CU Games of the Day – October 27th

October 27th … CU has a 3-3 record on this date over the past 40 years … 1984: Headlines: “Close, but …” and “No. 10 Oklahoma State survives CU 20-14” … 1990: In a game filled with anxious moments and big plays, No. 10 CU finally prevailed over the No. 22 Oklahoma Sooners, 32-23 (with video highlights) … 2001: No. 25 CU continued an agonizing pattern: play well early; let the opposition control the game for a significant portion of the mid-section of the game; then finish with a flourish, defeating Oklahoma State, 22-19 … 2007: Terrence Wheatley tied a school record with three interceptions in a game, leading the Buffs to a 31-26 win over Texas Tech … 2012: Oregon, the No. 2 team in the country, was a 47-point favorite at home over hapless Colorado. The line was an embarrassment for the CU program, but not half as embarrassing as the fact that the Ducks covered … by halftime … 2018: CU squandered a 31-3 third quarter lead, falling to Oregon State, 41-34, in overtime …

  • 1984: No. 10 Oklahoma State 20, Colorado 14 … The tried and true method for the Buffs had come through once again. A valiant defensive effort kept the Buffs in the game, but the offense could not capitalize on opportunities …
  • 1990: No. 10 Colorado 32, No. 22 Oklahoma 23 … The game turned on a controversial call by Oklahoma coach Gary Gibbs early in the fourth quarter which turned the momentum finally in the Buffs’ favor … Essay: “Return of Expectations” … 
  • 2001: No. 25 Colorado 22, Oklahoma State 19 …“We finished this thing,” Gary Barnett said.  “We barely finished it, but we finished it.  A year ago, we might not have finished it”… Essay“Bowl Eligible” …
  • 2007: Colorado 31, Texas Tech 26 … Against most teams, an 18-point lead with nineteen minutes to play would have seemed safe, but Texas Tech was not most teams … Essay: “Top Ten Lists” …
  • 2012: No. 2 Oregon 70, Colorado 14 … Sad to say, I was in Eugene for this game. We left after the third quarter, one of the few CU games I have not sat through to the bitter end … Essay:Green With Envy” … 
  • 2018: Oregon State 41, Colorado 34, OT … In one of the most embarrassing losses in CU history, the Buffs squandered a four-touchdown lead to a team which hadn’t beaten a Pac-12 foe in two years … Essay:Gut Punch” …

October 27, 1984 – at Oklahoma State            No. 10 Oklahoma State 20, Colorado 14

Junior Craig Keenan made his first start at quarterback at Colorado, earning the start on the road against Oklahoma State. Keenan replaced Colorado’s all-time passer Steve Vogel, but faced a real challenge, as the Buffs took the field against a top ten opponent for the second week in a row.

Colorado had played Nebraska tough the week before, leading 7-3 after three quarters …  but not tough enough to post a win.

History doesn’t always repeat itself.

Sometimes it rhymes.

The headlines from the Denver Post the morning after the Oklahoma State game tell all that you need to know about the game: “Close, but …” and “Oklahoma State survives CU 20-14”.

The tried and true method for the Buffs had come through once again. A valiant defensive effort kept the Buffs in the game, but the offense could not capitalize on the opportunities afforded by their opponent.

Keenan completed 10-of-25 passes for 178 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown connection with wide receiver Ron Brown. Brown’s 141 yards on four catches gave him 529 total yards for the season and an impressive 25.9 yards per catch average. The Buffs running game, however, again proved to be the Buffs’ downfall. With the Colorado defense keeping the Buffs in the game, Colorado needed to establish the run. Sadly, however, the Buffs failed to crack the 100 yard barrier for the third consecutive week.

Still, with four turnovers and linebacker Barry Remington’s 19 tackles, Colorado had a chance to win in the last minute of play. Trailing 20-14 with 1:21 left on the game clock, the Buffs took over at their own 20-yard line. Two time-outs remained, but the Buffs would be forced to drive 80 yards against the nation’s eighth-best defense, a 25-30 mph wind, and a hostile homecoming crowd of 47,800.

Colorado and Oklahoma State had engaged in several fantastic finishes in the 1980’s. Would this be another?

After a first down incompletion, Keenan went down with a knee bruise. Enter Steve Vogel, the hero of the 1981 11-10 win against these same Cowboys. Could Vogel reproduce his earlier magic?

