CU Games of the Day – October 2nd

October 2nd … CU has an 1-2 record on this date over the past 40 years, with the one victory a memorable one over Georgia … 1982: No. 9 UCLA had little trouble with CU, taking out the Buffs, 34-6, in Boulder … 2004: Missouri quarterback Brad Smith generated just enough offense to lead Missouri to a 17-9 win over Colorado in the Big 12 conference opener for both teams … 2010: CU and Georgia both blow double-digit leads before a fumble recovery with less than two minutes to play preserves a 29-27 Buff victory …

  • 1982: No. 9 UCLA 34, Colorado 6 … UCLA’s first-ever venture into Folsom was a pleasant one, with the Buffs finishing non-conference play 1-3 in Bill McCartney’s first season … Essay: “Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?” … The Bruins had such an easy time of it, they were able to play a backup quarterback – Rick Neuheisel
  • 2004: Missouri 17, Colorado 9 … The defense played well enough to win, but a road victory was not in the offing … Essay: “Unhappy Birthday”… Quarterback Erik Greenberg and wide receiver Evan Judge both had October 2nd birthdays, but the game didn’t give them much reason to celebrate … 
  • 2010: Colorado 29, Georgia 27 … With less than two minutes to play, the Georgia Bulldogs were positioned for a game-winning field goal. Instead, CU linebacker B.J. Beatty forced a fumble by Bulldog running back Caleb King at the Buff 30 yard line. Fellow linebacker Jon Major fell on the ball, preserving a 29-27 victory for Colorado … Essay: “Is it Too Much To Ask?” … Reminded that I had believed that it would take two or three second half turnovers for the Buffs to win – and yet had produced none in reclaiming the lead – I couldn’t help but mutter … “Is it too much to ask?” …

Check out the stories for all three games below …

October 2, 1982 – Boulder           No. 9 UCLA 34, Colorado 6

For Bruin fans, there was little reason to believe that UCLA’s first-ever visit to Boulder would be anything but a pleasant one.

Colorado did little to discredit its role as compliant host, falling 34-6 to the 9th-ranked Bruins. UCLA came into the game 3-0, fresh off of two road wins against Big 10 teams. In the weeks leading up to UCLA’s trip to Boulder, UCLA had beaten back a red sea of Wisconsin fans at Madison, going on to beat the winningest program of all time, Michigan, at one of the shrines of the game, Ann Arbor.

Folsom Field and the 1-2 Buffs would not intimidate this squad.

The game itself was never in doubt. The anemic Colorado offense produced only two long range Tom Field field goals as the Bruins cruised to a 34-6 win. The Buff defense again put in a credible effort, holding UCLA to 10 points until Bruin quarterback Tom Ramsey connected with split end Donnie Williams on a 50-yard bomb in the last minute of the first half to up the score to 17-6 at halftime. “In my mind, that touchdown was the big play of the game,” said McCartney. “We really needed to go in at halftime down 10-6. It would have put some pressure on them.”

The quick touchdown at the end of the half seemed to take the wind out of the Buffs sails. The second half was a 17-0 shutout for UCLA, with Colorado only posting 192 yards of total offense on the day. Randy Essington returned as starter at quarterback, but managed only 114 yards passing. His primary target was freshman running back Chris McLemore, who had seven catches for 44 yards.

With the game no longer in doubt, and the second half only allowed for some unforeseen irony.

Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?

The highlights of the 1982 UCLA game came in its ironies.

Colorado head coach Bill McCartney had been victorious against virtually the same UCLA squad less than a year earlier. At the time, however, he was the defensive coordinator for Michigan as the Wolverines rolled to a 33-14 Bluebonnet Bowl win over the Bruins.

Meanwhile, wearing a relatively unsoiled uniform for the Bruins that day in Boulder was a junior backup quarterback from Tempe, Arizona. He did not see significant action in the 1982 Colorado game, coming in only for mop-up duty in the fourth quarter. The quarterback’s statistics for the day were unremarkable: four completions in eight attempts for 58 yards; sacked twice for a loss of 14 yards.

Nonetheless, the anonymous quarterback’s presence in Boulder is noteworthy. The quarterback’s name?

Rick Neuheisel.

Game Notes … 

– The game was only the third in the series with UCLA, and the first in Boulder. Colorado fell to 0-3 in the series, and would not post a win until the fifth game with the Bruins, a 31-17 win in Los Angeles in 2002.

– Chris McLemore’s seven catches was a season high by a Buff in a single game in 1982. McLemore’s total was matched later in the season by Donnie Holmes (v. Nebraska) and by Dave Hestera (v. Kansas State).

