CU Games of the Day – October 8th

October 8th … CU has a 3-4 record on this date over the past 40 years … 1983: Missouri builds a 31-0 halftime lead and cruises to a 59-20 rout … 1988: No. 13 Oklahoma State, behind Barry Sanders, routs CU, 41-21 … 1992: CU’s first game in Columbia since the 5th down game is a 6-0 cliffhanger played in the rain … 1994: No. 5 Buffs, behind Kordell Stewart (16-21 for 228 yards and two touchdowns) and Rashaan Salaam (166 yards on 28 carries and two scores) take out Missouri 38-23 … 2005: The Buffs races to a 21-0 first quarter lead, never looking back in a 41-20 romp over Texas A&M … 2011: No. 7 Stanford has little trouble routing Buffs, 48-7 … 2016: Buffs play USC as a ranked team (No. 21), but can’t pull out CU’s first-ever win over the Trojans …

  • 1983: Missouri 59, Colorado 20 … Bill McCartney: “We got beat every way you can get beat” … It was actually worse, with the score 59-3 before Buffs pick up a few garbage touchdowns …
  • 1988: No. 13 Oklahoma State 41, Colorado 21 … When viewed against his Heisman Trophy winning stats on the season, Barry Sanders’ four-touchdown, 174-yard performance against the Buffs wasn’t all that bad … Essay: “Watching Barry” …
  • 1992: No. 9 Colorado 6, Missouri 0 … Played in steady rain, 46-degree temperatures and 10-20 mph winds, the game was, not surprisingly, controlled by the elements …
  • 1994: No. 5 Colorado 38, Missouri 23 … In cruising to a 21-7 first quarter lead, Colorado never allows the Tigers within two scores the remainder of the game, coasting to a 38-23 win …
  • 2005: Colorado 41, Texas A&M 20 … Joel Klatt completes 28-of-36 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns … Essay: “Beyond Cool” … Brad and I have press passes for the game, which gets up into the press box for the first half, and down on the field for the second half …
  • 2011: No. 7 Stanford 48, Colorado 7 … Leading Heisman trophy candidate Andrew Luck passed for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns in rout … Essay:Reflections on Turning Fifty” … Not the best birthday present, having no chance at winning …
  • 2016: USC 21, No. 21 Colorado 17 … The Colorado defense forced four USC turnovers, but also allowed 540 yards of total offense as the Trojans defeated the Buffs for the 11th-straight time, 21-17 … Essay: “Moving (Just a Little) Too Fast” … First time ranked since 2005 – not enough to take out USC …

Check out the stories for all seven games below …

October 8, 1983 – Boulder           Missouri 59, Colorado 20

The excitement surrounding the Buffs’ two game winning streak in September seemed like ancient history only eight days into October.

As Notre Dame had done the week before, Missouri took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for a touchdown. It was just the beginning of a rout that, if possible, was even worse than the 59-20 score indicates. In Coach McCartney’s words: “We got beat every way you can get beat … soundly, thoroughly, in every way”.

To underscore the domination, it should be noted that the score was 59-6 with only a few minutes left in the game. Colorado did score two gimme touchdowns in the last 2:18 of the game, narrowly avoiding a 50-point loss.

Colorado’s first points, a four-yard touchdown pass from Steve Vogel to tight end Jon Embree, didn’t come until Missouri had built a 31-0 second quarter lead. The final two touchdowns, after the game was well out of hand, came with Derek Marshall at quarterback. The first came on a  four-yard run by Guy Egging; the second on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Marshall to sophomore tight end Hugo Nevarez.

“I knew emotionally we were somewhat spent,” said Bill McCartney. “I thought we’d bounce back, but I was scared all week … What led up to this as much as anything was all the emphasis we placed on the pre-season and Notre Dame.”

Not surprisingly, the Tigers dominated the stats sheet.

Missouri rolled up 381 yards rushing to only 53 for Colorado. Missouri had, despite dominating the series against the Buffs (32-13-3 after the 1983 game) had only twice, in 47 previous contests, scored over 35 points in a single game. In 1983, the Tigers had 38 points at halftime.

The question of which direction the 2-2 Buffs would take after the Notre Dame game had been answered.

The Buffs were not back. However, up next was Iowa State, 2-3 under first-year head coach Jim Criner. The game would be in Ames, but the Buffs did own a 14-5 advantage in the series in games played on the road.

Colorado was 2-3, 0-1 in Big Eight play. It was not too late to salvage the 1983 season.

Game Notes … 

– The Colorado/Missouri game was the fourth straight home game for Colorado. The last time the Buffs had spent that much time at home was in 1978, when Colorado opened with five straight home games (Colorado won all five, rising to 13th in the polls, before stumbling to a 6-5 finish).