Nope. Completions of 22 and 20 yards gave the Colorado faithful hope. Two sacks, however, snuffed the Buffs dreams of an upset. Instead, the scoreboard remained unchanged, 20-14, Oklahoma State. Colorado’s hope of defeating a top ten team for the first time since the 1975 squad beat Missouri, 31-20, was instead the Buffs’ seventh loss in eight games.

Vogel could not bring the Buffs back. His two completions, in three attempts, for 39 total yards, would be the last of his CU career.

Game Notes –

– The final score of 20-14 sounds mundane enough, but the game featured two safeties, three field goals, a missed extra point, and a two-point conversion. Oklahoma State earned both safeties, on a snap which went out of the endzone in the first quarter, and a tackle of Buffs’ running back Lee Rouson in the endzone in the third quarter.

– Not surprisingly, the two safeties by an opponent in one game set a Colorado record. In fact, only twice in school history (1982 and 1984) have the Buffs surrendered two safeties to an opponent in a season.

– Junior quarterback Craig Keenan would go on to start the final four games of the 1984 season, the only four starts of his career.

– The Buffs set a season high for rushing attempts against Oklahoma State, with 44, but it didn’t help. The Buffs netted only 59 yards rushing on the afternoon.

October 27, 1990 – Boulder           No. 10 Colorado 32, No. 22 Oklahoma 23

Like the Buffs, the Oklahoma entered the 1990 campaign with high hopes.

Five weeks into the season, the Sooners seemed to be well on their way to realizing their dreams. Oklahoma took a 5-0 record and a No. 4 national ranking to play Texas in Dallas, only to be turned away by the unranked Longhorns, 14-13. The loss was hard to take, but not nearly as debilitating as the loss the next week to Iowa State, 33-31. The upset by the Cyclones left the Sooners looking for answers as they headed to Boulder. Now ranked 22nd in the nation, Oklahoma was riding a two game regular season losing streak for the first time in almost a decade. Colorado already had a loss and a tie, but was undefeated in Big Eight play.

With Nebraska still undefeated, the Sooners and the Buffs knew that the loser of their game was likely out of the race for the Big Eight championship.

In a game filled with anxious moments and big plays, the Colorado Buffaloes finally prevailed over the Oklahoma Sooners, 32-23. Each team posted scores in all four quarters as neither team could take control. In fact, the game turned on a controversial call by Oklahoma coach Gary Gibbs early in the fourth quarter which turned the momentum finally in the Buffs’ favor.

The game started poorly in the eyes of most of the sellout crowd of 51,967. Oklahoma scored on its opening drive of the game, going 80 yards on 16 plays to take a 7-0 lead, with the six minute drive capped by a five-yard run by quarterback Cale Gundy. The Buffs responded with two Jim Harper field goals to cut the lead to 7-6 midway through the second.

Oklahoma quickly expanded the edge to 14-6, though, scoring on an 80-yard pass from Mike Gundy to Ted Long on the Sooners’ next play from scrimmage. The Buffs appeared to be reeling, as on Oklahoma’s next possession, the Sooners drove deep into Colorado territory. The Buffs’ defense stiffened, though, and Oklahoma was denied a 17-6 lead when a 37-yard field goal attempt by Oklahoma kicker R.D. Lasher was blocked by Colorado free safety Greg Thomas. “That was a big play,” coach Bill McCartney would say after the game. “It shifted things around.”

The Buffs managed to score just before half for the fifth consecutive game, with Darian Hagan connecting with Mike Pritchard from 12 yards out. The two-point conversion attempt failed, however, and Oklahoma took a 14-12 halftime edge into the lockerrooms.

Eric Bieniemy, who had 188 yards on 28 carries on the day, gave Colorado its first lead of the game, 18-14, early in the third quarter on a 69-yard run. The score was 18-17, Colorado, when the game turned on just a handful of plays.

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, the Sooners were driving. At the Colorado 11-yard line, Oklahoma faced a fourth-and-one. Eschewing the easy field goal, Oklahoma head coach Gary Gibbs went for the first down. On the option play, the mainstay of the Sooner offense, tailback Dewell Brewer was dropped by safety Tim James for a four yard loss. “I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, they’ve got something they know will work’,” said Bill McCartney. “I don’t know what their thinking was, but I’m not going to second-guess them. But it certainly didn’t hurt us.”

