CU Games of the Day – September 28th

September 28th … CU has an 3-2 record on this date over the past 40 years, with some very notable victories … 1985: With a 14-13 road win over Arizona, the Buffs (for the first time in forever), “received votes” in the AP poll … 1991: Stanford exposes No. 17 CU as a non-title contender … 1996: Buffs win first-ever game as a Big 12 member, taking out A&M on the road … 2013: Buffs make Sean Mannion look like Marcus Mariota in rout by the Beavers … 2018: A CU 38-16 over Chip Kelly’s Bruins the most satisfying of Mike MacIntyre’s final season (with highlight video included) …

  • 1985: Colorado 14, Arizona 13 … Buffs finish non-conference play with a 3-1 record after a rare road win … Essay: “Back Among the ‘Others’ ” (It was a big deal in 1985, and would be a big deal in 2020 or 2021) … 
  • 1991: Stanford 28, No. 17 Colorado 21 … “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell scored three touchdowns as the Cardinal avenges a close loss to CU in Boulder in 1990 … Essay: “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” …
  • 1996: No. 12 Colorado 24, Texas A&M 10 … Led by quarterback Koy Detmer, the Buffs first game as a member of the Big 12 is a successful road win in College Station … 
  • 2013: Oregon State 44, Colorado 17 … Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion threw for six touchdowns in a rout of the Buffs … Essay: “Three Years, Not Three Games” … 
  • 2018: Colorado 38, UCLA 16 … Steven Montez went 22-of-26 for 237 yards and a touchdown, with 11 carries for 81 yards and two more scores to lead the Buffs in a big win over Chip Kelly and the Bruins (with highlight video) … Essay: “Win Representative of the ‘New Normal’ for CU football program?” (sorry to say, the answer proved to be “no”) … 

Check out the stories for all five games below …

September 28, 1985 – at Arizona           Colorado 14, Arizona 13

A major test for the rejuvenated Buffs would come against Arizona. The game against the Wildcats would be the first road game of the year, and the first night game for Colorado since 1980 (v. LSU).

After starting the season 2-1 in 1983, the Buffs succumbed to Notre Dame, and then slid into a five game losing streak. If the 1985 Colorado squad, also possessing a 2-1 record, was to make a statement that black was in fact back, what better way to do so than to post a road victory?

As it was, the Buffs were a paltry 2-11-1 on the road in their first three-plus seasons under Bill McCartney.

To almost everyone’s amazement, Colorado stepped up, pulling out a 14-13 win under the lights in Tucson. As in the Oregon game, the defense ultimately carried the day. Colorado held the Wildcats to just 228 yards of total offense, the best Buff effort in two years. Through the first month of the season, the Buffs’ defense was now ranked 18th in the nation in both rushing and total defense. This rated as quite an improvement for a team which had allowed, on average, over 400 yards and 30 points per game to the opposition over McCartney’s first three years.

On offense, the running game pounded out 301 yards on 61 attempts. Halfback Ron Brown contributed his second 100-yard effort of the young season, carrying for 100 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries. The passing game didn’t contribute, though, as quarterback Mark Hatcher completed more passes to Arizona players than to his teammates. Hatcher’s line: 1-4 for 27 yards, with two interceptions.

After spotting Arizona a 3-0 first quarter lead, Colorado took a 7-3 halftime lead on a seven-yard run by Ron Brown. The third quarter was all Wildcats, as Arizona scored ten points to take a 13-10 lead into the final quarter. The game-winning drive, capped by a two-yard run by Mark Hatcher, included a 40-yard run by Brown.

The Buffs had now completed the non-conference slate with a winning record, 3-1, for the first time since Bill Mallory’s last team had raced to a 4-0 start in 1978. Could the momentum continue into Big Eight play?

Back Among the “Others”

The last time the University of Colorado football team had been ranked in either the coaches’ (UPI) or Associated Press poll was in 1978. The Buffs’ upset of a tough Arizona squad, on the road, made the coaches take notice. In the Rocky Mountain News the week after the Arizona game, the small, one column headline read: “Buffs are back, among ‘others’ “.

Indeed, while not breaking into the top 20, Colorado did in fact receive votes as being one of the top 20 teams in the nation (polls did not expand to 25 teams until 1989).

The September 30, 1985 UPI poll was insignificant to much of the nation. Iowa was ranked No. 1, with Oklahoma, having played only one game to that point, being ranked second. For teams competing for the national championship, the poll was but a means to a larger end. September polls were for posturing. The January 2nd poll was the only one which would count.

