CU Games of the Day – September 22nd

September 22ndCU has a 4-1 record on this date over the past 40 years. The only loss came on a CU trip to South Bend to take on the Irish. The wins include the memorable come-from-behind win in Austin in 1990 (the Eric Bieniemy speech) and the Buffs’ road win (and only win of the season) against Washington State in 2012 …

  • 1984: Notre Dame 55, Colorado 14 … The week after tight end Ed Reinhardt collapsed on the field in Eugene, the Buffs traveled to South Bend. Bill McCartney said that the Buffs were emotionally ready for Notre Dame … but the score suggests otherwise … 
  • 1990: No. 20 Colorado 29, No. 22 Texas 22 … With the Buffs’ season on the line, Eric Bieniemy rallies the troops to a victory in Austin. Along with the game story are recollections of Bieniemy’s speech from quarterback Darian Hagan (video) and defensive lineman Alfred Williams … 
  • 2001: Colorado 27, Kansas 16 … Chris Brown and Cortlen Johnson both go for over 100 yards rushing as the Buffs take care of business against the Jayhawks …  
  • 2007: Colorado 42, Miami (Ohio) 0 … Buffs rout the RedHawks from the Mid-American Conference … Essay: “The Last Time …”. The Buffs didn’t set any school records against Miami, but there were plenty of “The last time …” notations …
  • 2012: Colorado 35, Washington State 34 Buffs score in the final minute to pull off an unlikely upset of Washington State (and only victory of the season) … Essay: “Never Give In!” – My first trip to Pullman proves memorable as my willingness to go on the road to cheer for the hapless Buffs is rewarded … 

Check out the stories for all five games below …

September 22, 1984 – at Notre Dame           Notre Dame 55, Colorado 14

Colorado traveled to the hallowed grounds of South Bend, Indiana, for their third game of the 1984 season carrying heavy hearts. Thoughts of Ed Reinhardt had to be on the minds of the Buffs as they played Notre Dame beneath “Touchdown Jesus” for the first – and only – time in school history.

Notre Dame, as had been the case in 1983, came into the matchup against the Buffs unranked. Embattled Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust had the Irish off to a 1-1 start, but this was hardly cause for celebration in South Bend. Notre Dame had been ranked seventh in the nation in the 1984 preseason Associated Press poll, but had promptly dropped out of the poll after falling 23-21 to Purdue in the season opener. The Irish did not look much better the following week against Michigan State, falling behind 17-3 in the first half before rallying to win, 24-20. Though the 1984 Colorado/Notre Dame game would be played at South Bend, there seemed some hope for the struggling Buffs to make a game of it against a less than dominant Fighting Irish squad.

For Colorado, though, 1984 was not like 1983, when the Buffs were riding high coming into the Notre Dame contest. The previous season, the Buffs were 2-1 and brimming with optimism, but were humbled by Notre Dame at home, 27-3. The Buffs in 1984 were 0-2, and had little to be optimistic about.

The scene was set for disaster, and the Buffs did not disappoint, playing their worst game since the Nebraska rout the year before.

By the end of the first quarter, it was 21-0. By halftime, it was 38-0, Notre Dame.

Before the Buffs scored late in the third quarter, the score was up 52-0. The 55-14 final could have been much worse. The Irish played three quarterbacks and even tried out three kickers. Fourth stringers were on the field at the end. The Notre Dame crowd cheered and cheered – a rare occurrence during the Gerry Faust era.

In the “for what its worth” category, on Colorado’s third possession, quarterback Steve Vogel completed an 18-yard pass to Loy Alexander. With the completion, Vogel passed Gale Weidener for the top spot on the all-time list in career passing yards at Colorado. Vogel now had 3,150 yards, surpassing the only other 3,000+ yard career for the Buffs, put up by Weidener (1959-61). It was only fitting for the day that the 18-yard completion came on third down … and still did not pick up enough yardage for a first down.

The record for Vogel came before the quarterback made an early exit. Vogel hurt his neck after completing only three-of-seven passes for 44 yards. Vogel’s injury just added him to the Colorado list of walking wounded. Tight end Jon Embree went out in the game’s first series of the game with a deep thigh bruise.

The injury situation for the 0-3 Buffs was now past critical.

Coming into the Notre Dame game, Colorado was already forced to start six players who had not started against Michigan State just two weeks earlier. A preseason all-conference pick at linebacker, Barry Remington, had played little since the opener. Fellow linebacker Dan McMillen underwent orthoscopic surgery the week before the Notre Dame game and was out indefinitely. The secondary was so devastated that four new starters were contemplated. The situation was dire for the paper-thin depth of the Buffs.

