CU Games of the Day – October 4th

October 4th … CU has an 0-5 record on this date over the past 40 years, one of only a handful of days (September 13th; October 10th) between Labor Day and Thanksgiving without at least one Buff victory … 1980: Probably why CU doesn’t play well on this date. Today is the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest losses in CU history, as the Buffs (and numerous records) fall in an 82-42 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma (with game video) … 1997: Turnovers (two) and penalties (nine) matched the total number of first downs (11) mustered by the CU offense on the day, and yet the Buffs hang tough before falling 16-10 to No. 21 Texas A&M … 2003: Baylor 42, Colorado 30 – “It’s a hard thing to swallow,” said Gary Barnett. “We didn’t play very well. We just had a lot of mistakes” … 2008: Texas takes full advantage of their first half opportunities in building a 21-0 halftime lead on the way to a 38-14 win … 2014: Missed opportunities and some questionable officiating (see Drew Litton cartoon, below) contribute to 36-31 loss to Oregon State …

  • 1980: No. 12 Oklahoma 82, Colorado 42 … Dozens of NCAA, Big Eight, and school records fall as the Sooners rush for 758 yards … Essay: “Nadir” … In case you couldn’t have guessed …
  • 1997: No. 21 Texas A&M 16, Colorado 10 … Texas A&M managed only 332 yards of total offense, but that was still better than the 299 yards of total offense put together by the Colorado offense … Essay: “Yell Practice in Denver” … A sight to behold … 
  • 2003: Baylor 42, Colorado 30 … The Baylor Bears, winners of just four games in seven Big 12 seasons, and losers of 37 out of their last 38 conference games, stun CU at home, 42-30. … Essay: “Bye Bye Week”
  • 2008: No. 5 Texas 38, Colorado 14 … CU kicker Aric Goodman tied a school record in missing three field goal attempts – all in the first half – as Texas slowly pulled away from the Buffs before a sellout Homecoming crowd of 53,927 … Essay: “Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” … 
  • 2014: Oregon State 36, Colorado 31 … The game was close on the scoreboard and on the stats sheet. Oregon State had 445 yards of total offense; Colorado 431 … Essay: “There Are No Moral Victories”

Check out the stories for all five games below …

October 4, 1980 – Boulder           No. 12 Oklahoma 82, Colorado 42

The score says it all.


If you have never seen these numbers before, consider yourself fortunate.  The headline in the October 5, 1980, Rocky Mountain News was:  “Buffs humiliated by Sooners 82-42”.  The statistics border on the unbelievable.  The total number of points scored by two teams, 124, set a modern day NCAA record, as did the total number of touchdowns by both teams (18).  In all, at least 51 NCAA, Big Eight Conference, Colorado/Oklahoma team, or Folsom Field records were broken – and five more tied (though many have since been passed).

No one was disillusioned with the belief that 0-3 Colorado was going to upset 12th-ranked Oklahoma.  Still, for an ever so brief moment, it looked as if the Buffs, though reeling, might stay with the Sooners.  After Oklahoma had gone up 14-0, Buff freshman Walter Stanley ran the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-7 with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

The Sooners quickly responded with a 20-yard touchdown run by Buster Ryhmes to run the score to 21-7, but, with the aid of a pass interference penalty taking the ball to the Sooner three-yard line, Colorado pushed the ball over on a Willie Beebe run, and the second quarter scoreboard read 21-14.  CU hadn’t stopped the Sooners, but had shown an ability to score as well.  Maybe there was hope.  At the half, the score was a respectable 34-21.

Good news, bad news.  First the good news:  at least Colorado had scored some points in the first half of a game.  Now the bad news:  Oklahoma had not scored in the first half of its first two games, but had scored five touchdowns in the first thirty minutes against CU.

Unfortunately, matters only deteriorated from there.

In the second half, Oklahoma continued to roll, scoring 48 points.  The Buffs only consolation was the posting of 21 points to match their total from the first half.

For the game, the Sooners numbers were incredible:  758 yards rushing on 73 carries.  Throw in 117 yards passing and the Oklahoma total yardage for the day was 875 yards of offense.  Oklahoma never punted, and only two fumbles prevented further carnage.  It was a rout in every sense of the word.

Associated Press writer Steve Harvey had a column in the early 1980’s, dubbed the “Bottom 10”.  Rankings were awarded along the same concept as with the Top 20, but were the inverse to the best teams in the nation.  The only saving grace keeping Colorado, at 0-4, from being “ranked” as the worst team in the nation after the Oklahoma game, was that the Buffs shared the #1 ranking with the other two state teams.  That same weekend, Air Force out of Colorado Springs was beaten 17-16 by Yale to fall to 0-4-1, while the Colorado State Rams from Fort Collins succumbed 69-0 to Iowa State.

