CU Games of the Day – October 3rd

October 3rd … CU has an 2-2 record on this date over the past 40 years, including Sal Aunese’s first start and a record-setting win in Norman … 1981: No. 16 UCLA had little trouble with CU, dominating the Buffs in Pasadena, 27-7 … 1987: Sal Aunese earns his first start as CU’s quarterback, leading the Buffs to a 29-16 over CSU in Ft. Collins … 1998: CU becomes the first team to ever post five consecutive wins in Norman, taking out the Sooners, 27-25 (with game video) … 2015: CU stays with the touted Oregon Ducks for a half (17-17), but can’t sustain the momentum in 41-24 loss …

  • 1981: No. 16 UCLA 27, Colorado 7 … CU finishes non-conference play in 1981 with a 1-3 record as the Bruins methodically pull away from the Buffs
  • 1987: Colorado 29, Colorado State 16 … Before many of the 38,129 who attended the game at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins (a new stadium record, besting the old mark by almost 6,000) could find their seats, Colorado had romped to a 19-0 first quarter lead and never looked back … 
  • 1998: No. 15 Colorado 27, Oklahoma 25 … A second fourth quarter Oklahoma score with 1:05 left made the score 27-25, giving the Sooners one last chance. When Darrin Chiaverini fell on the Sooners’ onside kick to preserve the victory … Essay: “Silver Dollar Bar” … You do what you’ve got to do, including game highlights from a saloon in a small town in Montana …
  • 2015: Oregon 41, Colorado 24 … A lightning delay and a good half of football aren’t enough as the Buffs fall to the Ducks in Boulder … Essay: “Back To the Future – Almost” … In Back to the Future II, Marty McFly winds up in 2015. For a half against the Ducks in 2015, the Buffs tried to go back to the future, and re-recreate the upset from 1985 (the year of the first Back to The Future) …

Check out the stories for all four games below …

October 3, 1981 – at UCLA           No. 16 UCLA 27, Colorado 7

The October 3rd game brought the Bruins home for their first home game after playing three games on the road to open the 1981 season. With Colorado wearing similar blue and gold uniforms, the UCLA faithful may have been initially confused. This was not to last, though, as the true blue and gold team stepped forward and dominated the Buffs.

Colorado came into the game ranked eighth in the nation in total offense, but the yardage hadn’t resulted in points or victories. The Buffs had only scored 30 points in its previous two games, and had lost both games.

UCLA put an end to Colorado’s high national ranking in total yards, holding the Buffs to 161 yards of total offense.

As had been the case with BYU the week before, the defense tried to make a game of it. The Buffs held the Bruins to four field goals in the first half, but that was as close as the Buffs would get all day, with the Colorado offense not scoring until the game was out of hand.

The opening day win over Texas Tech was now a distant memory, as the Buffs fell to 1-3 on the season.

A game against Nebraska, in Lincoln, was up next. If Mr. Rogers was asked about the game, he might have responded with: “Can you say: ‘Rout waiting to happen’? I knew you could.”

– Game Notes … 

– Future Colorado head coach Rick Neuheisel was a a member of the 1981 UCLA Bruin team, but did not play against the Buffs in Los Angeles. Neuheisel, a walk-on quarterback, would see mop-up duty in the 1982 Colorado/UCLA game in Boulder.

– The loss to UCLA dropped the Buffs to 0-3 all-time against the Bruins. After another loss in 1982, the Buffs would have to wait until 2002 to chalk up a win over UCLA (a 31-17 win against the 20th-ranked Bruins in the Rose Bowl).

– UCLA would go on to finish the 1981 season with a  7-4-1 record, closing out the season with a 22-21 loss to USC in the regular season finale, and a 33-14 loss to Michigan in the Bluebonnet Bowl. With the back-to-back losses at the end of the season, UCLA, which had been ranked as high as No. 6 earlier in the season, dropped out of the final polls.

October 3, 1987 – at Colorado State           Colorado 29, Colorado State 16

Exacting revenge for the 23-7 embarrassment in Boulder the year before, the Buffs traveled to Fort Collins for the first time since 1957, taking home a hard-fought 29-16 win.