– The touchdown reception by freshman tight end Jon Embree was the first of his career (and only touchdown catch of his freshman season). Embree would go on to set most of the season and career tight end records at Colorado, including receptions (80) and career receiving yards (1,166).

– Wide receiver Ron Brown, who had five catches for a career-high 143 receiving yards against Oregon State, had only one catch – for 37 yards – against Notre Dame. Brown followed that up with one catch – for 37 yards – against Missouri.

– Shelby Nash tied a team record with eight kickoff returns in a single game, returning eight Missouri offerings for 151 yards (tying the record set by Walter Stanley against Nebraska in 1981, who had eight kick returns for 123 yards). The record was tied again in 2009, when Darrell Scott had eight kickoff returns against Colorado (for 204 yards).

– Missouri would go on to finish 7-5 in 1983. The Tigers went 5-2 in Big Eight play, including a 10-0 win over No. 11 Oklahoma. Missouri was invited to play No. 9 BYU in the Holiday, falling 21-17 to the Cougars (the year before BYU would go on to win the 1984 national championship).

October 8, 1988 – Boulder           No. 13 Oklahoma State 41, Colorado 21

In Colorado=s earlier game against a ranked team (on the road v. Iowa), the Buffs raced to a 14-0 lead on their way to 24-21 upset. Versus 13th-rated Oklahoma State, Colorado again opened strong. A three-yard scoring run by quarterback Sal Aunese gave Colorado a 7-0 lead six minutes into the game.

That was about it, however, for the Buffs’ chances at an upset.

There were no fourth quarter heroics in Colorado’s Big Eight opener, as the Cowboys, behind All-American running back Barry Sanders, scored the next 24 points of the game on their way to a 41-21 decision over the Buffs.

After Aunese=s score, Oklahoma State responded with three Sanders= touchdown runs and a 30-yard field goal to take a commanding second quarter lead of 24-7. Colorado showed some life just before half, as Aunese scored his second touchdown of the afternoon from a yard out with eight seconds left to pull the Buffs to within 24-14. This was as close as the Buffs would come, however, as Barry Sanders put the game away with a 65-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. On the day Sanders put up four scores in rushing for 174 yards on 24 carries.

With Colorado trailing by double digits much of the game, the likely conclusion would be that the Buffs were run out of their own stadium. In fact, the Buffs were their own worst enemies, turning the ball over six times. The six miscues lead directly to 20 Oklahoma State points.

Colorado did put up 390 yards of total offense (compared to 440 for Oklahoma State), but did not convert when it mattered most. The result was a 20-point home loss.

Colorado was now 4-1 on the season, but, more significantly, 0-1 in Big Eight play. With Oklahoma and Nebraska – both in the national top ten – still to play, the Buffs could not afford another loss to any other conference members if there was to be any hope of avoiding a losing conference record and a possible bowl snub for the second consecutive year.

Watching Barry

Barry Sanders in 1988 would go on to set single season NCAA records in a number of categories. The Oklahoma State running back would rush for a total of 2,628 yards in 1988, smashing the NCAA single-season record of 2,342 yards set by Marcus Allen of USC. His yards/game average of 238.9 also set a national record, as did his 37 touchdowns and per carry average of 7.64. When viewed against this background, the four touchdown, 174-yard performance against the Buffs was not extraordinary.

But it was.

In the first half of the Colorado/Oklahoma State game, Sanders scored three times. The longest of these runs, though, was only seven yards.

Nothing spectacular.

It was the fourth touchdown, though, which I remember. The Buffs had scored just before halftime to pull within 24-14. Colorado was still ten down, but these Buffs had rallied for wins in each of the last three contests. If the Buffs could contain Sanders and his Cowboy teammates, the Buffs still had a chance, and the 41,854 on hand were hoping for just such a comeback.

Leave it to Barry Sanders to take away all hope.

Sanders, on a third-and-one from the Oklahoma State 35-yard line, raced around the corner for 65 yards and a score which took the wind out of the Buffs= sails. Two quick Buff turnovers were then converted into ten more points for the Cowboys and a 24-14 game was quickly converted into a 41-14 rout. Only a 16-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Darian Hagan with just over a minute remaining in the game gave the Buffs some measure of solace.

Everyone in attendance in Boulder knew that Sanders was a special talent, destined for future glory. As Sanders was a junior, we figured we would have one more look at this back before he turned pro. We did not know at the time that Sanders would instead opt to leave early for the NFL.

Brad and I would see Sanders once more in his collegiate career, but it would not be against the Buffs …

As fate would have it, we ended up in southern California for CU’s 1988 Freedom Bowl appearance, then drove down to San Diego to watch Oklahoma State take on Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl.