It was small consolation to Buff fans that the state’s other schools were having equally poor seasons.

Here is a YouTube video with “highlights” from the game, dug up by CU at the Gamer Paul:


Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines “nadir” as:  “the lowest point”.   Nadir is the only appropriate way to describe the Colorado/Oklahoma game.  The records, of course, speak for themselves.  For me and Mark Watson, an aerospace engineering freshman who also lived on Second East floor in Libby Hall, though, the game became an odyssey.  While many Buff fans left early, for us the game was like driving by an accident on the highway: You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help but watch.

Two players from the 1980 Colorado/Oklahoma track meet are locked forever into my memory.  The first is Darrell Shepard, the backup quarterback for Oklahoma.  I didn’t know his name at the time, but his stats were easy to remember. Three rushes for 151 yards – a nifty 50.3 yards per carry average.  He may have been a tailback on the day, but I remember him as the quarterback, and I remember his carries.

All afternoon, Oklahoma ran the triple option right.  The Colorado players knew it. The Colorado coaches knew it. Drunken frat boys in the student section knew it. Everyone in the stadium knew the play was coming.  The Buffs just could not stop the Sooners’ backs.  Oklahoma’s 758 yards rushing attests to the lack of a need for a passing game. Colorado just didn’t have the horses to keep up.

There is the story that Fairbanks, as a former OU coach, contacted Sooner head coach Barry Switzer through assistants in the press box.  The plea, sent in the second half, was to stop running the option and just run up the middle.  I don’t know if the story is true, or if the Sooners coaching staff was sympathetic.  Even if Oklahoma complied, it didn’t help Colorado much, as the Sooners scored 48 points in the second half.

The second player I remember from that October afternoon was a Buff.  I remember him as the right cornerback, and his number being #6.  I didn’t know his name at the time, but the stats sheet from the game identifies Colorado #6 as defensive back Tim Stampley.  Perhaps it was for the best that we didn’t know his name in the stands, for to us, #6 became known simply as the “designated chaser”.  Baseball has a designated hitter, and CU, for this game anyway, had it’s designated chaser.

Lining up against the wide out on the left side of the Sooner offense, the designated chaser for the Buffs had limited action in defending against the passing game.  Instead, it seemed to us that Stampley had a singular role. As the cornerback away from the flow of the play, his role was to run across the field, as Oklahoma ran its triple option right, and chase the OU quarterback or tailback all the way into the endzone as they ran for yet another long touchdown.  He was not responsible, mind you, for actually catching and tackling the OU ball carrier, but simply chasing the back all the way to the endzone.

It was almost as if the Buffs didn’t mind the touchdowns – but didn’t want to be embarrassed by having the touchdown scored by a Sooner walking to the goalline.

The other macabre reason for sitting through the 82-42 annihilation, at least from a home town fan standpoint, was to see if the scoreboard at CU could hold 100 points.  We were unsure whether this had been considered as a possibility when the scoreboard had been ordered.  After all, at the time, the most CU had ever scored in a game was 65 (v. Arizona in 1958) and the most given up to an opponent was 63 (v. Nebraska in 1975 – a 103-0 loss to Colorado Mines in CU’s inaugural season of 1890 notwithstanding).  For better or worse, the scoreboard was not tested, and CU had to settle for being ignominiously mentioned in the national media for the second time in as many weeks.

Game Notes –

– Walter Stanley is remembered by Buff fans for a number of records, but mostly for his kickoff and punt returns. Ironically enough, the 100-yard kickoff return for a score against Oklahoma was Stanley’s only kickoff return touchdown as a Buff.

– The 42 points put up against the Sooners, oddly enough, tied the most-ever for Colorado against Oklahoma (the Buffs defeated the Sooners, 42-31, in 1976). That record would stand until 1994, when Colorado routed Oklahoma, 45-7.

As noted, there were dozens of individual, team, conference, and NCAA records set on October 4, 1980 (some records, mercifully, have since been passed):

NCAA records:

– Most points scored, both teams: 124 (this record lasted until 2001 – Middle Tennessee State 70, Idaho 58, for 128 total points)

– Most touchdowns scored, both teams: 18

Big Eight records:

– Most Extra points attempted, game: 11 (Michael Keeling)

– Highest average gain per kickoff return, game: 53.3 (CU’s Walter Stanley – 3 for 160 yards)


– Most yards gained, Colorado and opponent: 1,205 (OU 875; CU 330)

– Most points scored losing a game: 42

– Highest kickoff return average, game: 44.8

– Most touchdowns allowed, game: 12

– Most touchdowns allowed, rushing, game: 10

– Most yards allowed, game: 875

– Most rushing yards allowed, game: 758

– Most points allowed, game: 82


– Most rushing yards, opponent, game: 258 (David Overstreet)