For his part, Colorado head coach Bill McCartney refused to use the injuries, or Ed Reinhardt, as an excuse for the blowout. “I just want to set the record straight”, McCartney told reporters after the game. “We didn’t come here and hang our heads on the basis of what happened last week. We were emotionally ready.”

The scoreboard suggested otherwise.

 September 22, 1990 – at Texas          No. 20 Colorado 29, No. 22 Texas 22

Colorado returned to the win column with a hard-fought 29-22 victory over Texas. Eric Bieniemy scored three touchdowns on the day, including the go-ahead touchdown with 5:57 to play. For the game, Bieniemy rushed for 99 yards, while his backfield mate, fullback George Hemingway, posted 76 yards rushing on only seven carries.

The game was one of streaks, with neither of the nationally ranked teams able to take complete control.

Two Darian Hagan fumbles in the first quarter led to two Texas scores. The first led to a six-yard touchdown pass from Peter Gardere to Kerry Cash. Then, after Hagan connected with fullback George Hemingway on a 38-yard touchdown to tie the game, a second Hagan fumble led to a 47-yard field goal by Michael Pollak just before the end of the first quarter.

10-7, Texas.

The Buffs took their first lead of the game midway through the second quarter with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by an Eric Bieniemy two-yard touchdown run. A second Pollak field goal just before half, this time from 25 yards out, cut the Buffs’ lead to 14-13 at the break.

The third quarter was all Texas. The Longhorns kept possession for 12:17 of the quarter, allowing the Buffs only five offensive plays. Still, Texas could only post one score, a two-yard run by Phil Brown. The score made it 19-14, with the score remaining there a few moments later when a two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

The Buffs were down only one score, but it may as well have been three scores, considering the momentum of the game.

The Colorado offense was showing no signs of life. From the end of the second quarter through the start of the fourth, Texas ran 27 plays. During that same time, the Buffs ran only five. A 22-yard field goal by Texas early in the fourth quarter upped the lead to 22-14, and a 1-2-1 record for the Buffs appeared to be imminent.

Their season now on the line, however, the Buffs quickly responded.

A four-minute drive covering 60 yards in nine plays ended with Bieniemy scoring from four yards out with still over ten minutes to play. A Hagan pass to tie the score failed, however, and the Buffs were still down by two, 22-20.

Energized, the Colorado defense forced a punt on the Longhorns’ next possession. A 43-yard punt return by Dave McCloughan gave the Buffs’ momentum. “You always want to make big plays,” said McCloughan. “They kicked it to the right side of the field, and I got behind the wall. It turned into a big play”. The Buffs took the lead for good on Bieniemy’s third touchdown of the afternoon, a two-yard run with 5:47 to play.

27-22, Colorado.

The game still in doubt, the Colorado defense did not allow Texas past its own 40-yard line on the Longhorns’ final two possessions. The first ended when defensive lineman Garry Howe tackled Gardere for a loss on fourth down. After a Tom Rouen punt rolled dead at the Texas three yard line, as senior linebacker Alfred Williams sacked Texas quarterback Peter Gardere for a safety with 29 seconds to play.

Colorado 29, Texas 22.

Here is a YouTube video from the Daily Camera (2015 – looking back on the 25th anniversary). Darian Hagan remembers the Texas game …


Alfred Williams recalls Bieniemy rallying the troops

When, in 2010, linebacker Alfred Williams was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, one of the games which stood out in his mind was the 1990 Texas game. Williams told about the pivotal fourth quarter:

“I remember that fourth quarter of the Texas game my senior year when we took over,” Williams said.  “It had been so long since we were in that kind in situation, trailing on the road in the fourth quarter (22-14) in a hostile environment, I am pretty sure for the first time since my sophomore year.

“EB (Eric Bieniemy) led the offense out on the field between the third and fourth quarter to fire up the defense, what many say was the turning point of the season.  It worked, and we held them to a field goal (to keep the score manageable, at 22-14), the offense came back and I was fortunate to end the game with a sack in the end zone for a safety to seal the deal.  But very rarely did we correspond so-to-speak during the game because EB was offense and I was defense and we were seldom on the sidelines at the same time.”

The Buffs’ win over Texas knocked the Longhorns out of the poll, but did not move the Buffs up, as Colorado remained ranked No. 20. The 2-1-1 Buffs could now head home, but there was no time to rest. Washington, another 1989 Colorado victim, was coming to Boulder with a No. 12 national ranking. The 3-0 Huskies were fresh from a 31-0 pasting of rival USC, and were ready to show they were national title contenders themselves.

