CU Games of the Day – October 6th

October 6th … CU has an 4-1 record on this date over the past 40 years, including the infamous “Fifth Down” game at Missouri … 1984: CU’s last loss to Missouri under Bill McCartney (before 10 straight wins) was a 52-7 rout … 1990: The “Fifth Down” game, including video of CU’s final drive) … 2001: The Buffs’ defense limits the Wildcat offense to just 196 total yards and only a late score in a 16-6 win over No. 12 Kansas State … 2007: Dan Hawkins earns his first road win as Colorado head coach as the Buffs took care of business with a 43-23 road win against Baylor … 2018: Laviska Shenault scores all four CU touchdowns as the Buffs defeat ASU and heralded rookie head coach Herm Edwards …

  • 1984: Missouri 52, Colorado 7 … The Buffs run for a season-high 134 yards (it was a 1-10 season), but it made no difference as the Tigers won for the sixth-straight time in the series …
  • 1990: Colorado 33, Missouri 31 … One of the most infamous games in college football history, Charles Johnson spikes the ball on “fourth down” before scoring the winning touchdown on “fifth down” … Essay: “Tempest in a Teapot” … 
  • 2001: Colorado 16, No. 12 Kansas State 6 … The Buffs give third-year head coach Gary Barnett his first big win as head coach in upsetting No. 12 Kansas State … Essay: “Ethan McLean Geiger” … Brad’s first-born did his part to help the Buffs by coming into the world on a day in which the Buffs won on an upset …
  • 2007: Colorado 43, Baylor 23 … Cody Hawkins passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Hugh Charles posted his third consecutive 100 yard game, putting up 122 yards on twenty carries in a comfortable road win for the Buffs … Essay: “Undefeated in New England” … We were checking out fall colors, which made it tough (but worthwhile) to track the night game from Waco …
  • 2018: No. 21 Colorado 28, Arizona State 21 … Laviskah Shenault scores twice on receptions and twice on runs to lead the Buffs over the Sun Devils … Essay: “Nothing to Say, a Lot to Prove” … The Buffs’ mantra for the 2018 season held up for another game as the Buffs raise their record to 5-0 …

Check out the stories for all five games below …

October 6, 1984 – at Missouri           Missouri 52, Colorado 7

The Missouri Tigers posted their sixth consecutive win over the Buffs in fine fashion, routing the Buffs in Columbia. The loss to his alma mater had to be that much harder for head coach Bill McCartney, as the Tigers continued their domination of his new team.

Missouri scores against McCartney’s 1982-84 Buffs: 35-14, 59-20, and 52-7.

Missouri came into the game 1-3, but the record was deceiving. The Tigers’ three losses had come by a total of only nine points, including a 16-14 defeat by Notre Dame. The Tigers would have defeated the Irish (the same Irish who had routed the Buffs 55-14) had kicker Brad Burditt been successful on a 39-yard field goal attempt with only seven seconds left in the game.

If there was any justice, Colorado’s first appearance on regional television since 1978 would have been blacked out. Even the Missouri faithful were not interested in the rout. After hosting over 70,000 for Notre Dame the weekend before, Faurot Field drew only 38,662, for the Colorado game, the smallest Missouri home crowd in 21 years.

Lee Rouson did have his second 100+ yard game of the season, rushing for 109 yards on 19 carries. Rouson’s effort was more productive than Colorado career passing leader Steve Vogel, who passed for only 105 yards on 9-for-21 passing. Vogel also threw two interceptions before being yanked for junior quarterback Craig Keenan. Keenan was only marginally more successful, passing for 85 yards, completing six-of-ten attempts.

Up 24-0 at halftime, the only questions for the Missouri crowd ponder for the second half were: 1) would Colorado score at all?, and 2) how many records could the Tigers run up? The answers: 1) yes, but only after the score had been run up to 45-0, and 2) several. Missouri posted the most yards rushing, 516, and the most total yards, 639, had ever achieved against the Buffs in a series which dated back to 1930.

Colorado was now 0-5. Dissension was starting to creep in. Lee Rouson was openly frustrated about the inability of offensive line to open holes. Boulder Daily Camera Sports Editor Dan Creedon, only half in jest, entitled his column after the game: “Can Buffs drop MU off schedule?”

