offense in electrifying the home crowd on the return. The defensive touchdown gave the Cowboys their first lead of the game, and gave Colorado its fourth halftime deficit in five outings.

The second half saw four more lead changes, as the momentum and the score continued to ebb and flow. The Buffs’ offense, shaking out of year-long doldrums, produced its highest point and yardage total of the young season. John Hessler passed for 308 yards and one score, while also contributing a two yard run in the third quarter for another score. Marlon Barnes, who many critics of the offense felt was underutilized, rambled for 45 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. The Buffs’ other score came on a 73-yard bomb from Hessler to Dwayne Cherrington with 9:46 left in the game.

With Colorado nursing a 29-26 lead late in the game, the Buffs recovered an Oklahoma State fumble at the Buff seven yard line. CU fans breathed a sigh of relief. All the Buffs had to do was run out the clock to escape with the win. On third down, however, Hessler’s pass was intercepted by senior cornerback Maurice Simpson at the Buff 23 yard line. It took only two plays for the Cowboys to score from there, and the Buffs were down 33-29 with 1:56 left in the game.

Fantastic finishes were nothing new in this series (witness the 1981 11-10 win for CU in Boulder; the 25-25 tie in 1982; and the 16-12 nail-biter in Stillwater in 1991), so there was still some hope for the Buffs. Colorado had all three time-outs, and when Ben Kelly returned the kickoff to the Buffs’ 30, everything was in place for the Buffs to pull out the win.

Like the 1997 season in microcosm, though, the comeback was seemingly just not meant to be.

Colorado could advance no further than the Cowboy 46 yard line, leaving John Hessler, for the second consecutive week, to demonstrate that he did not have the arm strength of Kordell Stewart. Hessler’s last-second toss from mid-field fell far short of any CU player, and Oklahoma State and coach Bob Simmons were left to celebrate their first 5-0 start since World War II.

Here is a YouTube video of the game, courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul:


Statistics are for losers

The phrase “statistics are for losers”, as I have come to understand it, means that the winners only care about the win, while the losers must console themselves with the stats, reviewing what would’ve, could’ve, and perhaps should’ve been.

Without wanting to or meaning to, the Colorado/Oklahoma State game sent the Sports Information Directors for both schools scurrying to the record books.

For Oklahoma State, it was a gleeful journey:

Best start (5-0) since 1945

First time ranked since 1988

First sellout against an opponent other than OU since 1988

For the Buffs, however, a number of unwanted precedents were set:

First loss in a night game (a span of 11 contests) since 1993

First consecutive losses since 1993

First loss to Oklahoma State since 1988

First losing record since losing the opening game of 1987

First consecutive losses in conference play since 1985

First 0-2 start in conference play since 1983

While all of these stats were difficult to swallow, the hardest for me to take, without question, was that the loss insured that Colorado would fall from the top 25 in the polls for the first time since the end of the 1988 season.

CU’s streak covered 143 consecutive polls, a streak second to only that of Nebraska (in every poll since 1981). Prior to the run of over eight years, the longest streak Colorado had put together was 37 weeks in 1970-73. In falling to 2-3 for the season, the Buffs fell back amongst the “others receiving votes” for the first time since Ronald Reagan was President. In the October 12th Associated Press poll, the Buffs garnered only 15 points, tying them with Alabama for 32nd place. In the coaches’ poll, in 1997 affiliated with ESPN and USA Today, Colorado ended up tied with Clemson for 33rd place on 19 points.

As if to add insult to injury, the loss which removed Colorado from the national picture came at the hands of Oklahoma State, resurgent under former Colorado assistant head coach Bob Simmons. It did not escape the columnists and talk-show hosts in Denver that Simmons had been hand-picked as the successor to Bill McCartney by McCartney himself, only to be passed over by Athletic Director Bill Marolt in favor of Neuheisel. From all appearances, Simmons had the Cowboys on the rise with a 5-0 record in his third season, while Colorado under Rick Neuheisel was on its way to its worst campaign since at least 1993. It was easy to envision an image of Simmons passing Neuheisel on an elevator, with Simmons going up and Neuheisel going down.

Neuheisel refused to get caught up in the whirlwind: “Well, it just one of those years”, the head coach was quoted as saying after the game, “But, starting today, we’re going to try to turn it around. I don’t know any other way but to just keep fighting, and hopefully we’ll do just that.”

And there was some reason for hope for the 2-3 Buffs.

The Colorado offense had shown some signs of life and unpredictability for the first time all year, and the talent was certainly in place in Boulder. With the October 11th contest, Bob Simmons’ career record rose to 15-14; Neuheisel’s fell to 22-7. The fair-weather fans were after Neuheisel with renewed vigor, but no one could predict the future.

Game Notes … 

– As noted, above, the loss pushed the Buffs out of the polls for the first time since 1988, a run of 143 consecutive weeks. At the time, the streak was one of the top ten such runs in NCAA history.

– When Colorado scored in the third quarter, the Buffs went from a 19-14 deficit to a 20-19 lead. The Buffs then converted a two-point conversion on a John Hessler run. The two-point conversion was the first for the Buffs since 1988.

– Unable to post over 300 yards of total offense for three games, the Colorado offense posted 390 yards against Oklahoma State. The stalwart Colorado defense, though, gave up 377 yards of total offense to Oklahoma State.