– Senior linebacker Alan Chrite followed up a 16 tackle performance against Wyoming with another 14 against UCLA. Those 30 tackles represented a third of his 90 tackles on the season.

– UCLA went on to a 10-1-1 season in 1982, with a tie with Arizona the week after game against Colorado, and a 10-7 loss to No. 10 Washington the first week of November. The Bruins finished 5-1-1 in Pac-10 play, earning a trip to the Rose Bowl as the conference champions. After a 24-14 victory over No. 19 Michigan, the Bruins finished the 1982 season as the No. 5 team in the nation.

 October 2, 2004 – at Missouri          Missouri 17, Colorado 9

Missouri quarterback Brad Smith generated just enough offense to lead Missouri to a win over Colorado in the Big 12 conference opener for both teams, 17-9.  Pre-season All-American Smith passed for 186 yards and ran for 76 more in leading the Tigers to their first win in six tries against a Gary Barnett-coached Buff squad.

Statistically, the Tigers dominated, holding the ball for ten minutes longer than the Buffs, and out-gaining Colorado, 415-254.  But Missouri couldn’t capitalize, missing three field goals and suffering 70 yards in penalties, including an offensive pass interference call which negated a touchdown late in the first half.

Missouri and Smith started out well, scoring on an 80-yard drive to start the game.  The Buffs countered with a long drive of their own, but had to settle for a 21-yard Mason Crosby field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 late in the first quarter.  After a 45-yard field goal by Missouri kicker Joe Tantarelli upped the Tiger advantage to 10-3, a four-yard touchdown run by Bobby Purify cut the lead to 10-9, with the Tigers retaining the lead after the extra point attempt was blocked.

Missouri opened the second half in much the same manner as the first, scoring on its first drive, this time with Brad Smith connecting with wide receiver Sean Coffey on a 51-yard catch and run touchdown to put the Tigers up 17-9 with 11:24 left in the third quarter.  Little did the 60,000 on hand at Faurot Field, the largest crowd to witness a Colorado game in Columbia since 1980, realize that the Coffey touchdown would be the last points of the game.

The Tigers squandered multiple opportunities to put the Buffs away, missing on three field goals while holding the Buffs’ offense at bay. Colorado could only muster two second half first downs.  Star running back Bobby Purify went down with a re-occurring shoulder injury on the first play of the third quarter, and while he did return in the fourth quarter, he was just as ineffective as the rest of the Colorado offense.  “We just couldn’t make the plays we needed to make,” said Gary Barnett.  “We shot ourselves in the foot.”

Still, the Buffs had chances to pull out another miraculous win.  Senior safety J.J. Billingsley forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter, setting up the Colorado offense in Missouri territory.  The Buffs did manage to get the ball inside the Missouri ten-yard line, but, on second-and-goal from the eight, cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell intercepted a Joel Klatt pass to Evan Judge in the end zone, ending the Colorado threat.

The Klatt-to-Judge pass looked for a moment to be a Colorado touchdown.  Both Judge and Mitchell went up for the ball, with Judge taking the pass at the outset.  But as the players fell to the ground, Mitchell grabbed the ball away from Judge.  With 6:47 left to play, the only Colorado threat of the second half was over.

With the loss, the Buffs fell to 3-1 overall, 0-1 in conference play.  More importantly, Colorado fell, in essence, two games behind the Tigers in the race for the Big 12 North title.  Still, after one conference game, there was much left to be determined.   Kansas State, another preseason pick to win the North, fell 41-30 to Texas A&M in its conference opener, while perennial powerhouse Nebraska just managed to hold off Kansas, 14-8 at home.

Up next for the Buffs was 22nd-ranked Oklahoma State, 36-7 winners over Iowa State.  The game against the undefeated Cowboys represented a crossroads for the 2004 Buffs.  A win over a ranked team would propel a 4-1 Colorado team into the second half of the season with great optimism.  A second consecutive defeat would make the first two emotional wins over Colorado State and Washington State seem more and more like aberrations.

Un-Happy Birthday

Colorado junior back-up quarterback Erik Greenberg celebrated his 24th birthday in Columbia, failing to see any action against the Tigers.  Greenberg had seen action in seven Buff games to that point in his Colorado career, including two starts in 2003, but would not take the field on October 2nd.

Evan Judge was not so lucky.

October 2nd also happened to be Evan Judge’s birthday.  The junior wide-out turned 22 while on the field against the Tigers.  For the day, Judge had four catches for 37 yards, raising his team leading totals for the season to 13 catches for 183 yards and one touchdown.

But it will be the one catch Judge didn’t make that was the birthday surprise Judge did not want.