Iowa State was next. The 2-3 Cyclones represented one of only three remaining realistic opportunities for wins. A member of the Colorado athletic department was quoted while walking off the field after the Missouri game: “Well, at least we can look forward to Iowa State next week.” followed by: “But, then, I guess Iowa State is looking forward to playing us.”

Game Notes … 

– Missouri had 516 yards rushing against Colorado in the 1984 game. While not close to the 758 yards rushing Oklahoma had against Colorado in 1980, no team has come close to rushing for 500 yards against Colorado since (Nebraska came the closest, with 417 yards rushing against the Buffs in 1987).

– Missouri also had 639 yards of total offense against the Buffs. It took 25 years, but it took a Toledo team in 2009 to surpass that total (624 in a 54-38 rout).

– Freshman fullback Eric McCarty had the only Colorado score. His 40-yard run was the longest run by a Buff all season.

– The good news: Colorado had its high rushing output of the season against Missouri. The bad news: it was only 134 yards.

– As CU at the Gamer Paul notes in the comments … While the 1984 win for Missouri was the sixth in a row for the Tigers, it was also the last victory for Missouri with Bill McCartney as the Buffs’ head coach. Coach Mac ran off ten straight wins against his alma mater, with the string of Buff victories stretching to twelve before the Tigers would earn their next win in the series, in 1997.

The “Fifth Down Game” … The controversial ending no one could see coming – and few got to watch … 

On October 6, 1990, the 12th-ranked Colorado Buffaloes traveled to Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri, to face the Missouri Tigers.

A top five team in the 1990 preseason poll, the Buffs had completed the non-conference portion of their schedule 3-1-1. Colorado tied No. 5 Tennessee to open the season, beat Stanford at home, and fell on the road to No. 21 Illinois before rebounding to defeat No. 22 Texas in Austin and No. 12 Washington in Boulder (yes, that’s right. Four ranked teams in five non-conference games – and the lone unranked opponent, Stanford, went on to upset No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend a few weeks after falling to Colorado – see below).

Missouri, under third year head coach Bob Stull, entered the contest with a 2-2 record. The Tigers had defeated Utah State and Arizona State, but had fallen to TCU and Indiana. The Tigers and 46,856 faithful fans were anxious to play the 12th-ranked Buffs. Missouri had owned the Buffs for many years, building a 33-13-1 series edge through 1984. Colorado, however, had run off five straight wins in the series heading into the 1990 game.

The big games of the day pitted No. 9 Miami against No. 2 Florida State (a 31-22 Miami victory) and No. 13 Illinois against No. 20 Ohio State (a 31-20 win for the Illini). Two undefeated top ten teams lost that Saturday, with No. 1 Notre Dame falling to Stanford, 36-31, and No. 7 Oklahoma falling to Texas, 14-13.

With such a big day in college football nationwide, there was no national or even regional television coverage of the Colorado/Missouri game. The game was televised locally in Denver on KCNC, though, preserving for posterity one of the most controversial endings in college football history.

October 6, 1990 – at Missouri           No. 12 Colorado 33, Missouri 31

Eric Bieniemy rushed for 217 yards against Missouri to become Colorado’s all-time leading ground gainer, but his accomplishment went completely unnoticed as Colorado scored on the last play of the game to pull out a controversial 33-31 win. Soon after the game ended it was confirmed that Charles Johnson’s score from a yard out to give Colorado the victory had actually come on a fifth down play.

The five play sequence went as follows:

1st-down-and-goal – Missouri three-yard line (:31 remaining in the game): quarterback Charles Johnson spikes the ball to stop the clock;

2nd-and-goal – Missouri three-yard line (:28 remaining): running back Eric Bieniemy up the middle for a gain of two yards (final time out, Colorado);

3rd-and-goal – Missouri one-yard line (:18 remaining): Bieniemy up the middle for no gain – referee stops the clock as players unpile;

4th-and-goal – Missouri one-yard line (:08 remaining): Johnson spikes the ball to stop the clock; and

5th-and-goal – Missouri one-yard line (:02 remaining): Johnson sneaks in around right end for the game-winning touchdown.

The game’s final play overshadowed not only Bieniemy’s record performance, but also the efforts of wideout Mike Pritchard, who scored on a 68-yard reverse and a 70-yard pass from Johnson, as well as those of Charles Johnson himself. Johnson, a junior, starting for the first time in his career, completed 10-of-18 passes for 151 yards, and led the Buffs to the fateful touchdown to cap a 15-play, 88-yard drive after Missouri had retaken the lead, 31-27, with only 2:32 to play in the game.