– Highest rushing average, opponent, game:  50.3 (Darrell Shepard – 3-for-151)

– Most extra points attempted, opponent, game: 11 (Michael Keeling)

– Most extra points made, opponent, game: 10 (Michael Keeling)

Of course, all of the above are also Folsom Field records, but you get the idea …

October 4th – Boulder          No. 21 Texas A&M 16,  No. 16 Colorado 10

The headlines from the Denver newspapers the morning after the CU-Texas A&M game spoke volumes:  “Agg-ony of defeat -CU’s hopes for season go poof” proclaimed the Denver Post; “Feeling Buffa-low – League opening loss to Texas A & M sends Neuheisel searching for answer, offense” charged the Rocky Mountain News.

Yes, it was “Agg-ony”, and I was feeling “Buffa-low”.  But more than anything, it was frustration.  The chances were there to win this game.

Rich Coady’s interception of a John Hessler pass with 2:15 remaining ended a Colorado rally as the Buffs lost their inaugural Big 12 game.

Early in the first quarter, the Buffs twice had the ball inside the Aggie ten yard line.  The net result:  three points.  A recovered fumble at the A&M seven yard line produced only a 22 yard field goal by Jeremy Aldrich.  On the second drive, Herchell Troutman was denied on fourth down at the Aggie one yard line. After the Buffs opened the scoring with a 3-0 lead, the Aggies took a 6-3 halftime lead on two second quarter field goals.

Turnovers (two) and penalties (nine) matched the total number of first downs (11) mustered by the CU offense on the day.  The big play of the game came in the third quarter, when Troutman fumbled on the Colorado seven yard line.  Three plays later, Texas A&M had a touchdown and a 13-3 lead. The advantage was 16-3 when Herchell Troutman finally got the Buffs into the end zone on a one yard run with 13:26 still left to play in the game.

Despite the Buffs best efforts to lose the game, CU still had a chance to pull out a win, taking over at its own 21 yard line with 5:28 remaining.  Down 16-10, the Buffs received a huge boost from a spectacular 37 yard catch by Darrin Chiaverini.  Two plays later, however, quarterback John Hessler was picked off.  By the time the Buffs got the ball back, a last second Hail Mary effort was all the Buffs had to hope for.  Hessler’s pass fell far from any Buff, and CU was 2-2 on the season, 0-1 in Big 12 Conference play.

Both teams defense shone on the day (or the offenses for both teams struggled, take your pick). Texas A&M managed only 332 yards of total offense, but that was still better than the 299 yards of total offense put together by the Colorado offense.

The Colorado defense forced six fumbles, but recovered only two.

It was that kind of day for the Buffs …

Yell Practice in Denver … 

Work on CU at the Game began in the spring and summer of 1996.  If there was a chance that this effort would not be seen to conclusion, or that I would find the time commitment or the overall folly to be too great, it came the weekend of the Texas A&M game in 1997.

No, not at around 5:00 p.m., slowly filing out of Folsom Field on the heels of Colorado’s first conference opening loss in nine seasons.  Rather, it came around 17 hours earlier, on the steps of the Colorado State capitol building in Denver.

Friday midnight?  In Denver?

Yes, for it was at that time and place that the Aggie faithful, some 1,000 strong who had traveled from Texas for the game, conducted yell practice.

For the uninitiated, yell practice is serious business at Texas A & M.  I had first heard about yell practice at the 1995 CU-A&M game at College Station.  In the two year interim, I had read Saturday Afternoon Madness, by Bob Waldestein and Phil Silverman, which chronicles a season traveling cross-country to witness the sights and sounds of college football.  Armed with the knowledge of what I might experience, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to observe even a watered-down version of yell practice (I would finally make it to College Station to witness the event first hand in 2008).

Waldetein and Sliverman, who did make the pilgrimage to College Station, captured the essence of yell practice well.  Picture yourself at Aggie stadium, midnight before the game:

“The entire procession seemed to be led by three guys (there were five in Denver) clad in overalls and carrying axe handles (not present on the Capitol steps).  For a lack of a more descriptive name, we’ll call them the ‘Hee Haw Boys’.

“As we looked on in complete amazement, one of the Hee Haw Boys stepped up to the microphone and let out a thunderous ‘Howdy!’  We nearly jumped out of our shorts when the entire student section responded in unison with an even more deafening ‘Howdy!!”  Then the Hee Haw Boys told some jokes about the University of Texas (a joke told about CU coach Rick Neuheisel is reprised below), during which, the students continually intervened with assorted yelps, whoops, and hisses ……

“If this wasn’t bizarre enough, every now and then, the Hee Haw Boys would start waving their hands in crazy spastic motions, except that they couldn’t have been totally crazy, because within moments, the entire student section would be making the same inexplicable motions.  After finishing their seizures, everyone again assumed the please-sir-may-I-have-another position (leaning forward, hands on knees) and let forth another mighty yell.  Despite being clueless, we were incredibly impressed.”