In Boulder, however, it was a different story.

I still have the newspaper clipping from that day, the day Colorado nudged its way back towards national relevance.

For Colorado to be anywhere close to being ranked was a minor miracle. It’s hard to explain the value of such a non-event to the non-fan, so I will turn to Sports Illustrated writer (and Colorado alumnus) Rick Reilly, who penned the the column: “No Contest: A Few Dozen Reasons Why College Football is Better Than the Pro Kind” for the 1996 SI College Football Preview Magazine.

In the article, Reilly points to many differences between the college and pro game, including gems like “College football has Stewart-to-Westbrook. Pro football has Anaheim-to-St. Louis”, and “College football has Athens, Ga.; Eugene, Ore.; and Madison, Wis. Pro football has not one but two (2) teams in East Rutherford, N.J.”.

My favorite: “College football will get you so delirious, your wear your school’s underwear and throw an Also Receiving Votes Party. Pro football will have you wondering if you can leave early in the fourth quarter in order to get home for the beginning of She’s the Sheriff.”

When I read that line, some 11 years after I clipped the Rocky Mountain News article, I laughed.

It’s true.

College football loyalty will make you do strange things.

September 28, 1991 – at Stanford           Stanford 28, No. 17 Colorado 21

“Touchdown” Tommy Vardell lived up to his nickname, scoring three touchdowns in leading Stanford to a 28-21 upset of 17th-ranked Colorado. Vardell rushed for 114 yards, also contributing 97 yards receiving, in posting almost as many total yards as the entire Buff offense. On the day, Stanford out-gained Colorado, 485-270, holding the Buffs to their lowest offensive output in two years.

Stanford took a 7-0 lead on the game’s first drive on a Vardell one-yard run. In the second quarter, however, the Buffs responded with 14 points of their own. Red-shirt freshman cornerback Chris Hudson returned an interception 40 yards for one score, with Darian Hagan connecting with red-shirt freshman wide receiver Michael Westbrook from 20 yards out to give Colorado a 14-7 halftime lead.

The remainder of the game was left to the Stanford offense, with Vardell scoring twice in the fourth quarter.

Vardell’s third score on the day gave Stanford a 28-14 lead with only 6:37 to play. A ten-yard touchdown run by Lamont Warren pulled the Buffs to within seven a few minutes later, but the Buffs would not see the ball the remainder of the afternoon.

Colorado was now 2-2 on the season, and defense of its national title was over … before conference play even began.

The next poll saw Colorado clinging to the final poll spot, at No. 25. The Big Eight championship was still a possibility, and a three-peat as conference champions was plenty of incentive.

Still, Buff fans had to be realistic. If Colorado could be handled by a Stanford squad which had come into the contest 0-2, how could the Buffs be expected to handle the likes of Oklahoma and Nebraska?

The Buffs had two weeks to think about that, having a bye week before facing Missouri.

It would be a long two weeks.

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

The losses to Baylor and Stanford were true shockers.

Both were decent teams (Stanford would recover from its 0-2 start to finish 8-4 on the season. Baylor, after a 5-0 start, would also finish 8-4). But, for the first time since 1988, the college football world would go about discussing the race for the national title without mentioning the Buffs. Yes, there was the chance of a three-peat as Big Eight champions, but that had to be seen as a long-shot. A third place finish behind Oklahoma and Nebraska, and relegation to a minor bowl, had to be seen as realistic.

Jimmy Buffet gave us the song about changes in latitudes and changes in attitudes. The 1991 Colorado Buffaloes had to adjust their attitudes during the bye week. The focus now had to be on the conference title. Not that a three-peat had not been a primary goal earlier, although that would be sweet in its own right.

No, the focus on the Big Eight came about because that was all that was left.

Before Colorado could worry about a trip to Norman to face the 5th-ranked Sooners, there was the matter of the Homecoming contest against Missouri. The Tigers were 2-1-1 in non-conference play, and had aspirations of their own heading into conference play.

September 28, 1996 ‑ at Texas A&M         No. 12 Colorado 24, Texas A&M 10

In the 1996 pre‑season Associated Press poll, the Aggies of Texas A&M were ranked 13th, two spots higher than A&M had been ranked at the close of the 1995 campaign.