– Safety Ryan Sutter led the CU defense, collecting 15 tackles and an interception. Junior defensive end Nick Ziegler collected two sacks and three tackles for loss against the Cowboys, both numbers being season highs for the CU defense.

– The record book only remembers the 99-yard kickoff return Ben Kelly had against Wyoming, as it was returned for a touchdown. But Kelly’s 93-yard return against Oklahoma State certainly padded the statistics. Kelly finished the 1997 season with 25 kickoff returns for 777 yards, an impressive 31.1 yards per return average. At the end of the season, Kelly received not only first-team All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner, but a first-team All-American nod from The Sporting News.

– The 73-yard touchdown pass from John Hessler to Dwayne Cherrington proved to be the longest play from scrimmage for Colorado in the 1997 season.

– The victory over Colorado in 1997 proved to be the high-water mark for former CU assistant coach Bob Simmons. After the big win over the Buffs, Oklahoma State rose to No. 12 in the polls. The Cowboys could not sustain the success, though, losing three of their next four games. A 33-20 loss to Purdue in the Sun Bowl gave Oklahoma State an 8-4 final record, and a No. 24 final ranking. Oklahoma State would not return to a bowl game until 2002, two seasons after Bob Simmons was fired. In six seasons in Stillwater, Simmons compiled a 30-38 overall record (1-3 against Colorado).

October 11, 2003 – Boulder           Colorado 50, Kansas 47 OT

Brian Calhoun scored on a twelve-yard run up the middle of the Kansas defense on Colorado’s third play of overtime, lifting the Buffs to a wild 50-47 win.

Both teams had double digit leads on a day which witnessed Colorado come back five different times to tie the game or take the lead.

The Buffs rallied from deficits which, at various stages of the game stood at: 7-0, 21-17, 35-24, 38-30, 44-38 and 47-44 in a scoring display in which the two teams combined for 1,184 yards of total offense.

Colorado posted 598 of those yards, led by quarterback Joel Klatt, back for his first start since separating his shoulder against Washington State. Klatt passed for 419 yards and two touchdowns, scoring a third on a one yard run. His 54 passes overall set a new school record, as did his 38 completions.

On a day where the offenses dominated, Kansas started early, scoring on a 64-yard pass from quarterback Bill Whittemore to Brandon Rideau less than two minutes into the game. The Buffs countered with 17 unanswered points, with Klatt’s one-yard scoring run sandwiched between a 48-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to tight end Joe Klopfenstein and a 23-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

Then it was the Jayhawks’ turn to dominate, scoring 28 second quarter points to the Buffs’ seven.

Jayhawk signal caller Bill Whittemore scored on two short runs, throwing for a third score, a 41-yard “Hail Mary” to Charles Gordon, with no time remaining in the half. Keeping the Buffs in the game was a 25-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to D.J. Hackett with five minutes left in the quarter. Still, even with the Hacket touchdown, the Buffs trailed the Jayhawks at halftime, 35-24.

Kansas had not only scored 35 points in the first half against the CU defense, it had already amassed 372 yards of total offense.

Rather than surrender, however, the Buffs rallied once again.

Led by Brian Calhoun, who gained 102 of his season-high 135 yards in the second half, the Buffs stormed back. The Buffs started the second half on a 15-play, 80-yard drive, culminated in a two-yard scoring run by Daniel Jolly. After a Kansas field goal, the Buffs tied the game at 38-all on a Jolly one-yard run.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Kansas regained the lead on five yard pass from Whittemore to Mark Simmons. Colorado cornerback Vance Washington blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score at 44-38. Two Mason Crosby field goals later, the second from 23 yards out with just 14 seconds to play, sent the game into overtime.

Crosby, who would garner Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his three field goal effort, was not fazed when the Jayhawks called time out on three consecutive occasions. “It was definitely the most pressure I’ve ever had”, said the freshman kicker of his game-tying kick. “It helped me out that Kansas called time outs. It lowered my nerves and definitely calmed me down.”

Colorado won the overtime coin toss, putting the Kansas offense on the field first. The Jayhawks did not manage a first down, settling for a 35-yard field goal and a 47-44 lead. Calhoun did all the work for the Buffs in overtime, running for nine yards, for four yards and a first down, and for 12 yards up the middle for the game-winner.

“That was an exciting and fun game to play,” said Klatt. “This team battled back like we did in the first two games.  “This was a huge boost for us.”

Said Gary Barnett of the win: “That was just great resiliency by our guys. It wasn’t a gem, but it was a tremendous effort.”

There were heroes aplenty for the Buffs.

In addition to the numbers put up by Klatt, Calhoun, and Crosby, there were the 179 total yards rushing by the Buffs, the most in a game all season. Jeremy Bloom finished with 159 all-purpose yards, including five catches for 97 yards. Daniel Jolly, who only had six carries on the afternoon, made the most of his opportunities, scoring twice.

The 3-3 Buffs had their first win in a month. “We needed it,” said Barnett. “Just to feel good for a week … “.