For Brad, Randy, and I, yell practice on the steps of the Colorado state capitol, though more limited in size, was no less impressive.  (For the record, the Neuheisel joke went along these lines:  Neuheisel has passed on, and is being led through a tour of Hell by the Devil.  Neuheisel is given the choice of three rooms, within one of which he must spend eternity.  The first two have the Texas A&M fans and players, loud and raucous.  The third has a quiet group of men, all waist deep in manure, sipping coffee.  Not wanting to spend eternity with the Aggies, Neuheisel opts for the third room.  Upon Neuheisel’s entry, the Devil closes the door behind the CU head coach, but not before yelling to the assembly – “End of coffee break.  Back to standing on your heads.”  Not exactly Tonight Show material, but it brought a huge laugh from the Aggie faithful, who had probably heard variations on the same joke for years.)

We stood back at a respectful distance during yell practice (our intent was never to disrupt or mock).  The “Hee Haw Boys” would go through some gyrations, the crowd would dutifully repeat the motions in unison, with all involved thereafter emitting the prescribed cheer.  None amongst appeared to think of this as anything but the most serious of business.

At the conclusion of the forty minute demonstration, I must admit I was speechless.  Literally speechless.  This is what college football was all about, I thought.  It made me proud to be a college football fan.  At the same time, it also made me upset to be a Colorado fan.  When I was first able to form words, a block or so away from the Capitol, all I could get out was “we haven’t got shit for tradition at CU”.

A part of me has always known this, of course.  Other than Ralphie running out onto the field to start home games, Colorado has done little to create, enhance, or preserve anything which could be called tradition.  Even with the team rising to national prominence in the 1990’s, no continuity of devotion or emotion ever really emerged.

A part of this problem has to do with a lack of a traditional rival.  The logical choices, Colorado State, Air Force, and Wyoming, all played in the Western Athletic Conference, and were never played on a regular basis.  Conference rivalries, meanwhile, never truly formed.  Nebraska has always had Oklahoma, and Colorado never won on the field against the Huskers often enough to create a real feud.  Kansas? Kansas State? Iowa State?  Puhleeese.

The other major factor in Colorado’s failure to create tradition had to do with its decent, but spotty history.  When CU was good, either Nebraska or Oklahoma (or both, as in 1971, when CU finished No. 3 in the polls, only to find itself behind the Huskers and Sooners in the rankings) were just a little better.  On other occasions, CU has been bad.  The continuity has not been there, and so the support and subsequent tradition has been lacking.

Witness the “Decade of Excellence“, a book describing the period from 1985-95, illustrated by J. David Kennebeck and Jeffrey M. Potts.  During “Colorado’s Finest Football Era”, as described by Kennebeck and Potts, CU never had a season where each of the home games were sold out.  Not once.  During that span, Colorado had 66 home games, but only 29 of were sell-outs.  This in a stadium of a capacity of less than 52,000, or less than half the size of Michigan’s stadium in Ann Arbor.

So why is there a lack of support, even when the Buffs are consistently good?

One reason was noted in the Buffalo Sports News (Vol. 6, No. 5) the week after the 1997 Texas A&M game.  Despite temperatures over 80 degrees for home games against Wyoming and Texas A&M, and despite the Buffs coming off of three straight seasons of ten wins or better, neither game was a sell out.  Two large sections were noticeably vacant in the student section the Aggie game, prompting the reporter from BSN to quote from an article in the Boulder based entertainment weekly called InSite.  The InSite article had been headlined “The Buff Report:  Buffs Simply Out of Fashion”.  Apparently, there was just too much else to do in Boulder to merit six afternoons of support a year from its students.

Perhaps it would take adversity followed by success to shake up the lethargic student body.  After all, most of the students had never seen fewer than 10 wins in a season, much less a losing campaign.

Resurgent Oklahoma State lay in wait in Stillwater to administer the adversity portion of the equation.

October 4, 2003 – at Baylor           Baylor 42, Colorado 30

The Baylor Bears, winners of just four games in seven Big 12 seasons, and losers of 37 out of their last 38 conference games, stunned Colorado at home, 42-30.

Baylor coach Guy Morriss, in his first season at the helm of the Bears, raised his record to 3-2, giving Baylor as many wins in five games as the Bears had earned in any of the past six seasons.