The pre‑season ranking, though, proved to be the high‑water mark for the 1996 Aggies.  An opening game loss to BYU, 41‑37 in the Pigskin Classic, was followed by a stunning defeat at the hands of the Ragin’ Cajuns of Southwestern Louisiana, 29‑22.  A win over North Texas to raise the Aggies’ record to 1‑2 did little to appease the A&M faithful heading into the game against Colorado.

Colorado did its best early on to quiet the standing‑room‑only crowd of 70,339.

Buff safety Ryan Sutter (yes, that Ryan Sutter – of future “The Bachelor” fame) forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, and the Buffs wasted little time taking advantage of the turnover.  On the first play from scrimmage, senior wide receiver Rae Carruth took a handoff from Koy Detmer on a reverse.  Twenty eight yards later, Colorado had a 7‑0 lead.  The game was only thirteen seconds old (setting a new school record for the quickest score from scrimmage to open a game), and the Buffs were ahead to stay.

Early in the second quarter, running back Herchell Troutman took a Detmer screen pass 50 yards for a score and a 14‑0 Buff advantage.

After Texas A&M scored midway through the second quarter to pull to within 14-7, the Colorado offense responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive culminated in a seven yard touchdown pass from Detmer to Darrin Chiaverini.

Down 21-7 in the third quarter, Texas A&M went for a fourth-and-one at the CU three yard line. The Buff defense, which allowed only one touchdown on the day, forced Aggie quarterback Kyle Bryant into an incompletion. Texas A&M would not threaten again until the Buffs had a 24-7 lead and less than four minutes remained, settling for a 30-yard field goal to close out the scoring.

Colorado had to overcome school‑record performances by Aggie quarterback Branndon Stewart (34‑64, 385 yards) and receiver Albert Connell (18 receptions, 208 yards) to win its eighth straight game on the road, and hand A&M a rare home loss (63‑4‑1 at Kyle field since 1985).  Koy Detmer completed 16 of his 27 passes for 246 yards and two scores, while the Buff defense had seven sacks and recovered four fumbles.

The Buffs had won their first‑ever Big 12 Conference game, but it was an “ugly” win (11 more penalties).  For his part, Buff quarterback Koy Detmer was not concerned.  “We said before the game we’re not going to worry about how pretty it was”, said the senior Buff quarterback, “we were just going to be excited about winning.”  Offensive guard Kyle Smith agreed:  “Twenty years from now, people won’t look back on all the penalties or anything.  They’ll look back at W’s and L’s, and we got the W.”

The Buffs had made it through September with three W’s and one L.  After the A&M game, Colorado had a second bye week.  Many Buff fans took the opportunity of the off week to watch Nebraska, defending national champion, previously unbeaten and seemingly invincible, fall to Arizona State, 19‑0.

The race for the first Big 12 title, not to mention the national championship, was back on.

September 28, 2013 – at Oregon State          Oregon State 44, Colorado 17

Sean Mannion passed for 414 yards and a school-record six touchdowns and Oregon State won its fourth consecutive game Saturday with a 44-17 victory over Colorado.

Brandin Cooks caught nine passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns for the Beavers (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12), and had five carries for 47 yards.

Mannion battled gusty wind conditions to complete 27 of 52 passes.

The Buffaloes’ offense, which hadn’t seen action for three weeks due to the postponement of the Fresno State game, was out of sync for most of the game. Quarterback Connor Wood connected on just 14 of 34 passes for 146 yards. Paul Richardson, who came into game as the country’s leading receiver averaging 208.5 yards per game, was held to five receptions for 70 yards.

On the first play from scrimmage on a rainy afternoon in Corvallis, the Buffs’ star wide receiver, Paul Richardson, carried the ball for seven yards on a sweep. Unbeknownst to the Buff faithful, that was the last meaningful contribution from the Buffs’ best player with the game still in question.

After a first down, the Buffs drive stalled after a holding call. A 16-yard punt by Darragh O’Neill set the Beavers up at their 48-yard line. A 20-yard pass from Mannion to Cooks was followed by a 17-yard completion to Richard Mullaney. Suddenly, after only two plays, Oregon State was at the Colorado 15-yard line. There, however, the Buff defense stiffened, and the Beavers had to settle for a 36-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 10:03 to play in the first quarter.

A three-and-out had the 44,279 at Reser stadium smelling a rout. On second-and-ten at their 36-yard line, however, Sean Mannion threw only his second interception of the season. Cornerback Greg Henderson caught a tipped pass and took the interception down to the OSU 17-yard line. A Connor Wood keeper set the Buffs up with a first-and-goal at the four, but the Buffs could not convert, tying the score with a Will Oliver 19-yard field goal.