Taking over on their own 15-yard line, the Buffs immediately capitalized, with Hagan connecting with junior tight end Rico Smith for an 85-yard touchdown pass. A few minutes later, Sooner quarterback Steve Collins, subbing for an injured Cale Gundy, was intercepted, and Darian Hagan scored on a three-yard run. What had appeared to be a go-ahead drive by the Sooners just a few moments earlier was now a 32-17 Colorado lead.

After the game, Gibbs defended his call. “Three points wasn’t going to win the football game for us,” said the Sooner head coach about his fourth down call. “We felt the odds were in our favor. But Colorado did a nice job of taking away the option we had called.” Said Colorado head coach Bill McCartney: “I was surprised when they went for it on fourth down.” Tim James, who made the momentum-swinging tackle, was not. “I wasn’t surprised so much”, said the senior safety, “because they’re so arrogant. I knew they’d go for it.”

Gibbs’ gamble paid off well – for the Buffs. Oklahoma, losers now of three consecutive games (for the first time in 25 seasons), fell out of the Big Eight race (though the Sooners would respond with three wins to finish the season 8-3). Now Colorado and Nebraska stood alone, and were set now to do battle in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers were 8-0, ranked third in the country, moving up one spot after No. 2 Auburn had to block an extra point late to preserve an 18-17 win over Mississippi State. The Buffs also moved up one spot in the new poll, to No. 9 overall.

Six teams, including No. 7 Washington, were still receiving first place votes. For Colorado, the opportunity was there; the math was simple.

Beat Nebraska, and national prominence would be restored.

A loss to the Cornhuskers, on the other hand, meant a third blemish on the season record, and a mid-major bowl at best.

The Nebraska/Colorado duel was an all-or-nothing proposition – and the Colorado Buffaloes would choose “nothing” for three quarters against Nebraska … then take it all.

Great Expectations

If any team in the nation could be unhappy about a No. 3 ranking and an 8-0 record, it was Nebraska. The Cornhuskers had posted gaudy offensive numbers, scoring over 40 points in five of its wins (including two games over 60 points). The Nebraska defense led the nation in fewest yards and points allowed. But for all of the statistics, Nebraska could not generate the national attention it desired.

The Colorado game, the ninth game of the season, would represent only the second television appearance of the season for the Cornhuskers. The media perception was that Colorado had played a tough schedule, while Nebraska would be facing its first true test of the season the first weekend of November. “We certainly, admittedly, have not played anywhere near the schedule Colorado has played and yet we’ve survived some reasonable teams”, said Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne. “They (Colorado) have not had many patsies.”

A Nebraska win would all but assure the Cornhuskers of an Orange Bowl invitation, and a likely opportunity to play Virginia or Notre Dame for the national title.

A Colorado win would breathe life into the national title aspirations of a number of teams, including the Buffs.

Here is the YouTube video of the game:

Game Notes …

– For his 13-tackle performance (which included a sack), senior defensive tackle Garry Howe was named the Big Eight Defensive Player-of-the-Week.

– The Oklahoma game was the only game in the entire 1990 season in which Colorado did not suffer a fumble.

– After throwing only four touchdown passes in the Buffs’ first eight games, quarterback Darian Hagan had two touchdown passes against Oklahoma, going for 12 yards to Mike Pritchard, and 85 yards to Rico Smith. Before the Oklahoma game, Rico Smith, a junior college transfer, had seven catches totaling 165 yards for the entire season. The 85-yard touchdown was the fourth longest pass completion in Colorado history (the longest being a 90-yarder from Marc Walters to Jeff Campbell v. Kansas State in 1988).

– The 460 yards of total offense was the most for Colorado against Oklahoma since 1976 (when the Buffs put up 477 yards in a 42-31 victory).

– The win gave Colorado back-to-back victories in the series against Oklahoma for the first time since 1965-66, and was only the 10th victory ever for the Buffs against the Sooners (10-34-1). Some of the sobering numbers about the Colorado/Oklahoma series … coming into the game in 1990, Oklahoma had a 15-5-1 record against Colorado in Boulder … In the all-time series, Oklahoma held a scoring edge of 1288-633 (a score of 29-14, on average) … the last Colorado win over Oklahoma in Boulder had come in 1976.