With the win came renewed hope for the season. Left for dead after two blowout losses and an embarrassing defeat at the hands of lowly Baylor, the Buffs found themselves in the midst of a race for the Big 12 North crown. Four teams, including the Buffs, had 1-1 conference records. Missouri, which had lost the week before to Kansas, defeated Nebraska, 41-24, to join Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas with 1-1 conference records. Kansas State, a preseason top ten pick, had lost three in a row. The Wildcats, CU’s next opponent, were 4-3 overall. After being upset by Marshall, KSU fell to Texas, 24-20, and Oklahoma State, 38-34. True enough, these were close losses to good teams, but the Wildcats were nonetheless 0-2 in conference play.

As a result, despite giving up 40+ points in four consecutive games, the Buffs controlled their own destiny.

“Maybe this game will be a catalyst for us to be a better defensive team,” Barnett said. “Who knows …. ?”

Then again, maybe not.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Boulder in early October. Sunny skies and 55-degrees. A crisp fall day. Warm, but with just a hint of cooler days to come. Enough leaves on the ground to kick through with the playful abandon of youth, but still enough leaves on the trees to make for colorful, frame-worthy photos of campus.

October 11, 2003 – perfect football weather for Colorado v. Kansas.

Ninety seven points scored. A Buff overtime win.


But I wasn’t there.

Normally, I would have been in town for the game. There was a gap in the CU home schedule between the CSU, UCLA, Washington State trilogy and the Oklahoma game the last weekend in October. A trip to Boulder for the Kansas game normally would have been a no-brainer. I would have been there for the ecstacy, the agony, and the relief of the 50-47 overtime win over the Jayhawks.

But I was in Bozeman.


Blame Canada.

The Columbus Day holiday in the United States matches up with Thanksgiving in Canada. My wife, Lee, had been in Edmonton, Alberta, since late August as part of her year-long internship at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Her first opportunity to come home was for the three-day weekend which coincided with the Canadian Thanksgiving. My choices: be home to see my wife for the first time in seven weeks, or head to Boulder to watch a team which had lost to Baylor (Baylor!) the previous week.

I stayed home.

That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t living and dying with the Buffs in the waning moments.

The CU website gave fans almost instantaneous access to the play-by-play of Buff games. When the game went into overtime, I left the ESPN Bottom Line updates (and whatever game happened to be on at the time – I wasn’t paying much attention) for the computer. The computer screen showed total yards, individual statistics, and, most importantly, gave the updates for the most recent five plays. The computer dutifully “refreshed” itself after each play. I watched the Kansas overtime drive unfold, barely breathing: Incomplete pass; gain of eight; loss of one. Time for a field goal and a 47-44 lead.

Then, suddenly, the computer lost its ability to “refresh”.

The same screen kept coming up again and again. No updates!!

I was in serious pain.

What had happened? Was the game over? Who won? Then, it occurred to me that while I was waiting for updates, I had heard a little “click” from our caller ID device. Someone had tried to call in, but the phone did not ring because I was on the internet. Had this call interfered with my connection with the CU website?

I went back and reloaded the website. Still on the same play. Now I was at least ten minutes from my latest update. I was frantic. Desperate, I clicked on the ESPN website. I clicked on the icon for “Scores”. Loading, loading … “Hurry up” I mumbled at my uncooperative monitor. Okay, click on “Big 12 scores”. Loading, loading … Okay, scroll down. Oklahoma destroying Texas. Oklahoma State upsetting Kansas State.

Wait, there it is ….

“Colorado 50, Kansas, 47″.

I let out a breath for the first time in the last fifteen minutes.

As it turned out, the call which had messed up my internet updates was from Brad, calling from Folsom Field. While I was waiting for the updates on the computer, Brad had an in-house update from the 72nd row. Had I not been on the computer, I would have known the outcome of the game a few tortured minutes earlier.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Game Notes …

– The 97 combined points easily set a record for the CU/KU series, besting the 82 points put up just the year before (a 53-29 CU win).

– Quarterback Joel Klatt’s school record 54 pass attempts surpassed the record of 51 jointly held by Randy Essington (in a 40-14 loss to Nebraska, 10/9/82) and Steve Vogel (in a 33-10 loss to Kansas State, 11/20/82).

– Klatt’s new mark for completions, 38, bested the mark of 33 set by Koy Detmer (in a 24-24 tie with Oklahoma, 10/17/92).

– Klatt’s 419 yards passing was the fourth most ever by a Buff; his 424 yards of total offense ranked seventh; and this total plays of 58 tied him for the fourth most ever in a single game.

– During the game, the Buffs converted on seven consecutive third down attempts, the second longest streak in school history (the record of ten in a row being set vs. Kansas in a 35-18 win, 11/12/66).

– Kansas, which had come to Folsom Field sporting a 4-1 record, would go on to lose four of their next five games. A 36-7 win over Iowa State in the regular season finale left the Jayhawks with a 6-6 record, good enough for a Citrus Bowl invitation. There, Kansas fell hard to North Carolina State, 56-26, finishing the 2003 campaign with a 6-7 record (3-5 in Big 12 play).

October 11, 2008 – at Kansas        No. 16 Kansas 30, Colorado 14

Junior quarterback Todd Reesing made it three-for-three against Colorado, passing for 256 yards and a touchdown in leading the Jayhawks to a 30-14 win over the Buffs. Reesing, who made his Kansas debut as a freshman against the Buffs in 2006, coming off the bench to lead the Jayhawks to a 20-15 victory, hit on 27 of 34 attempts as Kansas earned its third consecutive victory over Colorado for the first time since 1962-64.