Sal Aunese received his first start as quarterback for the Buffs, and responded with Colorado’s first 100+ yard passing effort of the season. Aunese’s stats: four-of-six passing, 139 yards and one touchdown. The 139 total yards were somewhat inflated, though, by a 79-yard touchdown pass to senior split end Drew Ferrando. Aunese also led the Buff rushing attack, running for 83 yards on 18 carries.

The final score was not indicative of how well the Buffs played, especially in the first half.

Before many of the 38,129 who attended the game at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins (a new stadium record, besting the old mark by almost 6,000) could find their seats, Colorado had romped to a 19-0 first quarter lead. Michael Simmons scored on a 14-yard run, Ferrando sprinted past Ram defenders to complete the 79-yard scoring pass play, and Aunese ran the ball in from six yards out (one extra point attempt failed, with a two-point conversion after the third touchdown also failing, making it 19-0 instead of 21-0).

By the time the Rams scored midway through the second quarter, it was already 26-0 Buffs, with Michael Simmons posting his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard run.

The defense for the Buffs shut down the Rams’ running game, allowing only 69 yards on 28 carries. For the third consecutive game, however, Colorado allowed more passing yards than the game before. Oregon had passed for 175 yards in the opener. Thereafter, Stanford passed for 207; Washington State, 264. Quarterback Scooter Molander lit up the Colorado secondary for 398 yards in the comeback effort. (Molander’s 30 completions in 48 attempts at the time represented highs for a Colorado opponent).

Redemption for the Colorado secondary, though, came in the form of three interceptions. For the day, Colorado was the beneficiary of five Ram turnovers. All five were converted into points.

Colorado was now 3-1 as the non-conference portion of the 1987 schedule came to a close, which was quite an improvement from the 0-4 non-conference start of 1986. In 1986, though, the Buffs had rebounded to surprise the conference with an impressive 6-1 record and a second place finish. If the Buffs were to be as successful this year, it would have to be proven early.

The first conference game of the year was to be on the road, against 19th-ranked Oklahoma State.

Game Notes –

– Sal Aunese received his first career start against Colorado State. Aunese would go on to start at quarterback for Colorado in all but one game the remainder of 1987 and all of 1988. Aunese finished the 1987 not only as CU’s leading passer (23-for-51 for 522 yards and three touchdowns), but also the Buffs’ leading rusher (122 carries for 612 yards and six touchdowns)

– Colorado continued to struggle with the kicking game in the CSU game. After the Buffs opened with a 14-yard touchdown run by Michael Simmons, capitalizing on a Mickey Pruitt interception, Eric Hannah made the extra point. A few minutes later, after Aunese found Drew Ferrando all alone for a 79-yard score, Hannah missed the extra point. Later in the first quarter, after Sal Aunese scored to make the score 19-0, Bill McCartney did not go for the extra point, opting for a two-point conversion attempt (which failed). Hannah did connect later on an extra point, as well as a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

– Senior safety Mickey Pruitt had two interceptions against Colorado State, giving him four in two games. Pruitt would go to post a team-high five interceptions in 1987, the most since Clyde Riggins had five interceptions to lead the team in 1981.

– The last time Colorado played Colorado State in Ft. Collins prior to the 1987 game came in 1957, when Colorado shut out the Rams, 20-0. The 1987 victory gave Colorado a 21-7-1 record against the Rams in games played in Ft. Collins. The win also gave the Buffs a 3-1 record against Colorado State in games played since the series resumed in 1983.

– 1987 was the beginning of the end of the Leon Fuller era at Colorado State. The Rams, after a 6-5 season in 1986, would go 1-11 in 1987, with the only win coming over New Mexico (35-13). In 1988, Colorado State would again go 1-11 (only win coming over San Diego State), with Leon Fuller being replaced by Earle Bruce in 1989.

October 3, 1998 – at Oklahoma          No. 15 Colorado 27, Oklahoma 25

Prior to 1995, no team – not in-state rival Oklahoma State, not long time rival Nebraska – no team had ever defeated Oklahoma four consecutive times in Norman.