– Oklahoma’s score on its first possession marked the eighth time in nine games in which the Colorado opponent scored first (the lone exception being the Kansas game).

– Eric Bieniemy’s seventh 100-yard game in eight outings (Bieniemy had 99 yards against Texas) helped move the senior into second place on the all-time total offense list. Bieniemy had 188 yards against Oklahoma, giving him 3,612 yards of total offense, passing Steve Vogel (3,501; 1981-84).

– The sellout crowd of 51,967 marked the third consecutive sellout at Folsom Field, and only the second time in Colorado history (1972) in which the Buffs had drawn 50,000+ in four consecutive home games.

 October 27, 2001 – at Oklahoma State          No. 25 Colorado 22, Oklahoma State 19

Against Oklahoma State, Colorado continued what was becoming an agonizing pattern for the 2001 season: play well early; let the opposition control the game for a significant portion of the mid-section of the game; then finish with a flourish.

The formula had worked well against Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, and now was a successful formula against the Cowboys.  The net result was a hard-fought 22-19 win in Stillwater.

On CU’s opening drive, quarterback Craig Ochs hit 27-year old senior wide receiver Matt Brunson for a 74-yard touchdown to put the Buffs up 7-0.  After linebacker Andy Peeke partially blocked an OSU punt on the Cowboys’ next possession, the Buffs were set up at the OSU 26-yard line.

The Buffs were up a score, and had the 2-5 Cowboys on the ropes.  A holding penalty and a missed 35-yard field goal attempt by Jeremy Flores later, however, Oklahoma State was back in the game.

With 9:20 left in the first half and Colorado maintaining a 7-0 lead, Craig Ochs was sacked.  Ochs was injured on the play, straining a tendon in his right ankle, and did not return.

Oklahoma State quickly capitalized, putting together an 85-yard drive to tie the score.  Moments later, CU long-snapper Jake Jones centered the ball over punter Mark Mariscal’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.  9-7, OSU.

Adding insult to injury, on the ensuing drive, quarterback Bobby Pesavento, subbing for Ochs, was hit as he passed.  The pass was intercepted by OSU linebacker Dwayne Levels, who returned the ball 57 yards for an unlikely 16-7 Oklahoma State lead at halftime.

In the third, the Buffs continued to move the ball, but were unable to muster any points until the last play of the quarter.  Down 19-7 after a Cowboy field goal, Marcus Houston brought the Buffs back to within 19-14 with a 16-yard touchdown run.

The fourth quarter, while tense, was dominated by the Buffs.

The Colorado defense gave up drives which entered Buff territory, but did not surrender any more points.  Twice Oklahoma State was forced to give up the ball on downs, and Buff safety Michael Lewis contributed an interception on a ball tipped by teammate Kory Mossoni.

The game’s winning points came with 5:55 remaining, as Bobby Pesavento hit tight end Daniel Graham from 21 yards out to put the Buffs up 20-19.  Two unsportsmanlike penalties – one for Graham spiking the ball, the other for tackle Victor Rogers removing his helmet – put the Buffs at the 33-yard line.  With nothing to lose, the Buffs went for two points.  Bobby Pesavento proceeded to hit Derek McCoy alone in the end zone for the 22-19 final.

“That was a struggle and a fight,” said Gary Barnett after the game.  “We overcame what we were doing to ourselves (including 13 penalties for 112 yards).”

Victor Rogers and Daniel Graham, seniors who had seen the Buffs fail to come back during multiple losses during the 2000 campaign, gave speeches during halftime when the Buffs were down 16-7.  “Coach Barnett said a couple of things to get us motivated, and it was senior leadership after that,” said Rogers.

Pesavento, subbing for Ochs for the second consecutive game, completed 15-of-20 passes for 180 yards.  Bobby Purify posted the 2nd 100-yard game of his career, rushing for 109 yards on 23 carries on the night.  But it wasn’t statistics which beat Oklahoma State, it was a new found sense of confidence.  The 3-8 Buffs in 2000 found ways to lose close games.  The 6-2 (4-1) 2001 Buffs were finding ways to win.

“We finished this thing,” Barnett said.  “We barely finished it, but we finished it.  A year ago, we might not have finished it.”