The game should have been remembered as a tight game with multiple momentum swings. The game was tied three times (7-7; 14-14; and 24-24), with the lead changing hands five times. The Buffs’ final drive (shown in its entirety in the video, above) had an 18-yard scramble by Johnson, a 22-yard completion from Johnson to tight end Rico Smith on a third-and-ten, and a 15-yard run by Bieniemy. The drive also shows a number of slips by Colorado players when they were in the open field, including the completion down to the three yard line to set up the final five-play sequence.

After the game, no one was interested in Colorado’s 4-1-1 record. All that was up for discussion was the fifth down play. Colorado head coach Bill McCartney did not help matters when he deflected questions as to forfeiting the game, instead focusing on the condition of Faurot Field. “The biggest story is that the field is not playable,” said McCartney. “No one should have to play on that field. You can’t even make a cut on that dang field … We slipped and slid all day, or we would have put more points on the board; I’ll tell you that.” In response, Missouri head coach Bob Stull ranted, “They get five downs and he’s crying? We should have stopped them on fifth down.”

Asked about a reversal of the outcome, McCartney stated: “My reaction to that would be that it would be unfair because the field was treacherous; it was not a playable field.”

As to the final plays, McCartney said: “We all thought we had scored on fourth down. We had set our strategy based on the yard marker and what we saw on the scoreboard clock. Had I known it was third down, then our strategy with the timeout would have been to pass on third down …. And then run on fourth down.”

At least one player on the field thought that the down markers were wrong. Center Jay Leeuwenburg, in the sideline huddle after Colorado had called its final timeout, took issue with the Buffs’ strategy, which called for a run on second (actually third) down, then to spike the ball on third (fourth) down. “I said to coach Mac, ‘You can’t do that. It will be fourth down,’ ” recalled Leeuwenburg. “And I distinctly remember him looking at me and saying, ‘You’re the player and you’re job is to play. And my job as coach is to coach. And this is what we’re doing.’ So, I thought I was wrong. I thought that somehow in the heat of the moment I must have miscounted.”

Coach McCartney actually called referee J.C. Louderback over to the sideline to tell him the plays Colorado was going to run. Only 18 seconds remained, and Colorado was out of time outs. So, if Bieniemy’s run up the middle on second (third) down was unsuccessful, McCartney didn’t want Missouri players holding Colorado players down while the clock was running, preventing Colorado from spiking the ball on third (fourth) down.

Colorado coaches and players have long noted that the Buffs certainly would not have spiked the ball on fourth down, had they known that was the case. “In five downs, we spiked the ball twice,” said McCartney. “No one’s ever done that. If the referee had said to me, ‘Coach, it’s not second down, it’s third down. Those things are wrong and you only have two downs’, we would have had a different strategy. We would have thrown the ball on third down, and went ahead with the play we ran on fourth down that we scored on.”

After the game was over, both teams started to leave the field, amidst a chorus of boos from the Faurot Field crowd – some who were aware of the referee’s gaffe; some who felt that Johnson had not scored on the game’s final play; and some who were angry about both. Fifteen minutes later, the teams were summoned back onto the field … so that Colorado could attempt its extra point. The only chance Colorado had of losing at that point was if an extra point attempt was blocked and returned for a two-point conversion, so Charles Johnson simply took a snap and knelt down, and the game was finally over.

Here is the YouTube video of the final drive (not how many times CU ball carriers slip on this drive alone) …

Big Eight Conference commissioner Carl James announced after the game that the conference, through its officiating supervisor John McClintock, would review and “fully cover the extra scrimmage play that evidently was allowed.” The net result was a brief suspension of the officiating crew, but no reversal of the outcome of the game. What about the NCAA? Dave Nelson, NCAA rules book secretary and editor, was succinct. “There are two rules that cover that. The team with the greater number of points at the conclusion of the game is the winner. And the game is over when the officials say it’s over.”

The lead official for the game was J.C. Louderback, a calculus teacher by trade. Louderback received the bulk of the blame for allowing the fifth down, but no one else in the officiating crew or the chain gang came to Louderback’s rescue. “It’s on the second down, I go to coach McCartney to let him know it’s his last timeout,” recalled Louderback. “So they take their timeout, and they have their little discussion of what’s going on and go back and get ready to play the next down. And that’s when the down marker never changed.”