In 1995, though, No. 4 Colorado romped over No. 10 Oklahoma 38-17 to set the new standard. With a 27-25 come-from-behind (again) win in 1998, the Colorado Buffaloes registered their fifth consecutive win over Oklahoma on their home turf, raising the bar yet again.

Quarterback Mike Moschetti threw three touchdown passes, while Marlon Barnes ran for a career-high 135 yards to lead the Buffs to a 5-0 record (2-0 in Big 12 play).

The game did not start out well for the Buffs, as Oklahoma produced an early seven-play, 80-yard drive to post the first points of the game on an 11-yard run by De’Mond Parker for a touchdown. Parker high-stepped into the end zone, and was called for a celebration penalty. The first quarter score was left at 6-0 after the 35-yard extra point attempt was missed.

Early in the second quarter, the Buffs took the lead for good.

Colorado capped a ten-play, 86-yard drive with a 19-yard scoring pass from Mike Moschetti to Darrin Chiaverini. On the Buffs’ next drive, a 57-yard catch and run by freshman tight end Daniel Graham set up a five-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Marcques Spivey gave the Buffs a 14-6 advantage.

A pair of Oklahoma field goals, one in the second quarter, one late in the third, made the score 14-12 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Buffs upped the lead to 20-12 early in the fourth when a 70-yard Colorado drive was finished off by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Roman Hollowell. Like De’Mond Parker in the first quarter, Hollowell was flagged for excessive celebration, and the 35-yard extra point attempted was missed, leaving it a one-score game at 20-12 with 11:15 to play.

A few plays later, it was 27-12.

Senior cornerback Marcus Washington intercepted a Patrick Fletcher pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown for a seemingly comfortable 15-point Buff lead with 10:17 to play in the game.

Thereafter, however, the previously stingy Buff defense helped keep the 71,217 Sooner faithful in their Owens Field seats. Right after the Marcus Washington pick six, the Buffs surrendered a touchdown on a two-play, 52-yard drive to make the score 27-18 (the two-point conversion attempt failed) with 9:16 still remaining.

A second fourth quarter Oklahoma score with 1:05 left made the score 27-25, giving the Sooners one last chance. When Darrin Chiaverini fell on the Sooners’ onside kick attempt, however, the cardiac Buffs were able to run out the clock to preserve a second consecutive two-point conference win.

“I said going in”, said Rick Neuheisel after the game, “I wouldn’t mind being an exposed 5-0. We know what the problems are, and we have a chance to fix them.”

The offense continued to be little more than acceptable. Even with Moschetti’s three touchdown passes and Marlon Barnes’ career effort, Colorado put up only 317 yards of total offense. The defense, which had been the bright spot of the team, had been the victim of unexplained lapses. Special teams had been an adventure – occasionally outstanding; but often dangerous.

Injuries also continued to pile up on the young Buffs, making the 5-0 record all the more precarious.

Promising freshman Cedric Cormier, who had dazzled CSU with his 82-yard punt return for a touchdown in the season-opener, was lost for the year after the Oklahoma game with a torn ACL. In all, 12 players had already been lost to the Buffs for a total of 30 games. “I’ve never seen anything like this”, said Neuheisel, “and neither has our trainer (Dave Burton).”

But the Buffs would not receive any sympathy from their next foe, 5th-ranked Kansas State.

The Wildcats were 4-0 on the young season, and was the media darling of college football. Long the doormat of the NCAA football arena, the Wildcats were the consensus choice to be the only Big 12 team with a shot at dethroning Nebraska as the Big 12 bully. Heading into the CU game, Kansas State had the statistics to back up this belief. Over admittedly weak opposition, the Wildcats were first in the nation in no fewer than eight categories, including scoring offense (62.3 ppg.), scoring defense (5.3 ppg.), and total defense (205.5 yds/game).

Colorado would not to be allowed the luxury of a merely acceptable performance if there were to be any chance of defeating Kansas State. A national television audience would witness the 5:00 p.m. kickoff in Boulder to see which of these two undefeated teams were for real.