The win kept the Buffs at No. 25 in the polls.  Up next was 3-4 (2-3 in Big 12 play) Missouri.  The Tigers were a tough read. Missouri lost to Bowling Green in Gary Pinkel’s first game as head coach, but trailed Texas only 10-7 at halftime before succumbing, 36-15, in the game leading up to the match-up against the Buffs.

As the calendar turned to November, the Buffs still controlled their own destiny.  Wins against Missouri, Iowa State (6-2, 4-1), and No. 2 Nebraska (9-0, 5-0), would put the Buffs in the Big 12 title game for the first time.  Colorado was already bowl eligible with its sixth win of the season.

The month of November would determine which bowl the Buffs would be invited to attend.

Bowl Eligible

Brad called right after CU’s first score.

Randy was over, and we were watching the night game from Stillwater on FoxSportsNet.  The call was unusual, as we would normally wait until halftime to connect.  But it seemed reasonable.  The Buffs had stopped Oklahoma State on the Cowboys’ first drive, and then CU had taken all of five plays to put points on the board.  We hung up a few minutes later after the Buffs took over on the OSU 26-yard line after a partially blocked punt.  It appeared as if CU’s first easy win since early September was in the making.

But then things turned ugly.

By the time I called Brad at the half, CU was down 16-7, and we were both more frustrated than ever.  The Buffs didn’t seem to have much difficulty moving the ball, but penalties and bad timing had resulted in a nine-point deficit.  Taking a safety, followed by witnessing a linebacker rumble 57 yards for a score on an interception?  Surely the Buffs would right the ship in the second half.

By the time Brad called again, just after Marcus Houston ran for a first down to seal the 22-19 win, we were both emotionally drained. The Buffs had played hard in the second half, but a similar overall effort would not be successful against Nebraska, and perhaps not even against Iowa State.  If the unlikely dream of playing for the Big 12 Championship was to continue to be plausible, the Buffs would have to improve play in all facets of the game.

But who were we to complain?

After a 3-8 season, 6-2, no matter how achieved, looked pretty darn good.  When Brad called, I told him, “I have only two words for you to take from this game”, pausing for effect, ‘bowl eligible’ ”.

Barring an 0-3 collapse and a resurgence from other teams in the Big 12, it appeared certain that CU would be playing to extend its NCAA-best current string of six consecutive bowl wins.  The Buffs were not winning pretty, but at least they were winning.

I was more than willing to take it.

 Game Notes … 

– The Buffs’ opening drive covered 99 yards, becoming the sixth such drive in school history. It had been ten years since it had happened before, when it happened twice in the same game (v. Oklahoma, 10/19/91).

– To defeat Oklahoma State, the Buffs had to overcome a 12-point deficit. As of the 2001 comeback, it had only occurred 18 times in school history, with the most recent such rally taking place in a 1997 game against Iowa State (down 35-17; winning 43-38).

– The 33-yard two-point conversion is probably a record – the NCAA does not keep track of such abnormalities.

– Colorado’s win over Oklahoma State represented the Buffs’ first win in a night game since 1998 (an 18-16 win over Baylor, 9/26/98). After the Baylor win, Colorado lost its next four games played under the lights prior to the win over Oklahoma State.

– The afternoon prior to the Colorado/Oklahoma State game, Nebraska and Oklahoma squared off in the “Game of the Year”. Both were undefeated, with Oklahoma ranked No. 2; Nebraska No. 3. Behind quarterback Eric Crouch, whose 66-yard touchdown catch on a trick play may have won him his Heisman, the Cornhuskers prevailed in Lincoln, 20-10.

– The loss to Colorado was the fourth of five in a row for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, under first year head coach Les Miles (and, interestingly enough, first year offensive coordinator Mike Gundy), won their final two games of the season, including a 16-13 upset win over No. 4 Oklahoma, to finish the 2001 season 4-7, 2-6.

October 27, 2007 – at Texas Tech           Colorado 31, Texas Tech 26

Senior cornerback Terrence Wheatley tied a school record with three interceptions in a game, leading the Buffs to a 31-26 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock. Linebacker Jordon Dizon picked off a fourth pass from Red Raider quarterback Graham Harrell, returning his interception 42 yards for a touchdown, as Colorado improved its chances of going bowling with its fifth win of the season.