The Buffs, inept on offense for the second time in three games, had no business being in the game late in the fourth quarter against the Tigers.  Missouri had dominated, but, thanks to three missed field goals by the Tigers, combined with some timely plays by the Buff defense, Colorado trailed by only a touchdown throughout the second half.  One play, along with a two point conversion, could send the Buffs into overtime against Missouri for the third time in six years.  One play would make up for the lack of offense and missed opportunities.  One fantastic play – and Colorado would be the most unlikely 4-0 team in the nation.

On second-and-goal from the eight yard line, Joel Klatt lofted a pass to the far corner.  Only Evan Judge and Missouri cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell were out there.  Both leapt for the ball.  Judge leapt higher, and had the ball in his arms.  Gravity, though, brought him and the ball down to earth, with Mitchell in the way.  Mitchell had his hands on the ball as well, and ripped the ball from Judge on the way down.

The play was ruled a touchback instead of touchdown.  Colorado never threatened again.

“It was a big letdown”, said the birthday boy.  “I had a chance to be a hero, and it didn’t come out like that.”

At breakfast on the morning before the game, my wife Lee asked me how I felt about the upcoming game against the Tigers.  “Queasy”, was my reply.  The Buffs had won two games which they could well have lost.  Missouri, despite the surprise loss to Troy, was still a talented team.

After the game, I was certainly disappointed, but had come away with new respect for the 2004 Buffs.  They certainly were a resilient bunch. With the offense going nowhere, the much-maligned defense made just enough plays to give the Colorado offense a chance to win.  Just as the Buffs had weathered the spring and summer of controversy, they had weathered adversity on the field in September, finishing off wins.  Now the Buffs had suffered a loss.  To make matters worse, it was a loss in conference to a team which the Buffs would have to hope would lose twice in order for Colorado to have a chance at the Big 12 North.

How would the young team react?  Practices are easier after wins.  Confidence begets confidence.  Oklahoma State was 4-0, having dismantled Iowa State, 36-7.

Evan Judge did not have a happy birthday in Columbia, Missouri.  How happy would he and his teammates be after the Homecoming game against the Cowboys in Boulder?

 Game Notes …

– The Missouri win over the Buffs marked the first time in six tries that the Tigers had defeated Colorado with Gary Barnett as head coach. Barnett, a Missouri alumnus, had been 5-0 against his alma mater.

– Joel Klatt threw three interceptions against Missouri, his first three pick game since a 26-21 loss to Texas Tech, on November 1, 2003.

– The 17-9 loss to Missouri marked the first time in 11 games in which the Buffs had failed to score at least 20 points. The 11-game streak was the longest for Colorado since going 17 straight games with over 20 points between 1994 and 1996.

– Colorado opened Big 12 play with a loss for the second consecutive season. The back-to-back losses in conference openers marked the first time the Buffs opened 0-1 in conference play since 1987-1988. The loss gave Colorado a 5-4 record in Big 12 openers.

October 2, 2010 – Boulder         Colorado 29, Georgia 27

With less than two minutes to play in their game against Colorado at Folsom Field, the Georgia Bulldogs were positioned for a game-winning field goal. Instead, Colorado senior linebacker B.J. Beatty forced a fumble by Bulldog running back Caleb King at the Buff 30 yard line. Fellow linebacker Jon Major fell on the ball, preserving a 29-27 victory for Colorado. In a game in which both teams fostered – and then lost – two score leads, it was only fitting that the 52,855 on hand be treated to an unexpected ending.

Colorado was led onto the field by the 1990 national championship team. Over 80 players on coaches were on hand for the weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Colorado’s first national championship in football.

Perhaps inspired by the presence of the title team, the 2010 Buffs started the game better than they had any game in the young season. Colorado took the opening kickoff and smartly marched 80 yards in 13 plays. Brian Lockridge got most of the 11 carries on the drive, but it was an eight yard scramble on third-and-six at the Colorado 24 yard line by quarterback Tyler Hansen which set the tone for the drive. Ten plays later, on second-and-goal, Hansen hit utility back Matt Bahr for a four yard touchdown and a 7-0 Buff lead.

The applause from the appreciative Buff crowd had hardly died down when Georgia return man Brandon Boykin took the ensuing kickoff back 72 yards. The Colorado defense was up to the task, however, as seven plays by Georgia netted only nine yards, and the Bulldogs had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by kicker Blair Walsh. 7-3, Colorado.