It’s worthy of note that spiking the ball to stop the clock, a common occurrence in the modern game, was only first permitted in the 1990 season. As a result, the officials and chain gang might be forgiven for overlooking the Buffs’ “non-play” on first-and-goal. “There’s no doubt in my mind is that Colorado’s very first down, where they stopped the clock and downed it,” said Louderback, “that mentally left everybody’s mind.”

The Colorado players, as innocent as the Missouri players as to what had transpired on the field, were nonetheless made to pay a price. In the next poll, the 4-1-1 Buffs were dropped to #14, down two spots despite the victory. Colorado and its fans could take heart, however, in the new #1 team, Michigan. Losses by #1 Notre Dame (36-31 to Stanford) and #2 Florida State (31-22 to Miami) allowed #3 Michigan to vault into first place. The Wolverines ranking represented the first time in the 54-year history of the Associated Press poll that a team with one loss had been ranked #1 this early in the season (Michigan was 3-1, having lost its opening game to Notre Dame, 28-24). As a result, despite there being eight undefeated and untied teams in the poll, a team with a blemish was still ranked #1.

Was it possible for a team with two blemishes to still compete for the national title?

Only if the Buffs ran the table in the Big Eight.

And if everyone would stop talking about the “Fifth Down Game”.

Tempest in a Teapot

While the NCAA made it clear that it had no authority to reverse the outcome of the Colorado/Missouri game, and while Bill McCartney made it clear he had no intention of forfeiting the game, there was precedent for a forfeit. In 1940, Cornell trailed Dartmouth, 3-0, late in the game. A mixup similar to the one in Columbia, Missouri, allowed the Big Red to score late and extend its unbeaten streak to 19 games with a 7-3 win. Later, when films confirmed that Cornell had scored on a fifth down play, Cornell yielded its claim to victory, proclaiming Dartmouth a 3-0 victor.

Would McCartney and Colorado do the same?

“It’s a once in a lifetime situation and I wish it hadn’t ended this way,” said McCartney. “It (the playing field) was not a fair test for our team. For us to forfeit under all these circumstances is absurd. If I felt like Missouri had outplayed us under fair conditions and we were inadvertently given an extra play at the end, I’d have met with my coaches and really search my heart to consider if we shouldn’t forfeit the game. But I don’t feel like that.” Neither the Big Eight nor the NCAA had any authority to tell Colorado otherwise, and the final score stood.

In Bozeman, I took my share of grief from those who knew I was a Buff supporter. Most of the comments were along the lines of: “Didn’t they teach you how to count when you were in Boulder?” My redemption came in an editorial in the Billings Gazette later that week. Rich Underwood, in his “Sports Commentary” column, penned: “As scandals go, it’s a tempest in a teapot.” Underwood went on to note that, while he was a Missouri graduate himself, there was no need to belabor the outcome. “Send flowers and condolences to Missouri,” he wrote, “and move on to next week.”

I could not have said it better myself.

Game Notes …

– With his 217 yards against Missouri, Eric Bieniemy became the all-time leading rusher in Colorado history. The previous record, of 2,958 yards, was held by Charlie Davis (1971-73). By the end of the 1990 season, Bieniemy pushed the new all-time mark up to 3,940 yards. Bieniemy would also set the new standards for career attempts (699, surpassing the 568 attempts of Bobby Anderson), and would set the new single season mark of 1,628 yards, besting the 1,386 posted by Charlie Davis in 1971).

– Bieniemy also had the longest non-scoring run of the season against Missouri, a 65-yarders. His 217 yards was a career-high, tying him with Mike Pritchard for 6th on the all-time single game list (Pritchard had his 217 yard game in the 1990 season opener against Tennessee).

– Charles Johnson, who would go on to be the hero of the Orange Bowl, was credited with his first career start against Missouri. His ten completions against Missouri was a career high.

– The Missouri game represented the sixth time in six games in the 1990 season in which the outcome of the Colorado game came down to the final minutes.