The Buffs’ game plan against the potent offense of Texas Tech was clear from the outset: don’t give up big plays on defense; ball control on offense.

This scheme worked out perfectly early on, as Colorado jumped out to a 14-0 lead. The Red Raiders were able to move into Buff territory on the opening drive of the game, but stalled just over midfield. Colorado then put together a ten-play, 91-yard drive, culminated by a 31-yard touchdown run by tailback Hugh Charles to take a 7-0 lead.

After Texas Tech missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, Colorado strung together another impressive drive, this one covering 75 yards. On fourth-and-goal at the Tech two yard line, CU head coach Dan Hawkins went for the touchdown instead of the field goal. A Cody Hawkins pass was nearly intercepted (and would have been returned 100 yards for a tying score), but instead found tight end Riar Geer, raising the Buff lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter.

On the Red Raiders’ next possession, Terrence Wheatley intercepted his first pass of the afternoon, returning the ball to the Tech 20-yard line. The Buffs could not capitalize, however, as Kevin Eberhart missed a field goal from 25 yards out. Two Texas Tech field goals, the last coming on the last play of the first half, left the score 14-6, Colorado, at halftime.

For the Buffs, the second half started out as well as the first.

Colorado’s opening drive resulted in a 44-yard field goal by Eberhart to up the lead to 17-6. Two plays later, the lead was up to 24-6, as Jordon Dizon intercepted Graham Herrell’s first offering of the third quarter 42 yards for a Colorado touchdown. For Dizon, who was named as one of the nine semifinalists for the Butkus Award earlier in the week, it was his second interception of the season, and his first points as a Buff.

Still, against a team which came into the contest averaging 45 points and over 500 yards of total offense a game, there was still too much time left for the Buffs to start celebrating. It took Texas Tech only five plays and 1:30 off the third quarter clock for the Red Raiders to claim their first touchdown of the game, with Herrell connecting with receiver Eric Morris for a 31-yard touchdown to pull Tech to within 24-13.

With the 49,084 in attendance into the game for the first time, it would have been the appropriate time for the inconsistent Buffs to start making mistakes. Instead, the CU offense put together a time consuming, 13-play, 75-yard drive. Cody Hawkins hit Hugh Charles on a six-yard touchdown pass to put the Buffs back up by three scores, 31-13, with 4:00 left in the third quarter.

Against most teams, an 18-point lead with nineteen minutes to play would have seemed safe, but Texas Tech was not most teams. Just before the end of the quarter, Herrell hit freshman phenom Michael Crabtree from 19 yards out to make the score 31-19 (the two-point conversion attempt failed). The pass went right through the hands of Terrence Wheatley, who was in a dogfight with the record-breaking Crabtree all afternoon.

In each of its next two possessions, the Colorado offense went nowhere, as the Texas Tech defense finally made a stand. However, each time the Buff defense came to the rescue. More precisely, Terrence Wheatley came to the rescue, as the senior cornerback twice intercepted Graham Herrell to help preserve the Buffs’ lead.

When Texas Tech finally did manage to score, it took them 17 plays, three fourth down conversions, and over four minutes of precious clock time to accomplish the feat. An onsides kick was recovered by Colorado with just over two minutes to play, and the Buffs were able to run out the clock from there on to preserve the 31-26 win.

On the day, Texas Tech amassed 470 total yards. Red Raider quarterback Graham Harrell completed 46 passes in 62 attempts for 431 yards. Conversely, Colorado was held to 349 yards of total offense, and quarterback Cody Hawkins threw for only 123 yards. Still, Harrell had the four interceptions, and Hawkins had his first interception free game of his career. Texas Tech had no running game to speak of, while the Buffs had 217 yards on the ground, led by Hugh Charles, who had 121 yards on 20 carries.

“It was another day at the office,” said Charles, who had his fifth 100-yard game in the past six outings for the Buffs, and the 10th 100+ game of his career. “It was great to be back in Texas (the senior came to Boulder from Keller, Texas) and see some of my friends and family at the game. I get a lot of motivation from them.”

The road win over Texas Tech gave the Buffs their fifth win of the season. At 5-4 (3-2 in the Big 12), Colorado was one win away from being bowl eligible, with two of the final three games to be played at home.