The road to national attention and respect was a difficult one, and Colorado could not afford any let up. A loss to Washington from the Pac-10 would not affect Buff hopes for returning to the Orange Bowl as champions of the Big Eight, but a 2-2-1 record would undoubtedly push the Buffs off of the national radar.

It was now time for the Colorado defense to make a stand.

September 22, 2001 – Boulder             Colorado 27, Kansas 16

“The first thing you have to say,” said a relieved Gary Barnett after his Buffs had finally put away the Kansas Jayhawks, 27-16, before 47,495 on a beautiful fall afternoon in Boulder, “is that it looked like we took two weeks off.”

For much of the game, the 2001 Buffs looked like their much-maligned 2000 counterparts.  Dropped passes, mental errors, and penalties – especially the penalties – kept Kansas in the game until very late in the second half.

The game started out well enough for the Buffs.

After spotting Kansas an opening field goal, Colorado marched smartly down the field, covering 80 yards in eight plays, completing the scoring drive when Chris Brown scored from seven yards out to give Colorado a 7-3 lead.  The Buffs’ second drive was equally impressive before it stalled inside the Kansas ten yard line.  Jeremy Flores connected on a 22-yard field goal to put the Buffs up 10-3.

With two drives resulting in two scores, it seemed like the Buffs would be able to score at will, and another 41-14 or 51-15 score appeared imminent.

Instead, for the next two quarters, the Buffs became their own worst enemy.

The Jayhawks’ only touchdown drive of the day came in second quarter, when two Buff penalties kept the drive alive.  A roughing-the-kicker penalty on a fourth-down punt attempt and a personal foul penalty after an incomplete pass attempt on 3rd-and-15 gave Kansas 30 of their 73 yards.  A 38-yard touchdown pass from Mario Kinsey to Roger Ross tied the score at 10-10.

Adding insult to injury, Kansas kicker Johnny Beck connected on a Folsom Field record-setting 59-yard field goal as time expired to give the Jayhawks a 13-10 halftime lead.

A third quarter Colorado field goal tied the game at 13-all, but ten seconds into the fourth quarter, KU’s Beck connected again, this time from 46 yards out, to give Kansas a 16-13 advantage.

This final scoring effort by the Jayhawks seemingly aroused the inconsistent Colorado offense, which finally put the Buffs back in the lead, 20-16, on a 17-yard pass from Craig Ochs to Daniel Graham on the Buffs’ next possession.

Next, after the Colorado defense held and forced a short punt, the Buffs’ offense needed only one play to put the game out of reach. Chris Brown broke through the middle of the Jayhawk line and sprinted 40 yards for a 27-16 lead which held up the rest of the game.

Brown finished the day with 140 yards on 22 carries, with Cortlen Johnson contributing 113 yards on only eight carries.  On the day, Colorado racked up 338 yards rushing and 524 yards of total offense.  Impressive numbers, but the scoreboard did not reflect the domination of the Buffs on the field.

“We had a great effort”, said Barnett of his Buffs, now 3-1, 1-0 in Big 12 play.  “I thought we really played hard.  We just can’t play that sloppily in two weeks.”

The Buffs now had a bye week before taking its first real road trip of the season to face Kansas State.  The Wildcats had started off 2-0, including a road win against USC, but fell, 38-37, to defending national champion Oklahoma in Norman during CU’s bye week.  The loss dropped KSU from 11th to 12th in the polls.  Still, the Wildcats had reason for optimism.  They had fallen behind the undefeated and third-ranked Sooners 35-14 before rallying and coming up just short.

And there was this … Colorado had lost four consecutive games to Kansas State in falling to third in the Big 12 North in the minds of most analysts.

If the Buffs were to make a statement that they were back in the hunt for a Big 12 Championship, that road would have to travel first through Manhattan, Kansas.

September 22, 2007 – Boulder           Colorado 42, Miami (Ohio) 0

Freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins passed for two touchdowns and rushed for his first career score, leading Colorado to a 42-0 rout of Miami (Ohio).

Colorado amassed 634 yards of total offense, the most for the Buffs since 1999, while the defense limited the RedHawks to 139 yards in posting CU’s first shutout since a 34-0 win over Oklahoma State in 2005.