After an exchange of punts, Colorado again went on the attack. A 21-yard gain by running back Rodney Stewart on a lateral from Tyler Hansen took the ball out near midfield as the first quarter came to a close. On third-and-four at the Georgia 36 yard line after the break, Hansen hit Brian Lockridge for a 35 yard pickup to the one yard line. Lockridge did the honors on the next play, putting the Buffs up 14-3 with 13:15 to play in the half. The Buffs, by almost any measure, were playing well.

The rest of the second quarter, though, was all Georgia.

Wide receiver A.J. Green, suspended for the first four games of the season, had his first touch of the year on a reverse on Georgia’s next play from scrimmage, gaining 40 yards. A 32-yard run by Caleb King on the very next play set up the Bulldogs at the Colorado eight. On third down, quarterback Aaron Murray hit A.J. Green on a three-yard touchdown pass to cut the Buffs’ lead to 14-10.

Colorado was forced to punt seven plays later, with Branden Smith returning the Zach Grossnickle offering back 36 yards to the Colorado 39 yard line.

This time, it took Georgia only one play to score. A.J. Green got behind Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown, coasting in for a 39-yard touchdown. The score gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, at 17-14, with 7:47 to play in the half.

After a three-and-out by the Colorado offense, Georgia marched quickly down the field, picking up first downs on four consecutive plays. The drive was thwarted, however, when Jalil Brown intercepted a Murray offering in the endzone. The Buffs gave the ball back a few plays later, however, as Tyler Hansen was intercepted at the Buff 39 yard line.

Again the Buff defense stiffened, though, and, as the half expired, Blair Walsh, who was eight-for-eight for the season to that point, missed a 41 yard field goal.

Halftime score: Georgia 17, Colorado 14

Continue reading game story here

“Is it too much to ask?” … 

It all seemed predestined; preordained.

Colorado had come back from a 24-14 deficit to lead Georgia in the fourth quarter, 29-27.  The Buffs had the ball and the lead, and had taken almost nine minutes off of the fourth quarter clock in driving slowly, methodically – painfully – down the field. Yet just when it looked like Colorado might take the ball down for a game-clinching touchdown, the Buffs stalled.

A missed 52-yard field goal gave the ball back to Georgia at the Bulldogs’ 35-yard line. Over 3 1/2 minutes remained in the game, with one of the premier field goal kickers in the game, Blair Walsh, patrolling the Bulldog sideline, ready to take the field to give Georgia a hard-fought 30-29 victory.

Colorado fans saw it coming.

We had seen it before.

Taking over at their own 35, Georgia did exactly what was expected – take the ball and quickly move into field goal position. Three first downs in only four plays put the Bulldogs at the Colorado 27 yard line. A Georgia field goal was so inevitable (Walsh was 12-for-13 in his career from 40-49 yards out coming into the game) that Dan Hawkins called his first time out of the game with just under two minutes to play.

In the stands, the fans in black, who made up the majority of the 52,855 in Folsom Field, were tense. The fans in red, numerous and loud, were shifting nervously in anticipation.

Everyone knew what was about to happen. Buff fans were powerless to intervene.

Or perhaps not.

Just before the start of the second half, when the players were warming up before resuming play, I was staring down at the field. “What are you thinking?”, Brad asked. “Without two or three turnovers, I don’t see how we can stay in this game”, I replied. True, Colorado trailed only 17-14. The offense had put together two impressive drives early, and the defense had made two stops – one by interception; the other by missed field goal – in the waning moments of the second quarter, to keep the game close.

Still, Georgia’s offense was on a roll, while the Colorado offense had spent much of the second quarter in neutral. Bulldog wide receiver A.J. Green ran free in the Colorado secondary in the second quarter, and the Buffs seemed powerless to stop him. “A.J. Green! A.J. Green!” chanted the Georgia faithful, deliriously happy that their future NFL first round pick, suspended for the first four games of the season, was back on the field of play. Green had 109 yards of total offense – and two touchdowns – in the second quarter alone. Georgia had 17 points, but that total was sure to rise in the second half.

When Georgia quickly scored a touchdown to open the second half, dread came over the “Blackout” Buff fans. A 14-3 lead had become a 24-14 deficit.

The Buff players, though, to their credit, showed grit and determination. Colorado fought right back. The Buffs answered the Georgia score with a touchdown of their own to open the second half, then took the lead later in the quarter. With a two-point conversion and a Georgia field goal factored in, the score stood at Colorado 29, Georgia 27, when the Buffs took over with 12:30 to play.

Colorado played keep-away from the Georgia offense for most of the fourth quarter. The Buffs held the ball for almost nine minutes, running off 16 plays – but could not produce a score.

Now, with under two minutes to play, the lead remained at two points. The math was painfully easy – Georgia only needed a field goal to win.

Continue reading story here


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