Up next for the Buffs was a game against Missouri in Boulder. The Tigers would come to Boulder as a top ten team, moving up to No. 9 in the polls after raising their record to 7-1 in defeating Iowa State, 42-28.

Iowa State (1-8, 0-5) and Nebraska (4-5, 1-4) seemed like much better options for the Buffs to seek out their sixth win. On the other hand, a win over a top ranked team could potentially propel a 6-4 Colorado team into the polls for the first time in two seasons.

Dare to dream.

Top Ten Lists … 

The win over Texas Tech was huge in many respects. First and foremost, it put the Buffs in a position to go bowling at the end of the season. That the bowl was likely to be a lower-tier bowl was irrelevant. Extra practices for such a young team would be worth its weight in gold. Second, the win demonstrated the continued growth of the program. There was much to be excited about for the future, with positive spin and press to be the new norm, not the exception.

Lost in all the excitement about the future, though, were the accomplishments of the small band of Buff seniors. The CU football class of ‘07 has only 17 seniors, but they had placed their names among the elite in the history of Colorado football.

With his 121 yards rushing against Texas Tech, Hugh Charles moved into the top ten in career rushing yards at Colorado. His new total of 2,352 moved him past Lamont Warren and Lee Rouson into 9th place, just 15 yards behind Bobby Anderson. Charles also spent his Saturday in Lubbock moving into the top ten in the all-time Yards-from-Scrimmage list. His 121 yards rushing, coupled with his 26 yards receiving, gave Charles a career total of 2,828 yards from scrimmage. This new total was good enough to pass James Mayberry, Rae Carruth, and Chris Brown, placing Charles 8th on the all-time list. In a third category, All-Purpose yards, Charles moved into 16th place all-time, but was only 121 combined rushing and/or receiving yards away from being in the top ten in that category as well.

Also on the offensive side of the ball, senior wide receiver Dusty Sprague was poised to join the top ten in two receiving categories. Three more catches and 110 more receiving yards, and Sprague would move into the top ten on both lists.

Not to be outdone, there were two performers on the defensive side of the ball who would not soon be forgotten by Buff faithful. Senior linebacker Jordon Dizon, who made the national highlights with his interception return for a touchdown against Texas Tech, also became only the fifth player in CU history to record 400 tackles in a career. Dizon was also poised to join the top ten in CU annals in another category, Tackles-for-Loss. One of the favorites for Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker, Dizon led the nation in tackles on the season.

And then there was Terrence Wheatley. Wheatley’s three interceptions against the Red Raiders gave him 14 on his career, good enough for a tie for third place on the all-time list. Wheatley needed one more interception to break his tie with Dick Anderson and move into a tie with Chris Hudson for second, and two more to tie the all-time leader at CU, John Stearns. Wheatley was also in the top ten all-time in Pass Deflections, and, with 82 yards in kickoff returns against Texas Tech, moved past Walter Stanley and M.J. Nelson into second place on the all-time kickoff returns list.

Throw in Stephone Robinson, a senior who made his mark in moving to seventh place in both punt returns and kickoff returns – mostly prior to the 2007 season – and you had a great senior class of contributors. While the future of the program looked bright, and while there were freshman class records being set weekly by the likes of Cody Hawkins, Scotty McKnight, and Josh Smith, there was much to be thankful for from this class of seniors.

Game Notes …

—  Terrence Wheatley had three interceptions against Texas Tech, tying a school record. The latest of the seven other occasions occurred in 1982, when Victor Scott had three interceptions against Oklahoma State, a game which ended in a 25-25 tie;

— Wheatley’s two interceptions in one quarter (the fourth) also tied a school record. Wheatley became the tenth CU player to turn the trick, the most recent of the other nine accomplished by Terrence Wood in 2000 against Colorado State (a 28-24 loss);

— Cody Hawkins threw for a touchdown pass for the ninth consecutive game, tying a school record set in 1996 by Koy Detmer. Hawkins 2,090 passing yards and 15 touchdowns are both freshman season records;

— Hawkins also made news for what he didn’t do. The game against Texas Tech marked the first time this season in which Hawkins did not throw an interception;

— With 56 yards receiving against the Red Raiders, Josh Smith took over the lead from Scotty McKnight for the freshman season receiving record. Smith had 399 yards receiving on the year; McKnight had 393 (the previous record for a freshman receiver for a season was 343 yards);

– The Buffs’ win in Lubbock represented the first win for Colorado on the road against the Red Raiders. All of the previous eight games in the series had been won by the home team.