Here is the YouTube video of the game … 

Silver Dollar Bar

Size is relative.

To those living in New York City, the Denver-Boulder metro area represents little more than a distant outpost. To those in Denver, the 35,000 souls living in Bozeman, Montana, (in 1998, anyway) seemed quite remote.

For those of us living in Bozeman, the town of Ennis, Montana, was considered small.

Only a few hundred souls lived there year-round, but it was in this quiet little town, where much of the population makes its living off of the world-class fishing in the area, that I found myself for the Colorado/Oklahoma game in 1998.

As President of the Gallatin Empire Lions Club, I was expected to attend the Lions Club District Convention in Ennis on October 3rd. (“Convention” was something of a misnomer. Around 100 were in attendance, and to accommodate even that number, most of the activity took place in the high school gymnasium). I had monetary contributions to present to the District Governor on behalf of my Club, and I needed to make a nominating speech for one of our Club’s members who was interested in becoming District Governor.

Long story short … I was stuck in this Montana hamlet on a college football Saturday.

But they didn’t say I had to be there the entire day.

Randy, with whom I had attended the CSU game, and who would travel with me to Boulder for the Kansas State game, was with me in Ennis. After lunch, we made our getaway. We were off, in search of … a television.

There were few options. All included bars.

We settled on the Silver Dollar bar. Even though the Colorado/Oklahoma game was a regional ABC telecast, the satellite at the bar could only pick up an inconsequential (to us) game between 0-3 North Carolina and a 1-3 Clemson. Since the Tar Heel/Tiger clash was also an ABC game, we hoped to at least pick up some highlights. Unfortunately, few were forthcoming, and we had to sweat out the afternoon.

We never saw the 27-12 4th-quarter score, a score which would have given us some relief. Sadly, the Buffs gave Oklahoma a makeup touchdown so quickly that the updates went from 20-12 to 27-18. Still, with a two-score lead, we were fairly comfortable as the day clock moved toward 5:00 p.m. The game had to over soon, didn’t it?

Finally, after much consternation, the final score, 27-25, was posted across the ABC scrawl.

Randy and I could return to the Lions Club Convention in peace.

Colorado was now 5-0, and was ranked 14th in the country. Had anyone offered me a 5-0 start for the Buffs, especially after the 5-6 debacle of 1997, I would have leapt at the chance.

So why didn’t we feel better?

The Buffs were decimated by injuries, with freshman plugging holes everywhere. The team had put together a grand total of one half of domination (the second half against Colorado State) all year, and Kansas State, though unchallenged, had bombed all four of its opponents, including a 48-7 drubbing of Texas.

Would this be the week when the Buffs would be exposed as a pretender?

Or would the Buffs play to the level of their competition and put forth their best game of the year?

In some ways, the answer to both questions turned out to be “yes”.

Game Notes –

– Sophomore safety John Sanders led the Buffs’ defense with 15 tackles, but was injured during the Oklahoma contest, and would miss the next three games. Sanders would go on to finish third on the team in tackles in 1998, with 65 (47 unassisted).

– Marlon Barnes made his first career start against Oklahoma. Despite missing the first three games of the season due to injury – and missing two more games before the end of the season, Barnes would go on to lead the team in rushing in 1998, with 572 yards on 121 carries.

– The win over the Sooners was not only the fifth in a row in Norman, but gave Colorado a four game winning streak, and an eight game unbeaten streak against Oklahoma (7-0-1, with the tie coming in 1992). Previously, the Buffs’ longest winning streak against the Sooners was … two games (1960-61 and 1965-66).

– With the win, the series against Oklahoma moved to 34-15-2, Sooners … so before the streak, the series was 34-8-1 – ouch!

– Oklahoma would go on to lose its next three games after falling to the Buffs, and would finish the season with a 5-6 record. A third consecutive losing season marked the end of the John Blake era in Norman (12-22), with the Sooners turning to a new head coach, Bob Stoops, for the 1999 campaign.