In an improvement over the Florida State and Texas games, when the Buffs and their fans endured an opening drive touchdown from the opposition, Colorado played well for most of the first quarter. Kansas netted only one first down in its first three drives, and the Buffs took advantage of the field position. Josh Smith returned an Alonso Rojas punt 31 yards to the Kansas 35-yard line to set up the Buffs in scoring position. With a first down at the Kansas 18, though, a Cody Hawkins pass intended for Cody Crawford was wrestled away by Kendrick Harper at the KU four yard line.

A three-and-out and a short punt gave the Buffs another chance, starting their drive at the Kansas 28 yard line. This time, Colorado was successful, with Hawkins hitting Crawford from 11 yards out with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter. The resulting 7-0 lead was the first for the Buffs since the West Virginia game ended with a successful Aric Goodman field goal.

The lead would be short-lived.

On the Jayhawks’ first possession of the second quarter, Reesing quickly drove Kansas down the field. The touchdown drive covered 76 yards in only seven plays, with KU running back Jake Sharp going in from a yard out to tie the score with 8:56 remaining in the half.

Less than a minute later, the Buffs were behind to stay. On third-and-eleven at the CU sixteen yard line, Cody Hawkins backpedaled himself all the way to the endzone, being tackled by Jake Laptad for a safety and a 9-7 Kansas lead.

The Colorado defense did force a punt on the Jayhawks’ ensuing possession, and the Buff offense proceeded to put together its most impressive drive of the game. Piecing together four first downs, the Buffs drove 53 yards to KU’s 27 yard line. Then, on third-and-seven, Hawkins was intercepted by Darrel Stuckey at the Kansas ten yard line to end the threat. The teams went to the locker rooms with Kansas enjoying a 9-7 advantage.

Kansas upped the lead to 16-7 in the middle of the third stanza as Reesing hit wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe from five yards out. With the game starting to slip away, the Buffs needed a big play – and got two. Josh Smith returned the KU kickoff 59 yards to the Kansas 41, and two plays later Smith snagged a Cody Hawkins’ offering for a 38 yard gain down to the one yard line. Seconds later, Hawkins snuck it in and the Buffs had new life at the 1:03 mark of the third quarter.

Kansas 16, Colorado 14.

Then Reesing stepped in again, extinguishing any hopes of an upset. For the second time in the game, Kansas put together a seven-play, 76-yard drive. As with the first drive of equal length and duration, Jake Sharp finished off the effort with a touchdown run. Sharp’s scored from eight yards out, giving Kansas a 23-14 lead.

A three-and-out for the CU offense ended Cody Hawkins’ day, as the Jayhawks took advantage of a short field to give the 49,566 in attendance a leisurely fourth quarter. Set up by a 36 yard punt return, the Jayhawks only required six plays to cover 43 yards, with Jake Sharp scoring his third touchdown of the afternoon on a seven yard run to close out the scoring with 10:29 left to play.

Freshman Matt Ballenger took over for Cody Hawkins for the Buffs’ final three drives, but Ballenger was equally ineffective in moving the ball. The first nine plays Ballenger was under center, the Colorado offense generated eight yards (though the Buffs in the last few minutes of the game did string together three first downs, but that only served to push the total offensive output for the day over 200 yards).

It didn’t take a magnifying glass to discern from the stats sheet why the Buffs had dropped their third game in a row for the first time since Dan Hawkins’ first season. The Colorado defense surrendered 407 yards, but the CU offense had generated only 233. Cody Hawkins completed only 8-22 passes for 90 yards, with two interceptions and a sack for a safety. Rodney Stewart did manage 77 yards on the ground, but the CU running game, including sacks, managed only 86 total yards on the day.

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich didn’t have any immediate answers on how to get the Buffs, who were held to less than 20 points for the third time in four weeks (with the fourth game a 39-21 loss to Florida State), back on track offensively. “We’ve got to figure out a way,” said Helfrich. “We’ve got to find a way that our guys when they see a play called, they’re going ‘Yes’. We’ve got to find a way and we will. We will.”

“They played better than we did,” said Dan Hawkins matter-of-factly. “We’ve got to move the ball. We’ve got to stop people. Play better on special teams. We’ve got to coach better. It’s the whole deal.”

There was little time for the “whole deal” to come together. Up next was 4-2 Kansas State, fresh off a 44-30 victory over Texas A&M. The Wildcats two losses were to Louisville (38-29) and Texas Tech (58-28). Even in their losses, the Wildcats had scored early and often, with their 29 points against Louisville and 28 points against Texas Tech being their lows for the season.

If the Buffs were to pull off what was now a “must win” over the Wildcats, the Colorado offense, with the assistance of the CU defense and special teams, would have to find a way to put points on the board.

It would take the “whole deal” from the Buffs against Kansas State to turn the 2008 season around.

Mid-season Blues

For those of us who remember the giddy days of 3-0 – say, three weeks ago – it is hard not to look at the state of the Colorado program and wonder if the Buffs will be able to get their act together and put some wins on the board before the calendar turns to 2009.