Game Notes … 

– Sophomore linebacker Terry Johnson, the hero of the Colorado State game (two interceptions) earned his first career start against Oklahoma State. Johnson subbed for an injured Don DeLuzio, who returned to the starting lineup the following week.

– The Buffs’ rushing numbers were almost identical to those posted by the Cowboys. Oklahoma State had 238 yards on 51 carries; Colorado had 241 yards on 52 carries. The difference? Oklahoma State had five rushing touchdowns, while the Buffs could only post two rushing scores.

– Down two scores or more most of the game, Colorado had the most passes completions of any game all season – eight. And it took three quarterbacks to do it. Sal Aunese hit on five-of-13 passes, for 98 yards; Darian Hagan hit on two-of-three, for 33 yards (and an interception), while Marc Walters hit on one-of-three attempts, for 18 yards. Meanwhile, future Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, when he wasn’t handing off to Barry Sanders, completed 13-of-20 passes for 202 yards.

– Barry Sanders’ four touchdown effort against the Buffs matched the best effort of any player against Colorado in 1988 … and Sanders did that often that season. Sanders, who would win the Heisman trophy at the conclusion of the 1988 season, joined some illustrious company with his four-touchdown game against Colorado:

— Steve Owens, the 1969 Heisman trophy winner for Oklahoma, had four rushing touchdowns against the Buffs in 1969;

—  Joe Washington, who finished third in the Heisman voting in 1974, had four rushing touchdowns for the Sooners in 1974; and

— Mike Rozier, the Heisman trophy winner in 1983, had four rushing touchdowns against the Buffs for Nebraska in the 1983 game.

– Colorado gave up 41 points to Oklahoma State, but only one other team in 1988, Oklahoma, held the potent Cowboy offense below that number (the Sooners held the Cowboys to 28 points). Oklahoma State led the nation in scoring in 1988, posting an average of 47.5 points per game.

– The win over Colorado bumped Oklahoma State up from 13th in the polls to 10th. The stay in the top ten was to be short-lived, however, as the following week, the Cowboys lost to No. 7 Nebraska, 63-42, dropping Oklahoma State to 15th. The only other loss for Oklahoma State in 1988 came at the hands of No 8 Oklahoma, 31-28. A 10-2 season was capped off by a 62-14 destruction of Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl (referenced above – Brad and I went to the Holiday Bowl after watching the Buffs play in the Freedom Bowl the night before. Stories on both games can be found in the Archives of the 1988 season).

October 8, 1992 – at Missouri          No. 9 Colorado 6, Missouri 0

After an idle Saturday which saw the Buffs rise to a No. 9 national ranking in the polls, the Colorado Buffaloes prepared to do battle against Missouri on a Thursday night game.  For the 1992 season, the Big Eight had agreed with ESPN to play a number of conference games on Thursday nights.  The Colorado/Missouri game promised national exposure as the only game to be played that day, and the contests provided extra dollars for the conference coffers.

The Colorado/Missouri game was a natural for television.

The Buffs were returning to Columbia and Faurot Field for the first time since the infamous “Fifth Down” game of 1990.  The media were all over the story, even going so far as to interview J.C. Louderback, the leader of the officiating crew which had allowed Colorado a fifth down in the waning seconds of the 1990 contest, permitting the Buffs to pull out a last second, 33-31 win.  “I don’t think about it, not till it’s brought up”, said Louderback. “Or until the game comes up again.”  At least Louderback, who had been scorned by Tiger fans, maintained his sense of humor.  “I had a chance to join the Colorado booster club,” Louderback recalled with a laugh. “Some fans wanted me to have an honorary membership.”

The 1992 game, played in steady rain, 46-degree temperatures and 10-20 mph winds, was, not surprisingly, controlled by the elements.

The Tigers came into the game with only a 1-3 record, but determined to make a good showing against the now-hated Buffs.  The first-ever night game played at Missouri turned into a battle of field position and turnovers as the Buffs escaped with a 6-0 win.

The Colorado offense, entering the game averaging 36 points a game, committed four turnovers, failed on a fourth-and-one on the Missouri 21-yard line, and missed two field goal attempts.  Kicker Pat Blottiaux was guilty of missing the two field goal tries, but also connected from 52 yards and 32 yards for the only points of the game.

Stopped short of the end zone despite an amazing total of 11 possessions in Missouri territory, the Colorado offense nonetheless put up impressive numbers.  Quarterback Kordell Stewart, returning to the line-up after being benched for ineffective play against Iowa, completed 24-of-45 passes for 335 yards.  Charles E. Johnson collected 11 of Stewart’s aerials for 168 yards, matching the school record for receptions in a game, a record which had been set just weeks earlier by teammate Michael Westbrook against Baylor.