October 27, 2012 – at Oregon          No. 2 Oregon 70, Colorado 14

Oregon, the No. 2 team in the country, was a 47-point favorite at home over hapless Colorado. The line was an embarrassment for the CU program, but not half as embarrassing as the fact that the Ducks covered … by halftime.

Oregon ran through, around, and over the Colorado defense, scoring touchdowns on all seven first half possessions en route to a 56-0 halftime lead and 70-14 rout. The Ducks amassed a ridiculous 425 yards rushing, and 617 yards of total offense, holding the inept Buff offense to 245 yards of total offense. The game was so out of hand that Oregon’s backup quarterback, Bryan Bennett, out-scored the Colorado offense, three touchdowns to two.

The students at Oregon, much like their counterparts at Colorado, arrived fashionably late for the game. Unlike their Buff counterparts, however, the Duck fans missed the only competitive moments of the game with their tardiness.

Oregon won the coin toss to start the game. Most teams defer, opting to take the ball to start the second half. The Ducks, though, averaging 51 points per game, and well aware that Colorado had been scored upon in the opening 50 seconds of the game the week before by USC, decided to put the Buffs out of their misery early.

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Green with Envy … 

Autzen stadium in Eugene has become one of the most respected home venues in college football. Oregon has a loud and boisterous home crowd, and has become a difficult place for visiting teams to play.

Autzen stadium underwent a $90 million facelift ten years ago, with 12,000 seats and 32 luxury boxes added. The new addition brought the stadium capacity all the way up to …. 54,000.

That’s right. With all of the Nike money invested in the University of Oregon athletics, Autzen Stadium has a grand total of 387 more seats than Colorado’s Folsom Field.

Which gives some perspective as to how far the University of Oregon has come in the past decade or so. The Ducks are now a perennial ten-win team, and have been in the national championship conversation for most of the 21st century. Colorado is seven seasons removed from its last winning campaign, and hasn’t been ranked since 2007.

But it wasn’t always this way …

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October 27, 2018 – Boulder           Oregon State 41, Colorado 34 OT

Colorado squandered a 31-3 third quarter lead, falling to Oregon State, 41-34, in overtime. A Travon McMillian 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter raised a 24-3 halftime advantage to a four-touchdown lead. From there, however, the Beavers out-scored the Buffs 31-3, forcing overtime. Oregon State scored on its overtime possession, with the Buffs failing to answer as a Steven Montez pass fell incomplete on fourth-and-goal at the OSU seven yard line.

“I guess you’d call this a gut-wrencher,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said after his Buffaloes matched their biggest blown lead in program history. “We were rolling,” MacIntyre said, “and the wheels just rolled right off.”

The loss spoiled a career-day for Buff wide receiver K.D. Nixon, who set a single-game career-high in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, finishing with 13 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also established a career-high in first downs with eight.

“My best game turned into my worst game,” Nixon said.

The Buffs out-gained the Beavers, 536 yards to 459, but Buff quarterback Steven Montez was out-dueled by Beaver quarterback Jake Luton. Montez went 24-for-39 for 319 yards and two touchdowns, while Luton went 28-for-39 for 310 yards and three touchdowns … all in the second half, as Luton replaced an ineffective Jack Colletto after the break.

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Gut Punch … 

At just past 5:00 p.m., sunshine was beating down on Folsom Field.

On an otherwise perfect 68-degree fall afternoon, the sun had come out earlier, just as the Oregon State offense caught fire. The Beavers had rallied from a 31-3 deficit to make it a 34-28 game late in the fourth quarter.

As the game neared its four hour mark, the sun hid behind a cloud, giving those of us on the east side of the stadium a bit of relief from the sun’s rays. It had been cloudy as the Buffs build a 28-point lead, so I was hoping that the return of the clouds would also mean the return of order for the Buffs … and somehow the Colorado defense would figure out a way to make a play against an Oregon State team which hadn’t beaten an FBS team in almost two full years.

My wish was not granted.

Instead, the sun came back out, and a defense which had given up only 16 fourth quarter points in the first seven games of the 2018 season, gave up 24 to the worst team the Pac-12 had to offer.

It was a disaster four hours in the making.

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