The questions are many:

Will the offense ever be a consistent threat? Will the offensive line ever become a cohesive unit capable of producing holes and forming a pocket for the quarterback? Will Cody Hawkins hang on to the football and make smart decisions? Will the Colorado defensive line, supposedly the strength of the defense, start living up to its pre-season billing? Will any of the linebackers step and become a play maker? Will the Colorado special teams ever warrant the title “special”? Will the freshmen of last season, who showed such promise, mature into productive sophomores? Will the Darrell Scott era finally take off, or is his story destined to become that of another #1 running back who came to Colorado with such flair and promise, only to leave a sad legacy (Marcus Houston)?

As I crawl out from my bunker, though, I begin to see the 2008 Buffs as still being a work in progress. I see a team which is still being molded, one which is still growing. Granted, it is not on the pace we had hoped for only three weeks ago, but it is still on pace for what we expected seven weeks ago.

I offer you the following:

“There are two ways to break down the 2008 Colorado schedule. One way is to work from the extremes towards the middle. In that respect, Colorado State, Eastern Washington, Kansas State, and Iowa State are the most likely wins. West Virginia, Texas, Kansas, and Missouri will all likely be ranked when the Buffs play them (perhaps all undefeated and in the top ten), so there are four losses. This means the 2008 schedule comes down to four games: at Florida State, at Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and at Nebraska. In order to improve on the 6-6 regular season record of 2007, the Buffs will need to win three of those four games. With three of those games being on the road, such an improvement may be a tall order for Colorado.

I prefer to break down the 2008 schedule into segments. The first segment contains the first two games: v. CSU in Denver, and at home against Eastern Washington. This is easy: for the Buffs to have a winning season, both of these games must be victories.

The second segment of the season stretches four games: West Virginia; at Florida State; Texas; and at Kansas. All but Florida State will be ranked, the remaining three likely ranked in the top ten when playing the Buffs. Colorado needs to win at least one of these games. Not just to make a splash in the national media. Not just to enhance the overall record. But to set up a stretch run to a bowl game in 2008. Florida State is the easiest pick for a CU win, but the game is at Jacksonville, and the Seminoles remain an enigma. A win over Texas at home, or even over Kansas on the road, is not inconceivable. This is the crucial stretch of the season. 0-4 could send the Buffs reeling. 1-3 gives the Buffs life in the bowl chase. 2-2 (or better!), and the set up for a magical season will be in place.

The third segment of the season stretches three games: Kansas State; at Missouri; at Texas A&M. If the Buffs fail to win two games in the first segment, or fail to win one in the second segment, this stretch of the season will decide Colorado’s fate in 2008. Should the Buffs get through the first half 3-3, a bowl bid becomes a strong possibility, as the Buffs will only need one win in this segment. A victory over Kansas State leaves the Buffs playing with house money against Missouri and Texas A&M. A win over either would be gravy.

The final segment of the 2008 campaign involves three games: Iowa State; Oklahoma State; and at Nebraska. A 4-5 Buff team will not need to panic, as both Iowa State and Oklahoma State are winnable games. Should the Buffs enter the final phase of the season with a winning record, the speculation will now be over which bowl the Buffs will be invited to attend.

A tough schedule; a long season. I see great improvement in the overall talent and attitude in Boulder. How that manifests itself on the playing field remains to be seen. This could be a breakout season for the Buffs, but I believe that will come in 2009 (when the non-conference slate is much more manageable). Most breakout teams, the season before they make their move on the national stage, post eight wins the year before (including Colorado, which finished 8-4 before going 11-1 and 11-1-1 in 1989 and 1990). I see seven regular season wins, and a bowl win to conclude the season on a high note, and to set the stage for 2009.

Others may want more out of 2008, but for me – ‘Eight is Enough’.”

This was my preseason projection, and, for the most part, it has held up. Eastern Washington certainly wasn’t an easy victory, but it was a victory. Realistically, a 3-3 record at the midway point, when viewed in August, was a reasonable goal.

In the second half of the season, some revisions are necessary. Oklahoma State looks like a much more difficult game, though Texas A&M looks more inviting. Wins over Kansas State and Iowa State are still mandatory if the Buffs hope to be successful.

Preseason’s over. The gauntlet has been run. The Buffs are a 3-3 team, with four winnable games in the final six. Beat Kansas State, and the 2008 season is still filled with possibilities. Lose to KSU, with Missouri up next …..

Let’s not go there.

October 11, 2012 – Boulder          Arizona State 51, Colorado 17

Rashad Ross returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game and Taylor Kelly threw three scoring passes to tailback Marion Grice in Arizona State’s 51-17 victory over Colorado on Thursday night.

Grice caught touchdown throws of 37, 16 and 20 yards from Kelly, who threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions thanks to a steady diet of successful screen passes. He also tucked it and ran for 67 yards through huge chunks of open space all night long.

Arizona State went for 593 yards of total offense, while Colorado spent most of the second half hovering around the Mendoza line of 200 yards of total offense, settling for 255 yards after gaining some yards late in the game when the contest was out of hand, and most of the black-out home crowd of 45,161 had headed for the exits.

The game started with a 21-yard pass from Buff quarterback Jordan Webb to freshman wide receiver Gerald Thomas, but that play proved to be the first quarter highlight for the Colorado offense. After being held to a three-and-out in its first possession, the Arizona State offense got on track with its second opportunity. The Sun Devils needed only seven plays to cover 91 yards to take the lead. A pair of 23-yard runs, one by quarterback Taylor Kelly, put the ball on the CU side of the field. On a second-and-16 from the Buff 37 yard line, Kelly through a screen pass to running back Marion Grice, who raced unchallenged for the first score of the game.