Kicker Pat Blottiaux, the most unlikely of heroes in the Buffs’ arsenal, never dreamed the game would hinge upon his efforts.  “I never expected (the two field goals) to be the only points.  Not at all.”, said the senior kicker. “Our offense was moving the ball, but it just seemed like every time we’d end up making a mistake.”

Head coach Bill McCartney praised his defense.  “You have to celebrate a shutout on the road,” said McCartney of the win over his alma mater. “Our defense played outstanding all day long.”

The win, coupled with losses by No. 4 Tennessee to Arkansas and No. 7 Penn State to Miami, allowed the Buffs to rise to No.7 in the polls.

The victory, however, did not come without cost.

Quarterback Kordell Stewart went the distance against the Tigers for the first game in three weeks, but was projected to miss the next four to six weeks with a broken wrist suffered in the third quarter of the Missouri game.  The injury to Stewart’s non-throwing wrist occurred when Stewart took a hit after completing a pass to Michael Westbrook.  “I thought it was a sprained thumb or something, so I didn’t say anything about it,” said Stewart. “But I couldn’t put any pressure on it (Friday morning after the game), so I went and got x-rays taken, and all of the sudden I have a broken wrist.”

If the Buffs were to continue in their winning ways, then, the task would fall to a freshman quarterback, Koy Detmer.

“Commander Koy” and “Koy Wonder”, as headlines from earlier wins had proclaimed the freshman from Mission, Texas, would now be asked to lead the Buffs into the heart of the conference schedule, including games against both “Big Red” schools, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

 Game Notes … 

– The win over Missouri marked the 23 straight game without a loss in Big Eight play for the Buffs, and the 12th-straight conference win on the road.

– The shutout was the fourth in the series for the Buffs against Missouri, with the most recent previous shutout coming in a 26-0 Colorado victory in 1966. The win was the eighth straight for Colorado over Missouri, the best run by far for the Buffs, who had only won as many as two games in a row in the series (now 21-33-3) twice before.

– Despite the weather and the low scoring, the Buffs did set a new series record for most passing yards, 335, besting the 252 yards passing put up by the Buffs in the 1983 game.

– Pat Blottiaux’s 52-yard field goal with 1:02 left in the first half, were the only points by either team in the first two quarters. Blottiaux’s 52-yarder was the longest of his career, but came after missing from 48 and 32 yards earlier in the half.

– Cornerback Deon Figures had two interceptions against Missouri, the third two-interception game of his career. Figures’ six interceptions on the season, to go with his 38 tackles and team-best eight passes-broken-up, helped the senior become Colorado’s first Thorpe Award winner.

– Freshman wide receiver T.J. Cunningham earned the first start of his career, subbing for sophomore Erik Mitchell, who had started the first four games of the season. In the first start of his career, Cunningham had two catches for 11 yards.

– The 168 yards receiving collected by Charles E. Johnson set a new series record as well, and his new mark erased a familiar name to most Buff fans. The previous record for receiving yards against Missouri was 158 yards, accumulated by Cliff Branch in the 1970 game between the schools.

– The 6-0 loss was the first of five straight setbacks for the Tigers in Big Eight play in 1992. Missouri did bounce back to defeat Kansas State and Kansas to end the season with a 3-8 record (2-5 in the Big Eight conference).

– The game, played on Thursday night, was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 10th – my birthday. Since coming to Boulder in 1980, the Buffs had yet to win on my birthday … The 1992 game – had the Buffs won – would have been the first.

October 8, 1994 – at Missouri                           No. 5 Colorado 38, Missouri 23

The Colorado Buffaloes could have been forgiven for being sluggish against the Missouri Tigers.

After all:

– the game against Missouri represented CU’s third straight road game;

– The game was the Buffs only game against an unranked opponent sandwiched between six games against nationally rated foes; and

– Missouri was 1-3 after having lost to the likes of Tulsa.

Fortunately for Colorado fans, the Buffs were ready to play.  Cruising to a 21-7 first quarter lead, Colorado never allowed the Tigers within two scores the remainder of the game, coasting to a 38-23 win.

Kordell Stewart led the Buffs, completing almost 80 percent of his passes (16-21 for 228 yards and two touchdowns).  Rashaan Salaam continued to impress, posting 166 yards on 28 carries and two scores.

The Buffs jumped out of the gates red hot, paced by Salaam who carried seven times on a nine-play drive to open the game. On a second-and-seven play near midfield, Salaam found a crease and scampered 46 yards before being dragged down at the Tiger one yard line.

The Missouri defense responded by stifling Salaam twice on the next two plays but, on third down, Salaam finally reached the end zone and the Buffs had an early 7-0 lead.