– Missouri would not rebound from the loss to Colorado. The Tigers would only defeat the Kansas schools in Big Eight play, settling for a 2-5 conference record; 4-7 overall. The win for the Buffs was their sixth straight in the series, by far the longest streak. The win represented only the sixth victory for Colorado in Columbia in 28 attempts (there were two ties to go with 20 losses).

October 6, 2001 – at Kansas State         Colorado 16, No. 12 Kansas State 6

The Buff players handed 3rd-year head coach Gary Barnett his first big win as CU head coach, manhandling Kansas State, 16-6.

The Buffs allowed only a late fourth-quarter touchdown to a team which had torched the Sooners for 37 points in Norman a week earlier.  In moving to 2-0 in Big 12 play, the Buffs made a statement.  “I felt like we dominated them all around,” said CU redshirt-freshman defensive tackle Brandon Dabdoub.  “I think we showed the Big 12 and the whole country we’re for real.”

The Buffs’ defense limited the Wildcat offense to just 196 total yards.  Kansas State quarterback Eli Roberson, who passed for 257 yards against Oklahoma, hit just 10-of-29 passes for 107 yards and two interceptions.  He was also sacked six times by the Buffs, including two sacks each by sophomore defensive end Matt McChesney and junior defensive end Tyler Brayton.

But the Buffs’ offense was merely adequate against the Kansas State defense, which entered the game ranked eighth nationally.  Quarterback Craig Ochs connected with tight end Daniel Graham from 21 yards out in the second quarter to give the Buffs a 7-0 halftime lead. Graham’s circus catch would be the only contact the Buffs would have with the Wildcat endzone on the day.  It was then left to Jeremy Flores to extend the lead, hitting on field goals of 31, 20, and 22 yards.

Flores’ last field goal came with 2:37 left in the game, and capped a final flourish by the Buffs which was indicative of their play on the day.

With just under six minutes left, the Wildcats took possession at their own 31-yard line.  With their team trailing 13–6 (K-State missed the extra point attempt on its fourth quarter touchdown), the 51,101 purple-clad faithful on hand expected a quick score from their explosive offense to tie the game.

Instead, the Colorado defense rose to the occasion.

On first down, Brayton sacked Roberson for a nine-yard loss.  On second down, junior linebacker Joey Johnson stopped a screen pass for a two-yard loss.  Sophomore defensive end Marques Harris then sacked Roberson on third down, and the Wildcats were forced to punt.  Roman Hollowell returned the ensuing punt 41 yards deep into Wildcat territory, setting up Flores’ third field goal and the game’s final points.

“Obviously, it was important for this season,” understated Gary Barnett after the game.  “When something’s really important to you and you’re really committed, anything can happen, and that’s what happened today.”

There was no time for anything but a quick locker room celebration, however.  Texas A&M and Texas were up next on the schedule, and both were ranked.  Texas A&M was 5-0 on the season, 2-0 in Big 12 play.  But the Aggies were less than impressive in some of their outings, and were struggling to get past hapless Baylor, 16-10, while the Buffs were taking on Kansas State.  The game would be in Boulder, and the Buffs would have to be ready in what promised to be a defensive showdown.

 Ethan McLean Geiger … 

The call came just after the ESPN ticker announced that the CU/KSU game had gone to halftime.  I was at home in Bozeman, relegated to watching coverage of other games while I waited for updates on the Buffs.

The call was not a surprise. In fact, it was expected.  I had delayed taking the dogs out for a halftime walk in anticipation of the phone ringing.  I had spoken with Brad on Thursday, and he had indicated that he would call during the game on Saturday to give me a report (the game was being televised in the Denver area).

I checked the caller ID box as I went to pick up the phone, expecting to see Brad’s home telephone number appear.

But it wasn’t Brad’s home phone number.

It was the phone number of a hospital.

It was Brad on the other end of the line, and Brad had called to talk about the game.  Brad did want to discuss how well CU’s defense had played in the first half in leading CU to a 7-0 advantage.  But there was a difference.  Brad was calling from the hospital, where he was holding his sleeping newborn son in his arms.

Ethan McLean Geiger was born early on October 6, 2001.  While mother and child were both doing well, they were understandably tired and were resting while Brad watched the CU game.