The extra point was blocked, but an ominous tone had been set. Arizona State 6, Colorado 0, with 4:48 to play in the first quarter.

Colorado finished the first quarter with only two first downs, but did gain some momentum early in the second stanza. Arizona State faced a fourth-and-eight at the CU 34-yard line. Not confident enough to kick a 51-yard field goal, the Sun Devils went for the first down, but were denied when Taylor Kelly was forced to scramble, gaining only three yards before being forced out of bounds by Buff linebacker Brady Daigh.

The Colorado offense then responded with its first drive of the game. A nine-yard completion from Webb to sophomore tight end Kyle Slavin gave the Buffs a first down, followed a play later by a 21-yard completion from Webb to red-shirt freshman wide receiver Nelson Spruce. A pass interference penalty set up the Buffs at the Arizona State two yard line. On second-and-goal, after Webb missed a wide open Scott Fernandez on first down, sophomore running back Tony Jones ran the ball in around right end for a touchdown.

With Will Oliver’s extra point, Colorado had its first lead in the first half of a game since the Sacramento State game in week two. Colorado 7, Arizona State 6.

Colorado’s “time spent in the lead”, a statistic which was heavily weighted against the Buffs coming into the game (56:49 of game time for the Buffs in the first five games, 202:36 for CU’s opponents), lasted all of 2:50 of game clock against Arizona State. The Sun Devils needed only eight plays to cover 75 yards to take the lead for good. A 34-yard pass from Kelly to wide receiver D.J. Foster covered 34 yards, and order had been restored. Arizona State 13, Colorado 7.

A three-and-out by the Colorado offense was followed by a “three-and-in” by the Arizona State offense, with Kelly completing passes of 30, 18 and 16 yards to up the lead to 20-7. The combination of Kelly-to-Grice worked again for the Sun Devils, who took only 1:01 of game clock on its scoring drive.

On the Buffs’ ensuing drive, the Colorado offense appeared to be stopped at the Arizona State 43-yard line. The Buffs faced a fourth-and-four with 34 seconds to play. Risking returning the ball to the Sun Devils, the CU coaching staff decided to go for the first down, and were rewarded when Webb hit senior tight end Nick Kasa for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later, Webb connected with Kasa again, this time for a 20-yard touchdown, and the Buffs had new life with 24 seconds to play in the half. Arizona State 20, Colorado 14.

But the Buffs weren’t done.

The Colorado kickoff was returned by Jamal Miles, who returned the kick to the ASU 17-yard line, where Buff linebacker Brady Daigh forced a fumble. The ball was recovered by sophomore linebacker K.T. Tu’umalo at the ASU 19-yard line, and – just for a moment – the CU blackout crowd had thoughts of an upset.

There were only 17 seconds left in the half, however, and had only time for two plays, both incompletions, before Will Oliver was called upon for a 36-yard field goal attempt. The sophomore kicker was good on his second of three attempts on the season, and the half ended with CU brimming with confidence.

Halftime score: Arizona State 20, Colorado 17.

The era of good feeling, though, didn’t even last until most of the Buff fans had returned to their seats after halftime. Rashad Ross took the second half kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown, and the Sun Devils once again had a two-score cushion. Arizona State 27, Colorado 17.

On the Buffs’ first possession of the second half, the Colorado offense generated two first downs before punting the ball away. The two first downs were signifiant only in the fact that, by the time the Buffs generated their next first down, the game clock was under ten minutes in the fourth quarter, and the Sun Devils were in cruise control with a 20-point lead.

Rather than build upon the ten points scored in the last 24 seconds of the first half, the Buffs fell apart. Arizona State, first with an 11-play, 76-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, then with a seven-play, 60-yard drive for a field goal early in the fourth quarter, left little doubt in the minds of the national ESPN audience as to who was the better team.

Already down 20 points, the Colorado offense generated a first down for the first time in over a quarter with a 20-yard completion from Webb to Kasa. The drive ended, however, on an ill-advised deep handoff to running back Tony Jones on fourth-and-one at the Colorado 48-yard line. The play never had any chance of succeeding, with Jones hit well behind the line of scrimmage.

A disinterested Buff defense then surrendered to late touchdowns, with neither Arizona State drive taking over two minutes of game clock. What had been a 20-point defeat quickly deteriorated into a 34-point rout.

Final Score: Arizona State 51, Colorado 17.

In a 34-point loss, there is usually little to be found on the stats sheet for the losing team to grasp onto as a positive.

And such was the case for Colorado against Arizona State.

Arizona State gained 593 yards on the evening; Colorado 255. The Sun Devils had only three more snaps from scrimmage, leaving the average gain per play disparity at a lopsided 7.7 yards per play to 3.4 (on first downs, the contrast was even more stark, with ASU gaining an average of 8.9 yards on every first down; CU 2.5 yards). Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb completed 20-of-41 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown, and was sacked five times.

Buff senior tight end Nick Kasa had the best night for the Buffs, collecting four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. The anemic rushing game, which generated only 75 total yards, was led by Josh Ford, with 38 yards, and Tony Jones, with 37.