After Missouri squared things at seven on a lengthy drive of their own, the Buffs called upon Salaam again. This time the back touched the ball three times on five plays including a key third-and-five play at the Tiger 42. Salaam took a short screen pass past an over pursuing Missouri defense on the play and turned it into a 41 yard gain before he was once again pulled down at one. Tight end Christian Fauria caught a pass from quarterback Kordell Stewart on the next play and the Buffs once again were up a touchdown.

Just a few plays later, on Missouri’s next drive, junior safety Donnell Leomiti returned an interception 30 yards for a score and a 21-7 lead. A short 19-yard field goal by Neil Voskeritchian midway through the second quarter made it a 24-7 game, a lead which the Buffs took into halftime.

The Buffs put the game out of reach with a second Salaam one yard touchdown run midway through the third, ending any doubt about the final outcome. Overall, the Buffs were outscored overall by the Tigers, 16-14, in the second half, but the game was always well in hand.

After the game, in typical Salaam fashion, all praise for yet another 100 yard effort, the eighth of his career, went to a truly dominant offensive line.

“Those guys are doing such a great job that (Running backs) coach Ben Gregory could have run through those holes,” Salaam said. “That’s how big they are.”

The Buffs were 5-0, 1-0 in Big Eight play, but were already tired.

“We’ve been winning, but I’m tired of traveling and playing on the road,” said senior defensive tackle Darius Holland, “I can’t wait to get home and play in Boulder.”

Junior safety Donnell Leomiti echoed the sentiment:  “We didn’t treat this game any different than the previous three,” said Leomiti, whose 30-yard interception return for a score to give CU a 21-7 lead set the tone for the day.  “We didn’t want to have a let down.  Traveling and playing three weeks in a row can take a lot out of you.  It will be good to play at home again, but we can’t let up there, either.”

Colorado, with its 5-0 record, climbed to No. 4 in the nation.  The Buffs were now even garnering first place votes, receiving four votes as the nation’s No. 1 team.  The Buffs’ high octane offense was receiving national acclaim, and now was heading home to face 22nd-ranked Oklahoma.

“We haven’t played at home since September 17th”, noted McCartney.  “These guys will be glad to play at home again.  I think that will pick us up a lot.”

Truer words could not have been spoken.

Game Notes …

– Linebacker Ted Johnson led the Colorado defense, posting ten tackles (eight solo), two tackles for loss, two third down stops, two passes broken up and a touchdown save.

– The Missouri game marked the first time in four weeks that a Colorado player was not named the Big Eight Offensive Player-of-the-Week. Kordell Stewart had earned the honor against Wisconsin; Michael Westbrook against Michigan; and Rashaan Salaam against Texas.

– Freshman running back Lendon Henry had his first carries as a Buff, with nine carries for 34 yards.

– Sophomore wide receiver James Kidd received his first career start against Missouri. Kidd responded with three catches for 24 yards.

– Freshman cornerback Elton Davis also earned his first career start, subbing for the injured Chris Hudson.

– The 38-23 victory over Missouri represented the tenth straight for Colorado in the series. The significance came in the fact that the win was just the 23rd overall for the Buffs in a series which dated back to 1930. After winning the first two games in the series (1930 and 1931), Missouri would take command of the rivalry, winning 16 of the next 21 games (with two CU victories and three ties). When Colorado defeated Missouri in 1985 to begin the ten-game streak, Missouri owned a six-game winning streak in the series, and a lopsided 33-13-3 lead overall. The 1994 win in Columbia made the series record a more respectable 33-23-3, Missouri.

– The 1994 season was the first for Missouri under new head coach Larry Smith. The former head coach at USC (1987-92), Smith would go on to post a 3-8-1 in his first year at Columbia. Smith had seven seasons coaching the Tigers, going 33-46-1 overall, with bowl appearances after the 1997 and 1998 seasons. After a 3-8 campaign in 2000, Smith was let go by the Tigers.

October 8, 2005 – Boulder           Colorado 41, Texas A&M 20

Quarterback Joel Klatt completed 28-of-36 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns, leading Colorado to a 41-20 rout of Texas A&M.

The Buffs raced to a 21-0 first quarter lead, never looking back, sending the Homecoming crowd of 50,686 into the cool fall Boulder evening with much to be excited about.

While the final score and statistics painted a picture of complete dominance by the Buffs, the issue was still very much in question … in the first minute of play. On the second play from scrimmage, Aggie quarterback Reggie McNeal hit receiver DeQawn Mobley for 60 yards. It appeared that Mobley might score on the play, but instead the ball was fumbled, recovered by Buff safety J.J. Billingsley on the Buff 20-yard line. Colorado then marched 80 yards in five plays, culminated in a 51-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to running back Hugh Charles.