The proud father couldn’t help but to point out that when they brought Ethan back to the hospital room, CU scored its first half touchdown.  For Brad, this was a sign of good things to come.  In deference to the moment, I resisted the temptation to remind Brad that on his wedding day in 1997, another noteworthy day in his life, the Buffs had been humiliated 27-3 against Michigan. Arguably, the CU loss to Michigan in 1997, when the Buffs were ranked 8th in the nation, marked the end of an era.  The Buffs fell out of the top ten in the national polls after the loss, and had not returned since.  The October 6, 2001, win over Kansas State, on the other hand, was being lauded as CU’s biggest road victory since the Buffs had defeated ninth-ranked Kansas State in Manhattan in 1996, or perhaps even the greatest since the “Miracle in Michigan” in 1994.

Was this win the beginning of the “Return to Dominance” which had been forecast by Gary Barnett upon his return to Boulder in 1999?

Was Barnett’s record, now 14-14 with the Buffs, to remain on the upswing from here on?  Was the four-year wait for Ethan to arrive the reason for the Buffs’ struggles?

In any event, the Colorado Buffaloes were now 1-0 in the Ethan McLean Geiger era, and had started with a noteworthy win.  Who was I to argue with fate?

“Well done, Ethan”, I thought.  Now I was just hopeful that he would be able to keep up his good work.  Another ranked opponent was only a week away.

Game Notes:

– With the win over 12th-ranked Kansas State, Colorado returned to the polls. The No. 20 ranking was the first for the Buffs since opening the 2000 season. The 22-week drought was the longest for CU since the 1987-’88 seasons.

–  The Buffs win in Manhattan marked the first loss by the Wildcats to an unranked team in 58 games, a streak which went back to 1989.

– Linebacker Jashon Sykes, who had foregone an opportunity to go to the NFL so that he could return to Boulder for his senior season, did not play against Kansas State. Sykes had been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his upper neck, and was out for the season (Sykes would go un-drafted in 2002, but would sign on as a free agent with the Denver Broncos, playing three seasons).

– The Buffs’ win over the 12th-ranked team in the country was the first such win for the program since CU knocked off the 9th-ranked team in the nation, also Kansas State, back in 1996.

– While the Buffs and Wildcats were struggling to score, there was a noteworthy game going on a few hundred miles to the east. On October 6, 2001, Middle Tennessee State defeated Idaho, 70-58. The 128 points set a new NCAA record for a game between two 1-A teams, eclipsing the 124 points put up in Oklahoma’s rout of Colorado in 1980. After over 20 years, a long-standing record, with CU name on the short end, was finally off the books.

October 6, 2007 – at Baylor           Colorado 43, Baylor 23

Dan Hawkins earned his first road win as Colorado head coach as the Buffs took care of business with a 43-23 road win against Baylor. Snapping a two game losing streak against the Bears, the Buffs had many stars, including freshman running back Demetrius Sumler, who had two touchdowns rushing and one receiving, freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins, who passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Hugh Charles, who posted his third consecutive 100 yard game, putting up 122 yards on twenty carries.

As large as a 20-point win on the road may be, Colorado could have won by a much larger score. Thanks in part to the largess of their hosts, the Buffs had the opportunity to send the 32,376 in attendance home much earlier than the 9:37 p.m. final gun.

The Buffs opened the game with an impressive seven play, 82-yard drive for a score. The player of the drive was senior wide receiver Dusty Sprague. On the game’s third play, Hawkins hit Sprague for 27 yards. Two plays later, Hawkins hit Sprague again for another 28 yards. Completing the trifecta two plays later, Hawkins connected with Sprague from 26 yards out to give the Buffs an early 7-0 lead.

The Bears looked to make a game of it after the ensuing kickoff was returned to the Colorado 49-yard line. Three consecutive penalties, though, brought about a third-and-30 which Baylor failed to convert. The Buffs pushed the ball into Baylor territory on their second possession, but a fumble by freshman running back Samson Jagoras gave the ball back to the Bears near midfield.

Unwilling or unable to take advantage of the beneficial field position, Baylor gave the ball right back to Colorado, as senior linebacker Jordon Dizon intercepted Baylor quarterback Blake Szymanski, returning the pick to the Baylor nine yard line. Then, it was the Buffs who failed to capitalize, as CU went backwards before Kevin Eberhart missed a 36 yard field goal attempt.

A few minutes later, a 42-yard punt return by Stephone Robinson gave the ball to the Buffs at the Bears’ 24 yard line. Again, Colorado was unable to move the ball, settling for an Eberhart 41-yard field goal just before the end of the quarter.