October 3, 2015 – Boulder          Oregon 41, Colorado 24

In a game delayed over an hour due to lightning concerns, Oregon ran for 361 yards in pulling away from Colorado late, winning 38-24 in a game which ended after midnight. Two Ducks ran for over 100 yards, with Royce Freeman going for 163 yards and two touchdowns and Taj Griffin adding 109 yards and a score.

The Colorado offense, which struggled to run the ball all night (77 yards) relied on its passing game to stay with the Ducks. Quarterback Sefo Liufau went 25-for-42 for 230 yards and a score, but he also threw an interception and had a crucial third quarter fumble which led to Oregon’s first two-score of the night in the third quarter.

The Buffs (3-2,0-1), who had been out-scored by an average score of 54-10 in their four previous Pac-12 encounters with the Ducks, held leads of 14-7 and 17-14, and were tied at 17-all at the break, but were not able to keep up with the Oregon offense in the second half. For the game, Oregon posted 537 yards of total offense, to just 307 for the Buffs.

After waiting out a lightning storm, both teams – and a crowd of 46,222 – were anxious to get the game underway (the 9:08 p.m. kickoff becoming the latest in Folsom Field history).

Both teams wanted the ball to start the game, but Oregon won the coin toss, and got to put their better unit, their offense, on the field first. The Ducks, though, were only able to muster one first down before punting the ball away, with a sack of Oregon quarterback Jeff Lockie by defensive tackle Justin Solis throwing the Ducks off schedule.

The Buffs’ first possession, though, was also not what was expected. After missing a wide open Donovan Lee on his second pass of the night, CU quarterback Sefo Liufau threw an interception, setting up the Oregon offense at the Colorado 17-yard line.

Same song, different year.

Instead of giving up a quick touchdown, though, the Colorado defense responded. On a third-and-goal at the CU five yard line, Lockie threw an interception of his own, with Ahkello Witherspoon collecting his first career interception.

CU’s next possession also ended in a turnover, with Phillip Lindsay fumbling the ball away at the Buff 34-yard line. This time, the Ducks were not to be denied. Oregon running back Royce Freeman scored on a 29-yard run, giving Oregon a 7-0 lead six minutes into the game.

Matters looked bleak for the Buffs a few moments later after the CU offense went three-and-out on its third possession, losing 13 yards in the process. Instead of taking advantage, though, Oregon responded with a three-and-out of its own.

The Colorado offense, with two turnovers and a three-and-out to start the game, then put together its first scoring drive of the night. Taking over after a short punt, the Buffs went 65 yards in 11 plays to tie the score. The big play of the drive was a 21-yard pass from Liufau to Phillip Lindsay taking the ball to the Oregon 15 yard line. Three Christian Powell runs, the final coming from two yards out, made it a 7-7 game late in the first quarter.

The Buff defense then forced a three-and-out (aided by a pair of penalties), giving Colorado the ball back with momentum. A 42-yard pass from Liufau to Nelson Spruce for 42 yards gave the Buffs a first-and-goal at the Oregon nine. Two plays later, Liufau hit Shay Fields for an eight yard touchdown, giving CU its first second quarter lead over Oregon as a member of the Pac-12. Colorado 14, Oregon 7.

The quick-strike Oregon offense, then, well, struck quickly. It took the Ducks only three plays to tie the score, with wide receiver Bralon Addison hitting fellow receiver Charles Nelson for a 39-yard touchdown to make it a 14-14 game early in the second quarter.

Continue reading story here

Back to the Future … 

Doc Brown and Marty McFly would have been proud.

Hell, we even had enough lightning at Folsom Field for the Colorado/Oregon game to generate 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.

In the movie, Back to the Future II, Doc, Marty, and Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer (who was different from the actress who played Jennifer in the first movie, though we were not supposed to notice) take off in the Delorean, leaving 1985 for 2015 so that Marty and Jennifer can save their children from a terrible future.

The date the trio travels to … October 21, 2015.

So, the movie was a little bit off in terms of dates, as the Colorado Buffalo program went “Back to the Future” Saturday night in Boulder, trying to turn October 3, 2015, into September 14, 1985.

Continue reading Game Essay here

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