After a three-and-out by the Aggies, the Buffs again struck quickly. A 65-yard drive resulted in a four yard Charles touchdown run to up the Colorado advantage to 14-0. Another short Texas A&M possession resulted in a punt, and another long Buff touchdown drive. This time, the 80-yard drive was completed when Lawrence Vickers scored from three yards out. With 3:57 still left to play in the first quarter, the Buffs were up 21-0.

In the second quarter, Colorado continued to dominate. Two A&M field goals were offset by a one-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to Vickers, to go with a 20-yard field goal by Mason Crosby just before the half to put the Buffs on top, 31-6, at halftime.

Taking the second half kickoff, the Buffs marched 52 yards before settling on a second Crosby field goal, this time from 30 yards, to give the Buffs a 34-6 lead and for the most part answer any questions about an Aggie comeback.

After a Klatt to Quinn Sypniewski touchdown pass covering 36 yards gave the Buffs a 41-6 advantage midway through the third quarter, the remainder of the second half was played mostly with second and third team players. Texas A&M did score two consolation touchdown in the last six minutes of the game to make the final score 41-20, but by that time many of the fans were on their way home, content with a satisfying win over a quality opponent.

“It was obvious that our team was ready to play tonight,” said Gary Barnett. “I’m extremely pleased with the focus they had going into this game – they had it all week in practice.” On the Buffs’ 2-0 start in conference play, both wins coming against Big 12 South opponents, Barnett said, “We’ve known all along that our goal is to win the (Big 12) North, play in the championship game, and win the championship game. We have a lot of games to play before then. This was just the next one.”

On the heels of a 4-1 start, the Buffs entered the national spotlight the next day, entering the polls at No. 24, the first ranking for Colorado in over two years. The Buffs, at 2-0 in conference play, were the only undefeated North team. Kansas State, Nebraska, and Missouri were 1-1, and Iowa State and Kansas were 0-2. The Buffs had surrendered only 20 points in their two conference wins (only six points allowed by the first team defense), and after five games overall, were putting up some impressive defensive numbers. Colorado was ranked 6th nationally in rushing defense (77.6 yards/game), 11th in scoring defense (14.2 points/game), and 19th in total defense (300.0 yards/game).

The defense would have to post equally strong numbers if the Buffs were to compete with their next opponent. The Texas Longhorns were 5-0, ranked 2nd in the nation, and were fresh off of 45-12 pasting of Oklahoma. With the memories of five straight losses to the Sooners erased, Texas was on a 12-game winning streak. The Longhorns came into the Colorado game having been ranked in the top ten nationally for 23 consecutive weeks, and were led by Heisman Trophy candidate Vince Young. The Longhorns’ junior quarterback was 22-2 as a starter at Texas, and had already been named national player of the week once in leading the Longhorns to a 25-22 win over No. 4 Ohio State earlier in the season. Overall, Texas ranked in the top ten in the nation in seven offensive and defensive categories.

Colorado’s euphoria of two dominating conference wins would not last long in the heat of Austin if the Buffs did not come to play. Game time temperatures were forecast to be in the 80’s.

Playing in the heat, on the road, against a top ten team …

Haven’t we heard this before?

Like say, against Miami?

Beyond Cool … 

The email came during the summer, when thoughts of Colorado football were not in the forefront in the minds of most fans.

It came as part of a group email to those registered on the CU website. A Denver police officer had been shot in the line of duty, and there was a local radio station putting on a fund-raiser for the family. Many local businesses had donated items to an online auction. Alongside auctions for Bronco tickets, dinners with local celebrities, and sports memorabilia, was a donation from the University of Colorado: two press passes to a CU football game. Included in the package was premium parking, access to the field before the game, and access to the press conference after the game.

Intrigued? Of course! In my 26th year as a Buff fan, I had never been in the press box, never been on the field before a game, and never at a press conference after a game. Did I want the tickets?

What do you think?

Now, could I get the tickets? The bidding was already into the hundreds of dollars when I logged on. As the deadline approached, it appeared that it was coming down to myself and one other bidder. With my wife Lee rooting me on, we made our final bid with just a few minutes to go before the auction would be closed.

As the final moments clicked off, we kept pecking away at the computer. Refresh, refresh, refresh …. and there it was! Auction closed! Scroll down … last bid … the tickets were mine!

The Texas A&M game became the best choice, because it meant that I could take my longtime best friend Brad Geiger with me to the game. I know that Brad would appreciate all of the trappings as much as I would. We had traveled to locales such as Lincoln, Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Houston together for games. Who better to share the moment? Serendipity came to mind when we found out that Brad’s aunt and uncle from Galveston would be honored as “Donors of the Game”. We would be able to be on the sidelines for their moment of recognition.

Our parking place for the game, courtesy of our passes, was right in front of the stadium. As Brad and I waited in the line of cars trying to find parking at the UMC parking area, we watched with growing impatience as car after car was turned away. When the parking folks saw our pass, though, we were waived right on through.