The score moved from 10-0 to 17-0 early in the second quarter. A second Szymanski interception, this one by freshman cornerback Jonathan Hawkins (no relation) gave the Buffs the ball at the Baylor 41. Eight plays later, Cody Hawkins hit Demetrius Sumler for a seven yard touchdown to give the Buffs a 17-0 lead.

A 79-yard field goal drive by Baylor pulled the Bears to within 17-3, but one drive later a fumble by Baylor running back Jay Findley was recovered by CU freshman (there’s that word again!) linebacker Josh Hartigan at the Baylor 26-yard line. After a Cody Hawkins completion of 23 yards to Kendrick Celestine, Demetrius Sumler scored his second touchdown, this time on a run from three yards out, to give the Buffs a commanding 24-3 lead with 4:36 left before halftime.

Not content to keep a good thing going, the Buffs gave up a short drive (at least in duration) to the Bears on their next possession. It took only two plays for the Bears to cover 64 yards (including a 62-yard pass play) to pull Baylor back into the game at 24-9 (the extra point attempt was missed).

Two field goals by Kevin Eberhart before halftime made up for the Baylor score. The first came the conventional way, as the Buffs put together a seven-play drive finalized by a 44-yard field goal with 1:00 before half to put the Buffs up 27-9. A three-and-out followed by a shanked punt of only 19 yards gave Eberhart one last play, and Eberhart made the Bears pay, as he hit for a career long 54-yarder as time expired in the half.

Comfortably up 30-9, the Buffs nonetheless made sure early in the second half that there would be no comeback by the Bears. Baylor went nowhere on its first two drives of the half, while Colorado put up another field goal by Eberhart, this time from 42 yards away, and a third touchdown by Sumler, scoring from two yards out midway through the third quarter to make the score: Colorado 40, Baylor 9.

The remainder of the game saw Baylor outscore Colorado 14-3, but the game was long since decided. Baylor, which had been held to nine points and 220 yards in the game’s first 39 minutes, posted 245 yards and two touchdowns in the last 21 minutes. For the game, Baylor quarterback Blake Szymanski put up some large numbers, connecting on 36 of 60 passes for 410 yards, but many of those yards came after the final outcome was determined.

The 43-23 final represented a 20-point win, on the road, by a team which had just doubled its win total from the previous season in the first weekend in October. Time for celebration? Not in the Buffs’ locker room. “If you walked into the locker room, you’d think we just lost,” said quarterback Cody Hawkins. “How many times do you win by 20 points and everybody is kicking themselves in the foot and throwing their helmets on the ground?” Hawkins went on to answer his own question: “I think that’s what you want to have because you expect perfection in every game.”

The quarterback’s father agreed. “We’re always looking for that perfect tapestry,” said Dan Hawkins. “So the fact that you come on the road and haven’t won on the road, score 43 and win by 20 and you’re going, ‘Dang’. That’s probably a good sign.”

Thanks mostly to Baylor ‘s success late in the game, the statistical edge went largely to the Bears. Baylor had more first downs than the Buffs (24-18), more passing yards (410 to 293), and more total yards (465 to 450). Still, it was Colorado which had the big win. Pushing the Buffs’ overall record to 4-2, CU was also 2-0 in Big 12 play, the only North Division team which could make that claim. The 17th-ranked Missouri Tigers were 1-0 in conference play after completely dismantling Nebraska, 41-6, while the unranked (but undefeated) Kansas Jayhawks were also 1-0 after a surprising 30-24 win on the road over 24th-ranked Kansas State.

Up next for the Buffs were those same K-State Wildcats. Kansas State (4-2, 1-1) dropped out of the national polls after the loss to Kansas, but these were still the same Wildcats who had shocked Texas in Austin the weekend before, 41-21. Given the choice between the two, Buff fans would happily take the team which had lost at home to the Jayhawks.

Undefeated in New England

Writing up a review for a big CU win was all the nicer when, in the background, there is the sound of the Atlantic Ocean hitting up against the shoreline (sorry – couldn’t resist. “Having a great time. Wish you were here, etc. etc. …”).