“I thought we played a very good first half,” said CU head coach Jon Embree. “Third quarter, we talked about coming out of the locker room and doing a great job of covering the kicks, and obviously we didn’t do that. We did not have any rhythm in the second half offensively. I thought the defense, though, for the most part in the second half played well. Obviously towards the end, after Brady’s incident (linebacker Brady Daigh was carted off the field on a stretcher late in the game, though the move was largely precautionary), there was no juice or air on that side of the ball. I thought the defense, again, like the UCLA game, they gave us a chance if we could just get a little momentum going offensively”.

With only half of the season complete, there was still a great deal of football to be played. Unfortunately for the Buffs and the Buff Nation, the first half of the 2012 schedule was the “easy” half of the campaign. Up next on the calender were three games against ranked teams, USC, Oregon, and Stanford, with two of those three games on the road. More lopsided losses seemed not only likely, but pre-ordained.

“Our kids, and I really mean this, I’m proud of how they compete and how they fight,” said Embree. “And I really do believe that they don’t look at the scoreboard, I don’t think they look at the scoreboard and say ‘Oh now were in it, or oh now were out of it’. They really do go out and play hard and play hard every play and the next play like you would want as a coach.”

That’s good news, as the scoreboards are not likely to be any more kind to the Buffs as the dismal 2012 drags on.

Game Notes …

– The nationally televised Thursday night game was the third such game for Colorado, with the Buffs victorious in the previous two (21-17 over Stanford in 1990; and 17-14 over West Virginia in 2008).

– Folsom Field celebrated its 88th birthday on October 11, 2012. The Arizona State game was the sixth home game played on the anniversary of the 1924 opening of the stadium, with the Buffs falling to a 3-3 record on home games played on October 11th.

– Colorado fell to 21-21-1 while wearing all-black uniforms, and 1-3 when donning all-black helmets.

– The last kickoff return for a touchdown against the Buffs was by Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M, who turned the trick against Colorado in 2009 (the last kickoff return for a touchdown by a Buff also came in 2009, by Brian Lockridge against Oklahoma State).

– Junior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe had one of three CU sacks against Arizona State, giving him 15 for his career, moving him into a tie for 12th place (with his position coach, Kanavis McGhee, and a former teammate, Josh Hartigan) on the all-time list.

– Sophomore linebacker Woodson Greer and freshman free safety Marques Mosley picked up the first sacks of their careers.

– Freshman defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu made his first career start against Arizona State.

– Quarterback Jordan Webb became the 30th quarterback in CU history to pass for over 1,000 yards in a career, while sophomore running back Tony Jones became the 91st player to rush for over 500 yards in a career.

Half as Good … 

Perhaps the Colorado students have it right.

Walking into Folsom Field in time to watch Ralphie V do her thing before kickoff against Arizona State, Buff fans were met with a disquieting sight.

No one was there.

Twenty minutes before kickoff, Folsom Field was less than half filled. True, the stadium was pock-marked with black-clad fans, but there were just as many empty seats as filled ones. It was a silent – very silent – reflection of the state of the Colorado football program.

What was even more disconcerting was the complete lack of bodies in the student section. Now, there have been those (including myself) who have chastised the students for showing up late for games, but there were always the hard cores who wanted the good seats behind the CU bench, or along the railings so that they would have a shot at getting themselves on television. Still, despite a Thursday night game and the promise of national television coverage on ESPN, even those areas of the student section were sparsely populated.

Now, by the end of the first quarter, the student sections were filling up, and by halftime, the Black Sea was looking pretty good.

So, as it turns out, the students may have it right.

Colorado has been out-scored 65-21 in the first quarter this season, so apparently there is no real reason to get to the game early.

By contrast, the Buffs have been most productive in the second quarter, with 52 points on the season (no other quarter has generated more than 38 points), with 17 of those second quarter points coming against the Sun Devils.

A 20-17 halftime score had the Buffs and their fans thinking upset. As was the case with Arizona State (CU was a 23-point underdog) not much had been expected of the Buffs last November against the other Arizona school, and the Buffs had rallied for a huge – and unexpected – victory against the Wildcats. Perhaps Colorado would shake itself out of its September slumber, and would be a real competitor in the months of October and November.

And now, the Buffs were only down three … before being flogged 31-0 in the second half.

When asked about improvements which needed to be made for his team to be competitive in a game, CU head coach Jon Embree stated, “Playing a complete game; playing all four quarters; playing the second half like we played the first half.”

That first half/second half sentiment was echoed by several Buff players. “First half, we were able to get to the ball,” said junior linebacker Derrick Webb. “We were able to get to the ball and stop their zone run plays and surround their ball carrier so they had to get real creative with the running game and finding unconventional ways to run the ball and a lot of that was with the quarterback. In the second half, defense played hard but they were able to capitalize on the pressures we had”. Said senior linebacker Nick Kasa, “We just need to improve on what we did in the first two quarters.” And this from defensive back Terrel Smith: “Just look at the first half. In the second half we blew it.”

But the halftime score only told half the story.

Yes, the Buffs had scored ten points in the final 24 seconds of the first half to pull to within a field goal at 20-17, but the stats sheet told of a different game altogether. Arizona State had already amassed 303 yards of total offense in the first two periods, to 166 for Colorado. The Buffs had held the ball for 17:25 of the first half, but were only two-of-eight on third down attempts, had all of 39 yards rushing on 15 attempts, and, until the final minute of play, had generated only seven points.