Ninety minutes before kickoff, and we already knew it would be a special day.

Not knowing how the press area worked, we first headed off to the Fieldhouse. We were directed to an elevator, taking us to the fourth floor. Once there, Brad and I encountered a two-tiered working area, with rows of chairs set out before a spectacular view of Folsom Field. Our fears of not having a place to sit were quickly alleviated when we found each seat had a place setting. A few minutes of searching led us to our seats – next to Sports Illustrated and the representatives from the Champs Sports Bowl!

Confident that we would have a place to return to, Brad and I headed down to the field. Walking the sidelines during warmups, between the two of us we took six rolls of film. We were so excited to be a part of the action, we even took pictures of the band during its pregame presentation.

The next issue was how to take a picture of Ralphie leading the team onto the field. The near sideline was full of people, so Brad and I decided to stake out a position on the far 30-yard line, so as to get an unobstructed view of the CU mascot as she led the Buffs onto the field.

CU takes the field against A&M

With the teams now on the field, we raced up to the press box. We almost missed the fumble on the second play of the game – as it turned out, the last best chance for A&M. We were in our seats, with free sodas in hand, to watch the Buffs score on their first three drives. Could it get any better than this?

The rest of the game was a blur. We got updates on statistics with each quarter, could watch the television coverage of the game on the televisions placed overhead, and could get up for food at any time. I did get the chance to introduce Brad to Dave Plati, and was very pleased when Dave recognized and acknowledged me even though there was a game going on, and he didn’t have time to chat.

At halftime, we went back down to the field, looking for Brad’s aunt and uncle. We wandered around during the halftime festivities, but found no relatives. Deciding to stay on the field for the start of the third quarter, we got shots of Ralphie running back onto the field, and of Gary Barnett being interviewed for radio just before kickoff. Not too shabby!

It was just after the third quarter started when we were approached by a young man in a suit, pointing out Brad’s aunt and uncle waving at us from the endzone. Their presentation was to take place at the first commercial time out. While watching the Buffs drive toward us, Brad’s uncle Fred introduced us to the new athletic director, Mike Bohn. We chatted as Mason Crosby kicked a field goal over our heads to give the Buffs a 34-6 lead. How cool was this night?

We went back up to the press area until the last few minutes of the game, when we trailed other reporters as they gathered for the post-game press conference. After the contest was over, we went into the press area, where we were briefed, along with the press, by Gary Barnett, Joel Klatt, and Joe Klopfenstein.

After lingering for a few more minutes to watch other players being interviewed, we walked back out into the now silent stadium. Clean up crews were already at work, so the lights were still on, illuminating the scoreboard which read, “CU 41, A&M 20”.

What a great game. What a great night!

Not just cool.

Beyond cool.

Game Notes … 

– Against Texas A&M, the Colorado offense put up 559 total yards, the sixth most ever for Colorado in Big 12 play.

– Tight end Quinn Sypniewski’s 70 yards on three catches represented a career high (he would go on to post 85 yards on four catches against Kansas State).

– The win over Texas A&M gave Gary Barnett 31 conference wins, tying him with Dal Ward for 5th on CU’s all-time coaching list.

– In a day dominated by the Colorado offense, a defensive player set a record. Punter John Torp placed two punts inside the Aggie 20-yard line, giving him 53 overall, surpassing the career record of 51 put up by Stan Koleski (1973-76).

– The ever-prepared Dave Plati was able to inform the press box midway through the second quarter that Klatt’s 211 yards passing in the first quarter set single quarter marks for passing and total offense, surpassing Klatt’s already held record of 192 yards, set against North Texas on 9/18/04, (part of a 52-21 rout).

October 8, 2011 – at Stanford          No. 7 Stanford 48, Colorado 7

Leading Heisman trophy candidate Andrew Luck passed for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal ran around, through, over and past the out-manned Colorado Buffaloes, 48-7.

On the day, Stanford rolled to 553 yards of total offense, while Stanford’s top ten defense held the Buffs to 264 yards. Playing without five suspended players on defense and without the Buffs’ only play-maker on offense, the outcome of the game wasn’t much in doubt after only a few minutes of play, as the Cardinal methodically pulled away from the inept Buffs.

As fate would have it, the game turned in Stanford’s favor before Andrew Luck ever had the chance to take the field.

Colorado freshman kicker Will Oliver began the game with a “sky kick”, which traveled only as far as the Stanford 33-yard line. There, the ball was fumbled, and was recovered by Colorado linebacker Jon Major. The Buffs were in business at the Stanford 36-yard line as the sell-out crowd of 50,360 shifted restlessly in their seats.