The game started slowly for both teams, but quickly heated up.

After a scoreless first quarter, Colorado took a 17-14 halftime advantage with three scores from close in – a 28-yard Mason Crosby field goal; a one-yard Daniel Jolly run, and a four-yard toss from Erik Greenberg to Derek McCoy.

The Buffs appeared ready to take command of the contest early in the third quarter. Brian Calhoun capped a 75-yard Buff drive to open the second half with a three-yard touchdown run to give the Buffs a 23-14 advantage (the point after attempt failed).

A Baylor blitz soon followed, however, as three touchdowns were scored by the Bears in only three minutes.

First, the Bears scored on an eight-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Karas to Shane Williams to cut the CU lead to 23-21. A few plays later, an Erik Greenberg fumble was picked up and returned by Jamaal Harper for a seven yard touchdown. Only two snaps later, another Greenberg fumble was recovered by the Bears. It took only four plays for the Bears to score from 21 yards out. With nine minutes to play in the third quarter, the score had been: Colorado 23; Baylor 14. Then, with five minutes to play in the third quarter, the score was now: Baylor 35; Colorado 23.

The Buffs did not quit, though, bouncing right back on a second Greenberg-to-McCoy touchdown to bring the Buffs to within 35-30. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Colorado answer to the Baylor scoring barrage was halted, as Brian Calhoun was thrown for a two yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the Baylor one yard line. The Bears then marched 97 yards for the final score, giving Baylor a 42-30 win.

“It’s a hard thing to swallow,” said Gary Barnett. “We didn’t play very well. We just had a lot of mistakes.”

The Buff defense, in addition to surrendering over 40 points for a third straight game, gave up 410 yards of total offense. Quarterback Aaron Karas (207 yards passing, three scores), wide receiver Robert Quiroga (113 receiving yards) and running back Rashad Armstrong (166 yards rushing) all set career-best performances in one category or another.

The much-maligned CU pass defense, starting two freshmen, Sammy Joseph and Terrence Wheatley, was porous, but was not entirely to blame. When the Buffs needed a stop in the fourth quarter, Baylor was able to cover 97 yards – all on rushing plays – to put the game out of reach.

The Colorado offense was a contributing factor to the defeat as well.

The Buffs did rack up 456 yards of total offense, and did have two 100-yard receivers in Derek McCoy (six catches for 171 yards) and D.J. Hackett (4-143), but also had five turnovers. The Buffs held on to the ball for only 22:44 of game time, compared to 37:16 for the Bears.

The 2-3 Buffs (0-1 in conference play) had had a bye week to prepare for Baylor, but did not have another bye week to try and correct their new set of problems. Colorado returned home to face a Kansas squad coming to Boulder with a surprising 4-1 record. The Jayhawks, 2-10 in 2002, were on a four game winning streak which included an eyebrow-raising 35-14 win over Missouri to open conference play. Under second-year head coach Mark Mangino, Kansas had already bested the number of wins accumulated in 2001 or 2002, and had won only its second conference game in its last 21 attempts.

What’s more, the Jayhawks were idle during the Colorado/Baylor game, giving Kansas an extra week to prepare for the Buffs.

The bye week had not worked out for Colorado. Perhaps it would not work to the benefit of Kansas.


Bye-Bye Week

The CU Buffs had a bye week between the Florida State blood-letting and the conference opener against Baylor. The off week, it seemed, could not have come at a better time. Having been mauled in consecutive weeks by Washington State and Florida State, the Buffs needed a week off.

It was a good time to let wounds heal. Time to reassess.

Time to get back to basics.

Rather than allow the players to relax prior to traveling to Waco, Texas, to face the Bears, head coach Gary Barnett put the team through a series of drills the players referred to as “The Bloodbath Trilogy”.  The drills were meant to be a return to basics for a team ranked 104 (out of 117) in rushing offense in the nation, 107th in scoring defense, 108th in total defense, and 115th in passing defense. “Those drills helped us,” said senior linebacker Sean Tufts. “We just lined up and played football. It’s almost like two-a-days again.”

Fortunately for Colorado, the schedule makers had been kind. After running the non-conference gauntlet 2-2, the two-time defending Big 12 North champions would face Baylor in their first game in conference play. The Bears were as close to a bye week a Big 12 team could ask for while still actually taking the field. The Bears had lost 37 of their previous 38 conference games, and had won only four conference games since the league had been formed in 1996. The last two times Colorado had played Baylor, the Buffs had shut out the Bears.

Looking for a confidence boost? Play Baylor.

Baylor 42, Colorado 30.


Now what?

So much for getting back to fundamentals. So much for regaining confidence. So much for having any chance at three-peating as Big 12 North champions. Colorado now faced not only the reality of its first three-game losing streak since the 3-8 2000 season, but also the reality of being the underdog in most of the remaining conference games.