The Arizona State offense, meanwhile, was very proficient when it had the ball in the first half. Taylor Kelly was ten-of-13 passing, going for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Sun Devil rushers were averaging over six yards per carry. Arizona State had punted only once, and was five-for-seven on third down conversion attempts.

Which stats sheet would you rather have?

Still, the second half had to be played, and Colorado was still in the game.

All the momentum, though, went out the 88-year old Folsom Field doors in the first 11 seconds of the third quarter. Rashad Ross returned the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown, a 27-17 Arizona State lead, and a whole new ballgame.

The Colorado offense did generate two first downs in its first drive of the second half, but that was it for the game while it was still competitive. By the time the CU offense generated another first down, there was less than ten minutes to be played, and no chance for a Buff comeback.

The Colorado drive sheet for the first five drives of the second half:

Six plays, 25 yards, punt;

Three plays, seven yards, punt;

Three plays, minus-three yards, punt;

Three plays, minus-five yards; punt; and

Three plays, one yard; punt.

This offensive drought allowed Arizona State to take control of the game. After holding the ball for only 32 plays in the first half, Arizona State ran 24 plays in the third quarter alone.

A fluke? Hardly.

Colorado has only scored 14 third quarter points in six games. Two third quarter touchdowns – one against Sacramento State and one against Washington State – are all the Buffs have to show for their third quarter adjustments in the first half of 2012.

So, where does the blame lie?

Yes, yes, Colorado is playing a bunch of young players. Colorado has played 13 true freshmen this season. LSU, Ohio State, Texas, and TCU, though, have each played 15 true freshmen so far in 2012, and, at last check, those teams are still making bowl plans, while Colorado fans are looking forward to the start of basketball season. (Okay, Ohio State is on probation, and won’t go to a bowl game, but you get the idea).

True, true, Colorado does not have much in the way of senior leadership, with only eight seniors in the lineup. The consensus No. 1 team in the land, Alabama, however, is playing with a roster which includes only nine seniors. So I’m guessing that excuse really doesn’t wash with the Buff Nation, either.

Well, the CU coaching staff is only in its second campaign, and needs time to install its systems and recruit its players.

But … five of the six teams Colorado faced in the first half of the season had first-year coaching staffs, and for the most part, they seem to be doing quite well in implementing new schemes and adopting to the rosters they inherited. None of the teams Colorado faced in the first half of 2012 had winning records in 2011, but four of the six are well on their way to winning seasons in 2012.

So, things can be turned around in a year – not two or three.

It’s been ugly … it’s about to get worse.

In the second half of the season, Colorado faces six teams, five of which had winning seasons in 2011. The present combined record of the next three opponents – USC, Oregon, and Stanford – is 14-2.

It is not a stretch to say that, if Chip Kelly wanted to, Oregon could score a 100 against Colorado.

Is it really that bad in Boulder?

It is true that, around 8:30 on Thursday night, the new $7 million Folsom Field scoreboards read: Arizona State 20, Colorado 17.

There was plenty of television competition for the Buffs and Sun Devils Thursday night. A viewer, while flipping between the Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, the baseball playoffs, the NFL game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee, and the Big Bang Theory, could have surmised that the game between the Sun Devils and the Buffs was a close one.

Such a conclusion, though, would be only half right …

October 11, 2019 – at Oregon           No. 13 Oregon 45, Colorado 3

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert completed 18-of-32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while his Colorado counterpart, Steven Montez went 19-for-34 for 131 yards … and a career-high four interceptions, as No. 13 Oregon routed Colorado, 45-3. The Buff offense was held to just under 300 total yards, while the Buff defense surrendered over 500 of total offense as the Ducks were successful both on the ground and through the air.

Alex Fontenot had 70 yards rushing on 15 carries, while Laviska Shenault returned to action for the first time in two games to post 70 yards receiving on only four catches. But it was much too little, much too late, as the Buff offense was its own worst enemy, with two major penalties committed after the Buffs pushed the ball inside the Oregon ten yard line … two of CU’s 14 penalties for 114 yards on the night.

“We feel like we can beat every team on our schedule but any team on our schedule, we can lose to, as well,” Mel Tucker said, “My experience in these type of situations is that it’s a very tough road to go down but we have to go down this road. There is no shortcut to success and where we want to get to. It really tests your character and your mettle, individually and as a team.”

Continue reading Game story here

1,111 Days – The Legacy of Steven Montez … 

Three years, two weeks, and two days.

With the Pac-12’s eight-year calendar rotation*, Oregon was off of CU’s schedule for the past two seasons. As a result, it was just over three years – 1,111 days, to be exact – between the 2016 game and the Buffs’ return visit to Eugene in 2019.

The last time Colorado played Oregon was on September 24, 2016. It was the sixth game played between the two teams as members of the Pac-12, with the Ducks winning the first five games by scores of 45-2; 70-14; 57-16; 44-10; and 41-24.

For those not willing to do the math, that’s an average score of 51-13.

That the Buffs entered Autzen Stadium in 2016 as only ten-point underdogs – with a quarterback making his first career start – was something of a surprise.

The bigger surprise came a few hours later, when red-shirt freshman Steven Montez led the Buffs to a 41-38 victory.

It’s been an interesting three years since that game, both for the two teams involved, and for Steven Montez.

Continue reading Game Essay here


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