The teams traded punts before Mannion connected with Cooks for a 52-yard gain in the CU red zone. A three yard touchdown pass from Mannion to Caleb Smith gave the Beavers a lead they would never relinquish.

Continue reading story here

Three Years, Not Three Games … 

September, 2013, had been a heady month for the University of Colorado football program.

The real world issues concerning the floods in Boulder and surrounding areas notwithstanding, the Buffs had been on a high since September 1st. Two come-from-behind wins gave Colorado, 1-11 in 2012, a 2-0 record which stood for three weeks.

The victories over Colorado State and Central Arkansas were solid statements about the progress made by the program under Mike MacIntyre and his staff since their hire last winter. The Buffs ran out to early leads in both games, only to give them up in the fourth quarter. Instead of folding, however, these Buffs rallied, scoring defensive touchdowns (defensive!), then taking care of business down the stretch to preserve victories.

Last season, against Colorado State and Sacramento State, the Buffs had the opportunity to win both of those games. CU took leads in both games, only to surrender them in the second half. There were no rallies, no taking care of business down the stretch to earn victories.

Two losses.

The Buffs have come a long way.

Continue reading Game Essay here

September 28, 2018 – Boulder           Colorado 38, UCLA 16

On a colder than expected Friday evening (46-degrees at kickoff), a Blackout Folsom field crowd of 46,814 was on hand to watch Colorado raise its record to 4-0 record for the first time since 1998, using a big second half to pull away from UCLA, 38-16.

Quarterback Steven Montez went 22-of-26 for 237 yards and a touchdown, with 11 carries for 81 yards and two more scores to lead the Buffs. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault had 12 receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown, also carrying the ball five time for 18 yards and another score. The rushing attack was led by Travon McMillian, who had 21 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown.

In all, Colorado out-gained UCLA, 477 yards to 289, with the Buffs dominating the second half. In the first half, the scoreboard and the stats sheet were about even, with CU holding a slight edge in total yards – 196-191 – and an even slimmer margin on the scoreboard, at 14-13. In the second half, however, the Buffs pulled away, scoring the final 24 points of the game after UCLA had taken a 16-14 lead early in the third quarter.

“I thought in the second half, the offense and the defense really made just good adjustments,” said head coach Mike MacIntyre. “Hats go off to our coaching staff. I thought our kids came out in the second half and kept playing and playing.”

“There are some good things that we can improve upon but the penalties are hurting us,” said first-year UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, who fell to 0-4 after losing only seven games in four years as head coach at Oregon. “We can’t live with those if we are expecting to beat a really good football team. That is what Colorado is right now”.

Continue reading game story here

Win Representative of the “New Normal” for CU football program? … 

The last time Colorado opened a season with a 4-0 record – in 1998 – Rick Neuheisel was still at his first head coaching job.

Armageddon was the highest grossing movie of the year. Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy was the New York Times No 1 best seller.

And over half of CU’s 2018 roster wasn’t even born.

When I say that Colorado’s 38-16 win over UCLA represents “the new normal” for the Buffs, I am not suggesting that the program is at a place where going undefeated for any significant stretches in time is to be expected, much less taken for granted.

What I am suggesting is that the University of Colorado, a national punchline for six of its first seven seasons as a member of the Pac-12 conference, may have turned a page.

For the remainder of the 2018 season, and for the foreseeable future thereafter, the Buffs are going to be considered as a full-fledged member of the Pac-12 Conference.

Considering that, even after winning two of its last three over the Bruins, the Buffs are a collective 10-41-1 all-time against UCLA and CU’s next three opponents – Arizona State, USC, and Washington – saying that the CU program has arrived as a team to be reckoned with in the Pac-12 is a significant statement.

Before Friday night’s game, Colorado had never scored 38 points against a UCLA defense; the Buffs had never enjoyed a 22-point victory margin over the Bruins.

History would suggest that these two teams, who had played close games the previous four years, will again in the near future.

But the days of absorbing losses like the beatdowns the Bruins administered during CU’s first years in the Pac-12 – 45-6, 42-14, and 45-23 – should begin to fade from memory.

Games wherein CU is not only competitive, but occasionally dominates, are going to become the new norm.

The 38-16 victory over UCLA stands as an example of how things have changed.

Colorado had six long scoring drives against UCLA, and Buff fans are remembering solid play calling and great execution by CU’s skill players.

Continue reading Game Essay here


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