“Nobody played well,” said defensive tackle Brandon Dabdoub. “It just seemed like we were flat.”

How was that possible? Weren’t the Buffs all about getting back to basics in their bye week? “Baylor played fundamental football and we made fundamental mistakes,” said Barnett. “It’s a hard thing to swallow.”

Wait a minute. Wasn’t “The Bloodbath Trilogy” about getting back to basics? Back to fundamentals? Wasn’t the bye week about getting over the mistakes of the non-conference slate and putting all of the team’s energy into defending its Big 12 North title? Wasn’t the non-conference devastation about priming the players for conference play?

Wasn’t ……? Oh, never mind.

Twice in the last twelve months Gary Barnett had brought his career record back to the .500 mark. After defeating Nebraska in 2002, Barnett was 64-64-1 (including his record at Northwestern). Losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and Wisconsin in the Alamo Bowl sent Barnett back under .500. Opening the 2003 campaign with wins over CSU and UCLA, though, put Barnett at 66-66-1. After a three game losing streak that showed no signs of slowing in momentum, pursuit of the elusive .500+ record was now more dream than reality.

The Buffs would need to work overtime to get back on the “W” side of the ledger.

October 4, 2008 – Boulder      No. 5 Texas 38, Colorado 14

Colorado failed to take advantage of first half opportunities against 5th-ranked Texas in their 2008 Homecoming game. Meanwhile, the Longhorns took full advantage of their first half opportunities in building a 21-0 halftime lead on the way to a 38-14 win over the Buffs. Colorado kicker Aric Goodman tied a school record in missing three field goal attempts – all in the first half – as Texas slowly pulled away from the Buffs before a sellout Homecoming crowd of 53,927.

In an opening maddeningly similar to the Florida State game the week before, the Buffs allowed the opposition to take an early lead. Against the Seminoles, the Buffs fumbled on the third play from scrimmage, giving Florida State a short field and an opening which led to a 7-0 deficit just three minutes into the game.

Against Texas, the Buffs took the opening kickoff and gained all of two yards on three plays before a Matt DiLallo punt gave the ball to the Longhorns at their 31-yard line. On third-and-six, the CU defense seemingly had Texas quarterback Colt McCoy surrounded, but at the last moment McCoy found running back Chris Ogbonnaya in the left flat. With the Buff defenders swarming to get to McCoy, Ogbonnaya was left alone to sprint down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. 7-0, Texas, just 1:43 into the game.

Seemingly undaunted by the early score, the Buffs next put together their best drive of the first half. Colorado covered 62 yards in 11 plays, reaching the Texas 18-yard line before stalling. Sophomore kicker Aric Goodman, who missed his only attempt in the Florida State game, was wide right on his 36-yard attempt, and the ball went back to the Longhorns.

The Longhorns’ second possession was textbook college football. Texas held the ball for ten plays and faced only two third downs on the drive (both third-and-one) in covering 80 yards to take a 14-0 lead. Colt McCoy hit Jordan Shipley from 16 yards out to complete the drive, and, with four minutes still remaining to be played in the first quarter, images of the 70-3 carnage in the 2005 Big 12 title game began to materialize in the minds of the CU faithful.

After a three-and-out from the Colorado offense, the CU defense gave the Buffs new life. Sophomore cornerback Jalil Brown picked off a Colt McCoy offering at the Colorado 27-yard line, returning the interception 57 yards to the Texas 16. The Buffs’ offense was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, however. Three plays gained zero yards, and on the third play of the second quarter, kicker Aric Goodman suffered his second miss of the game, as his 43-yard attempt hit the left upright. Goodman’s miserable night continued on the Buffs’ next possession. The Colorado offense was able to get as close as the Longhorn 27, but Goodman’s third try of the evening, this time from 44 yards out, went wide right.

With less than five minutes to go before halftime, Texas put together a 66-yard touchdown drive for their third score of the game. Chris Ogbonnaya scored his second touchdown, this time on a 13 yard run, to give the Longhorns an insurmountable 21-0 halftime lead.

The Colorado defense was able to hold the Longhorns in their opening possession of the second half, but on the Buffs’ second play of the third quarter, a handoff from Cody Hawkins to Rodney Stewart was fumbled, setting up Texas at the CU 18 yard line. Four plays later, the score was up to 28-0, with running back Cody Johnson doing the honors from a yard out.

The only remaining questions now for those who were a party to the first sellout at Folsom Field since the 2005 Nebraska game were how high the score would go, and whether the Buffs would be able to score at all. Midway through the third quarter, the Homecoming crowd did get an answer to the latter question.