Spending the better part of a week in Boston and New Hampshire visiting family on both sides, I “watched” most of the CU/Baylor game on the internet in a hotel room in Concord, New Hampshire. We went out to dinner Saturday night in a group totaling nine (including two grandsons), so I wouldn’t have been able to keep track of much of the game in normal circumstances, but I was aided by the fact that the game had a 7:00 p.m. eastern time zone starting time. By the time we got back to our hotel room, it was midway through the second quarter, and the Buffs were already up, 17-0.

Nice.

With the win, I was now able to boast a 2-0 record when in New England during the football season.

The first opportunity came about a decade earlier when I was in Syracuse, New York, for a Lions Club USA/Canada Forum. Then, I had to duck out of a banquet several times in order to learn that Colorado had escaped with a last minute touchdown to defeat Wyoming, 20-19.

What to make of the 4-2, 2-0 record at the halfway point of the season?

Well, for starters, I wasn’t convinced that the Buffs were going to win the Big 12 North just because Colorado was now riding a three game winning streak. Many of us saw the Buffs at 3-3 at this juncture, with only the Oklahoma win being unpredicted (and totally unpredictable). While it was reassuring to see the offense begin to click, and to see the defense continue its fine play (the last quarter of the Baylor game notwithstanding) there was still much work to be done.

Winning in Manhattan had become difficult for the Buffs in recent years, and I didn’t see that the loss by the Wildcats to the Jayhawks making the game any easier. If anything, the Buffs may have benefitted from a close Kansas State win (and perhaps, some overconfidence on the part of the players).

What was tantalizing, though, was how close the Buffs had come to being a national player again in just a few short weeks. In the new AP poll, the Buffs were tied for 27th place in points. A win against KSU would almost guarantee a national ranking in the next poll. The Colorado/Kansas State game was slated for national coverage on ESPN2. Not quite the 1:30 ABC national coverage of the big boys, but much closer than the Buffs had been in some time.

I was not quite sold on 2007. A couple of wins in the next two weeks against the Sunflower State teams, and I would become a believer. Still, I was quite sold on 2009, and perhaps even 2008. Taking a look back at all the contributions being made by freshmen on the 2007 team (two of the turnovers against Baylor were made by freshmen not even appearing on the depth chart!). There was much to be excited about for the future.

Perhaps even the present.

October 6, 2018 – Boulder           No. 21 Colorado 28, Arizona State 21

Laviska Shenault scored four touchdowns, with two scoring receptions and two scoring runs, leading No. 21 Colorado to a 28-21 win over Arizona State. For the game, Shenault had 13 receptions for 127 yards, to go with five carries for 13 yards.

Quarterback Steven Montez went 24-for-33 for 328 yards and two touchdowns, while Travon McMillian had 30 carries for 136 yards, becoming the first CU running back since Rashaan Salaam to post four 100-yard rushing games in the first five games of the season.

The game was tight throughout, with Arizona State taking 7-0, 14-7, and 21-14 leads, with the CU offense responding each time. Late i the third quarter, the Buffs took their first lead of the game on a Montez-to-Shenault three yard score. The Sun Devils appeared ready to respond, but cornerback Delrick Abrams, Jr., knocked away a Manny Wilkins pass on fourth-and-goal from the CU three yard line to preserve the lead.

“When you are the underdog you have to try and steal a possession and go for it even more”, said first-year head coach Herm Edwards of his decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter. “That is the logic behind it … If you do not you feel like you have nine minutes left—you hold them they punt, you can hopefully get the ball on the fifty and you get another shot. So it just didn’t work out.”

Continue reading Game Story here

“Nothing to Say … A Lot to Prove” – CU’s mantra for the 2018 season is paying dividends … 

For the unbeaten Colorado Buffaloes, it was kind of a rough week.

Instead of being celebrated as being the only team in the Pac-12 to emerge from the month of September without a loss, it was a week of Buff-bashing for the No. 21 team in the nation.

Brad Crawford at 247Sports had this to say … College football’s worst unbeaten Power 5 team is Colorado, per ESPN’s analytics model. Ranked No. 53 this week in the FPI, there’s still a good chance the Buffaloes (4-0) fail to reach bowl season believe it or not. Colorado isn’t expected to win against Arizona State, USC, Washington, Arizona, Washington State, Utah or California the rest of the way. That would be a cataclysmic collapse for Mike MacIntyre and Co. This week’s game vs. Arizona State is the first loss.

Continue reading Game Essay here

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