The Buffs started methodically. After the teams exchanged punts to open the game, the Colorado offense put together a 16-play, 72-yard touchdown drive which ate up most of the first quarter. Still, it took a one-yard pass from Hawkins to tight end Tyson DeVree on fourth-and-goal from the Miami one yard line to put the Buffs up 7-0. The Buffs’ next drive, which carried over into the second quarter, consumed 80 yards in ten plays. This time, running back Demetrius Sumler did the honors from a yard out to raise the lead to 14-0.

Two more scores in the second quarter put the game out of reach. The Buffs’ shortest drive of the game (three plays, 54 yards) was highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Hawkins to receiver Kendrick Celestine. The freshman’s first career catch set up the Buffs at the RedHawk two yard line. Two plays later, Hawkins did the honors from a yard out. Just before halftime, Hawkins connected with Patrick Devenny, who made his first career catch a memorable one. The sophomore tight end’s three yard touchdown put the Buffs up 28-0 with 15 seconds left before the break.

The second half was more of the same, as the Buffs continued to pile up superlative statistics. Senior tailback Hugh Charles, having seen limited playing time since being injured early in the opener against Colorado State, scored on a 17-yard run late in the third quarter. For the day, Charles ran for 123 yards on 17 carries to lead the Buffs’ 359-yard rushing attack. On the Buffs’ next possession, freshman tailback Brian Lockridge scored his first touchdown at CU, scoring from 43 yards out to close out the scoring.

Even the 42-0 final score was not indicative of the total dominance by the Buffs. Colorado turned the ball over three times, including a fumble by wide receiver Patrick Williams at the RedHawk four yard line. Another score was called back by penalty, and the Buffs ended the game taking a knee at the Miami five yard line. A score in the 50’s or 60’s, common for fellow Big 12 members against lesser opponents, was not out of the question.

Dan Hawkins was understandably pleased over the win. “I totally believed we were going to win. We had a few issues and stubbed our toe. I expected to win.”

Overall, the Buffs put together their best effort in the Hawkins’ era. While no team records were set, there were many “best since … ” records posted, including the Buffs’ first shutout in almost two seasons. “Anytime you make them finish with a zero on the board I think it makes your defense feel complete,” said Hawkins.

Defensive tackle George Hypolite echoed his coach: “All throughout the preseason we have been talking about putting together four quarters. Against CSU, we felt like we played a good third and fourth quarter, and against Arizona State we played a good first two quarters. Last week we played a great game except for a few plays. We have been talking about doing our job for four quarters, and we felt like we did that today.”

Still, even when enjoying only just the fourth win in 16 tries under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs could not help but look beyond Miami at the next game on the schedule – Oklahoma. The fourth ranked Sooners were scoring at the rate of 61.5 points per game. The post game quotes were riddled with Oklahoma references. Quarterback Cody Hawkins: “We still don’t have it down to perfection, and if you want to beat a team like Oklahoma, you have to minimize your mistakes”. Running back Hugh Charles: “Their ranking speaks for itself. They run the ball well, throw the ball well, and their defense is fast”. Safety Ryan Walters: “Oklahoma is going to be a tough game, but if we go out and execute and do our jobs nothing is impossible”.

Not impossible, but certainly difficult. All in all, the 2-2 non-conference record was about where most expected the Buffs to be heading into conference play. The Miami game was one of the few Buff fans circled in August as one which CU was expected to win. The Buffs had come through in spectacular fashion, playing the most complete game of the Hawkins’ era.

How that would translate against one of the elite teams in the country remained to be seen.

“The Last time …. ”

While there were no new school records set in the rout of Miami, there were a number of significant milestones which had not been reached in Boulder in sometime. In addition to recording the first shutout of an opponent in two seasons, the Buffs and their fans, for at least a day or two before having to turn their attentions to the Oklahoma game, could enjoy some of the following numbers:

– 30 first downs in a game (33) – The Last time: 34 v. New Mexico State, 9/10/05

– Held under 10 first downs, opponent (6) – The Last time: 7 by New Mexico State, 9/10/05

– 600 yards of total offense (634) – The Last time: 767 (school record) v. San Jose State, 9/11/99

– Held under 200 yards of total offense, opponent (139) – The Last time: 181 by New Mexico State, 9/10/05

– 300 yards rushing, game (359) – The Last time: 331 v. Iowa State, 11/16/02

– Held under 100 yards passing, game, opponent (95) – The Last time: 71, by Texas, 10/30/04

– Held under three yards per play, game, opponent (2.8) – The Last time: 2.8, by Kansas State, 10/6/01