Junior cornerback Cha’pelle Brown intercepted a tipped Colt McCoy pass at the Texas 27. Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins quickly threw three incompletions, setting up a fourth down. Rather than try a 44-yard field goal, the Buffs went for a first down, and were rewarded when Hawkins hit Josh Smith for a 17-yard gain to the Texas ten yard line. Two plays later, Hawkins hit junior fullback Jake Behrens for a seven yard score, and the Buffs were on the board, 28-7, late in the third quarter.

It took the Longhorns only four plays to answer. A 51 yard run by Chris Ogbonnaya set up a four yard touchdown run by Cody Johnson, and any flickering hopes of a Colorado comeback were officially extinguished with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter.

The outcome of the game decided, Texas did score on a 46-yard field goal, and the Buffs a touchdown, in an inconsequential fourth quarter. The Colorado score, culminating an 89-yard drive engineered by backup quarterback Matt Ballenger, came on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Ballenger to senior wide receiver Patrick Williams. The Buffs’ final points came with 1:54 remaining, making the final score 38-14.

“We had a hard time running the football and a hard time getting any consistency with anything,” said Dan Hawkins after the game. “If we can make some field goals, it’s 14-9 and you got a little more momentum, your spirits are a little bit higher and you have a little bit better opportunity to do some stuff there.”

On the 24-point loss, sophomore quarterback Cody Hawkins spoke for the offense. “You have to score points, especially in the red-zone,” said Hawkins. “Regardless of if we got the field goals or not, we weren’t playing our best and weren’t getting the job done.” Of the defensive effort, senior defensive tackle George Hypolite spoke for the defense, which surrendered 431 yards of total offense to Texas. “A lot of the things we gave up on defense were not assignments, it was just missed tackles,” said the CU captain. “We have to clean it up defensively.”

Colorado mustered only 266 yards of total offense on the night, with only 49 yards rushing. Cody Hawkins completed only 13 of 33 passes for 118 yards, and was sacked twice. Hawkins’ counterpart, Colt McCoy, hit on 23 of 30 passes, and while the Buffs did intercept McCoy twice and sack him three times, the Texas quarterback did connect for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

The loss dropped Colorado to 3-2 overall, 0-1 in Big 12 play. Up next? Kansas, ranked 16th in the country after a 35-33 win over Iowa State which saw the Jayhawks rally from a 20-0 halftime deficit. Kansas was 4-1, and would be playing at home mindful of their 19-14 win over the Buffs in Boulder in 2007.

“As you play these really good football teams, the margin for error is really, really slim,” said Dan Hawkins. “That’s just the nature of it.”

Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Positives to take from a 38-14 home loss to Texas.

Hmmm ….

Okay, let’s try these.

1. The Buffs held the Longhorns to their lowest point total of the year.

2. The Buffs scored more points against the Longhorns than any other team this year.

3. The Buffs committed a season low three penalties.

4. The Colorado defense registered four sacks, after posting three total in the past three games.

5. The Texas offense had only given up three sacks this season before giving up four to the Buffs.

6. The Texas offensive output was 51 yards lower than their season average; their point total 11 points below.

7. The Colorado offense had five plays of over 20 yards in length – after posting only nine such plays in the first four games.

8. Other than an ankle sprain to running back Darrell Scott, the Buffs emerged from the game relatively injury free.

9. After a squall came through an hour before the game, it was a beautiful night for football.

10. Nebraska got thumped at home by Missouri, 52-17, losing at home to the Tigers for the first time since 1978.

Fine, the last two were for me, but it’s hard coming up with ten positive things to say after a 24-point “and it wasn’t really that close” home loss. Very few felt the Buffs had more than an outside chance of pulling off an upset akin to the win over Oklahoma in 2007, but many of us felt (expected!) that the Buffs would be able to perform more consistently.

The offensive line is a mess. No doubt about it. With Erick Faatagi and Sione Tau lost to academics and Mike Iltis lost for the season to injury before the first game, the offensive line was depleted from the start. Then, with starters Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner and Ryan Miller lost for the season due to injuries in the past two weeks, the situation became critical. Redshirt freshman Matt Bahr had his first start against Texas, with fellow redshirt freshmen Ethan Adkins and Shawn Daniels playing their first snaps as Buffs. Certainly a baptism by fire against one of the best defensive lines in the country.

Much will be said and written about Cody Hawkins being ineffective at quarterback, and certainly the sophomore must shoulder his share of the blame (especially for the fumbles), but it is difficult to have a successful passing game without a complimentary running game, and it is impossible to have an effective running game without a productive offensive line. Until or unless the offensive line gels into a cohesive unit, the Colorado offense will continue to struggle, regardless of who is calling the plays under center.