Two passes from senior quarterback Tyler Hansen to red-shirt freshmen Keenan Canty, sandwiched between two runs by Rodney Stewart, pushed the ball to the Stanford 12 yard line. There, the Buff drive stalled, with two rushes for no gain and an incomplete pass. Kicker Will Oliver was sent it to give Stanford its first deficit of the entire season.

Then, the play of the game … Instead of connecting on a 29-yard field goal, Oliver’s kick was blocked, with Stanford senior linebacker Max Bergen picking up the loose ball and rambling 75 yards for a Cardinal touchdown.

Instead of a 3-0 lead, the Buffs, a 29-point underdog who had to have every break go their way, found themselves down, 7-0, with 11:03 still to play in the first quarter.

Continue reading Game story here

Reflections at Fifty … 

On Monday, I hit a half century.

Fifty years on planet Earth, with about 2/3 of those years wearing the black-and-gold.

Since I became a Colorado fan in 1980 – my freshman year in Boulder – Colorado has posted 16 winning seasons (counting 1986, when the Buffs went 6-5, but lost their bowl game), and 16 losing seasons.

And the Buffs are right back where I started.

In 1980, Colorado went 1-10. Included in that season of infamy was a 56-14 loss to UCLA in the season opener (it was 56-0 at halftime), the record-shattering 82-42 loss to Oklahoma, and the mind-numbing loss to Drake (for the second year in a row).

Sound anything like what the Buff Nation is enduring this fall?

The bad news:  After posting a 1-10 record in 1980, Colorado would not post a winnning season until 1985, my sixth season as a Buff fan.

The good news: This year’s CU freshmen should not have to wait that long.

Continue reading Game Essay here

October 8, 2016 – at USC          USC 21, No. 21 Colorado 17

The Colorado defense forced four USC turnovers, but also allowed 540 yards of total offense as the Trojans defeated the Buffs for the 11th-straight time, 21-17.

In a battle of freshman quarterbacks, USC’s Sam Darnold won the day. Darnold went 25-for-37 for 358 yards and three touchdowns … with all three scoring passes going to tight ends. Steven Montez, meanwhile, was held to 192 yards passing, completing 24-of-39 passes, with one touchdown and one interception.

Bryce Bobo was in line for player of the game, with a career-high ten catches, going for 83 yards and a ten-yard touchdown. Bobo was also in on the Buffs’ other touchdown, with the junior receiver throwing a 67-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Lindsay to help keep Colorado in the game.

“We didn’t play Colorado football,” Mike MacIntyre said. “We didn’t play hard and fast like we’re capable of doing. They (the Trojans) are a good team and had something to do with that, but we didn’t play as well as we could have.”

The loss dropped Colorado to 4-2, 2-1 in Pac-12 play, falling to 2-20-1 all-time in games played in the state of California.

Continue reading Game Story here

Moving (Just a Little) Too Fast … 

It was a heady week for the Buff Nation.

Colorado was 4-1, 2-0 in Pac-12 conference play, and the plaudits were coming in from all quarters. The Buffs were featured on ESPN’s GameDay broadcast, Mike MacIntyre was interviewed on SportsCenter, and national sportswriters fawned over the “feel good” rags-to-riches story that was the 2016 Colorado football team.

The “first time since” stats were everywhere:

— First time with a 2-0 record in conference play since 2007;

— First time ranked in the national polls since 2005;

— Largest margin of victory in a conference game (47-6 over Oregon State) since 1992 (54-6 over Kansas State).

Mike MacIntyre talked about being the 2-0 record be just that – 2-0. There were seven games left to be played in the Pac-12 race, and the Buffs had clinched exactly nothing. It was hard, though, not to start thinking about CU’s first winning record since 2005, and the first bowl appearance since 2007.

Continue reading Game Essay here


One Reply to “CU Games of the Day – October 8th”

  1. The Oklahoma State game was my senior year at CU. Barry Sanders was the best player I had the chance to see play in person. He shredded what was a pretty good defense and his 65-yard TD run that effectively ended the game early in the 2nd half was (unfortunately for us) a thing of beauty. He sucked the life and the noise out of the student section on what was a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

    I worked about 20 hours a week at Abo’s on the Hill. Saturday nights we stayed open until 2:00 am to take advantage of the bar crowd. I worked that night. About 2:10 am, there was a knock on the back door (opened into the alley). It was Sal Aunese. I opened the door for him and he asked if we had any slices left that he could buy. We did not. I broke the bad news to him. He said nothing for a moment and then said something to the effect of his timing having been off all day. I responded by telling him to just shake it off and reminded him that he had a lot of Saturday afternoons ahead of him. He sort of smiled, nodded his head, and walked away.

    Little did I know how then just how wrong I was about how many Saturday afternoons Sal still had ahead of him.

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