– Forty minute time of possession (40:24) – The Last time: 40:14 v. New Mexico State, 9/10/05

In addition, the Buffs came close to some individual records as well. Hugh Charles put up 123 yards. He was followed closely by Demetrius Sumler, who had 91 yards and a score, and Brian Lockridge, who put up 90 yards and a touchdown. Had either Sumler or Lockridge had ten more yards rushing, the Miami game would have represented the first game that two Buffs had over 100 yards rushing in the same game since Chris Brown and Bobby Purify each had over 100 yards against Iowa State in 2002. If both Sumler and Lockridge had a few more carries on the afternoon, the Buffs would have had their first game with three 100 yard rushing efforts since three Buffs (including Jon Keyworth) turned the trick against Air Force in 1970 (lest you think the Falcons were overmatched – the 49-19 rout by CU was against an Air Force team ranked 10th in the country at the time).

Yes, there is likely a dose of reality awaiting Colorado and their fans next weekend against Oklahoma. Still, when CU is 2-2 and playing about as well as any other team in the Big 12 North, there is reason for enjoying this complete effort by the Buffs.

September 22, 2012 – at Washington State          Colorado 35, Washington State 34

Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb scored on a four-yard run with nine seconds to play, the last of three Colorado touchdowns in the final seven minutes, to stun Washington State 35-34 on Saturday in the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams.

Webb threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more for Colorado, which had been outscored by an average of 40-19 coming into the game, and entered the game in Pullman as twenty-point underdogs.

The start of the game was eerily similar to what had befallen the Buffs in a 69-14 defeat at Fresno State the week before. Washington State took the opening kickoff and barely broke a sweat in taking the ball down the field for a score. It took the Cougars only six plays to cover 75 yards, with quarterback Connor Halliday hitting Gabe Marks for a 32-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game.

Then, something different happened … Colorado did not immediately fold.

The Colorado offense, anemic against Fresno State, responded in kind against Washington State. A 24-yard run by freshman running back Christian Powell set up the Buffs in Cougar territory. Two passes from quarterback Jordan Webb to wide receiver Nelson Spruce, the first for 13 yards, the second for 16 yards and a touchdown, gave the Buff Nation hope.

Colorado 7, Washington State 7, midway through the first quarter. Not great, but certainly better than the 21-0 deficit Colorado had faced midway through the first quarter the week before.

Washington State had little difficulty taking the ball back into Buff territory on its next drive, but a sack of Halliday by defensive lineman Will Pericak put the Cougars in a third-and-23, with the next Halliday offering intercepted by Jered Bell. The sophomore defensive back returned the first interception of his career 37 yards to the Colorado 40, and the Buffs were in business.

The ensuing drive by the Colorado offense took time off the first quarter clock, but did not produce results. Stalled at the Washington State 13 yard line, junior field goal kicker Will Oliver was called upon to give Colorado its first lead since the final seconds of the Sacramento State game. Oliver’s kick, though, was wide left, and the score remained tied.

Washington State was not to be denied in its next possession, not even so much as facing a third down in covering 80 yards in six plays. Connor Halliday hit Marquess Wilson for a 23-yard score and a 14-7 Washington State lead, with the only good news for Colorado fans coming by way of the fact that the drive went into the second quarter, a minor victory after falling behind Fresno State 35-0 in the first quarter seven days earlier.

Continue reading game story here

“Never Give In!” … 

I spent much of the week leading up to the Washington State reminiscing about the 1980 season.

It wasn’t by choice that I was thinking back to my freshman year in Boulder. Rather, the Buffs actions on the field had taken me, involuntarily, back to one of the darkest periods in CU history.

The 69-14 beat down by Fresno State broke some records which had lasted over three decades. In the 1980 opener – my first game as a black-and-gold clad Buff fan – Colorado fell behind UCLA 56-0 … at halftime. That the Bruins failed to score the remainder of the game was on little consolation, as the tone had been set for the 1-10 season.

In the 1980 home opener, CU lost to Indiana (coached by – Heaven help us – Lee Corso), 49-7 … and then things got even worse. A scathing Sports Illustrated article about Chuck Fairbanks’ excesses in the wake of Colorado shutting down “minor sports” was followed up by another record-setting loss, this time in the epic 82-42 loss to Oklahoma. Then the Buffs lost to Drake for the second year in a row!

The humbling loss to Fresno State last week was a jolt back to the past. Not only were the Buffs beaten by the Bulldogs, and beaten badly, but the loss seemed to remove all hope for future success anytime in the foreseeable future.

Continue reading game essay here


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