The Colorado defense, despite the 39 and 38 point totals posted in the two losses, has been a pleasant surprise overall. The pass defense, which was supposed to be the vulnerable area for the Buffs, has generated seven interceptions and has not, with a few notable exceptions, given up the big pass play. The rushing defense, conversely, so far has been a disappointment. The Buffs are 89th in the nation in rush defense, after being ranked 31st in 2007. The Colorado defense has played well enough for the Buffs to be 5-0.

And special teams …..

No, I shouldn’t say anything about special teams. It was a long, lonely 11-hour drive back from Boulder on Sunday, and I might take off on a fatigue-induced rant.

We’ll just leave it at this: The grade here is south of “C”.

Still, I am cautiously optimistic as I slowly start to turn my attention towards Kansas. There is opportunity next Saturday in Lawrence for redemption. There is opportunity for upset.

On the other hand, by the end of the season I could be wrapping up a number of silk purses for Christmas.

October 4, 2014 – Boulder          Oregon State 36, Colorado 31

Drew Litton speaks for the Buff Nation:

Drew Litton: CU screwed by Pac-12 officiating
Drew Litton: CU screwed by Pac-12 officiating








Colorado went over 400 yards in total offense for the fifth straight game, something not seen in Boulder since 1996, but the 431 yards of total offense were not enough to overcome mistakes and some questionable officiating, with Oregon State escaping Boulder with a 36-31 victory.

The game was close on the scoreboard and on the stats sheet. Oregon State had 445 yards of total offense; Colorado 431. The Buffs had the edge in first downs, 25-22, and both teams went 6-for-14 on third down attempts. The Buffs did have one costly turnover, an interception which led to an eight yard touchdown drive by the Beavers in the first quarter.

Sefo Liufau went 32-for-49 for 308 yards, two touchdowns and that costly interception. Nelson Spruce, the nation’s leader in catches, yardage and touchdowns, was held to six catches for 35 yards. Tyler McCulloch helped to pick up the slack, with four receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Adkins, who had 14 carries for nine yards in the previous four games, had 13 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown to lead the Buffs’ rushing attack.

Shortly before game-time, it was announced that Colorado would play Oregon State without its big back, Christian Powell, who had suffered a concussion the previous week against California. Powell’s absence was felt early, as, on the first possession of the game, the Buffs faced a third-and-one at their 34-yard line. Tony Jones was unable to gain a yard, and the Buffs were forced into an early punt.

After the Buffs’ defense got the ball back for the offense, the Buffs were able to drive into Oregon State territory with a pair of Michael Adkins runs gaining 15 yards, and a Sefo Liufau pass to D.D. Goodson going for another 15. After a Liufau hit Kyle Slavin for nine yards, the Buffs faced another third-and-one, this time at the Oregon State 37-yard line. A long incompletion set up a fourth-and-one. This time, the Buffs tried fullback George Frazier, with Frazier stuffed for no gain and a turnover on downs.

The Beavers were not as gracious to their hosts with their second possession. On second-and-four at their 43-yard line, cornerback Greg Henderson had the chance to catch OSU running back Terron Ward for a loss. Henderson missed the tackle, though, and Ward turned the opportunity into a 33-yard gain. On the next play, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion hit tight end Caleb Smith for 20 yards down to the CU four yard line. Ward took it up the middle on the next play, and, with 8:05 left to play in the first quarter, it was 7-0, Oregon State.

It wouldn’t be 7-0 for long.

On third-and-12 on the Buffs’ next possession, Sefo Liufau was intercepted by Beaver linebacker D.J. Alexander, who returned the pick 25 yards to the Colorado eight yard line. Two Terron Ward four yard runs later, Oregon State had a 14-0 lead.

Continue reading Game story here

“There Are No Moral Victories” … 

Which was harder to take?

Last season in Corvallis, Colorado stayed with Oregon State for almost a half. By the end of the third quarter, though, it was 38-3, with the Buffs posting a pair of fourth quarter consolation touchdowns in a 44-17 final.

This season in Boulder, Colorado stayed with Oregon State throughout the entire game. Falling behind 14-0 early, the Buffs rallied to take a 21-20 lead, and were poised for a game-winning touchdown drive before failing to move the sticks in OSU territory in a 36-31 loss.

In 2013, the loss to the Beavers was not really a shock; the domination by the Beavers in the second half pretty much expected. Yes, it was painful to sit there in the rain as the Beaver fans celebrated touchdown after touchdown, but there was a numbness to it … after all, we’d been there, done that.

In 2014, the loss to the Beavers was a shock; there was no domination by the opposition. Fans left Folsom Field muttering about what woulda/coulda/shoulda been.

Continue reading Game Essay here


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