Dave Plati’s Top Three Game Eight’s

Plati-‘Tudes Short No. 8 … The eighth installment of CU’s best or most exciting football games in its history as to when they occurred in week eight of any season.  We’re running these over the second half of the spring on our “Throwback Thursdays” — many are obvious, a few obscure, and no doubt some up for debate.  So here are the best “game eight” games in our history in my humble opinion:

GAME 8’s
#1—1989: Colorado 20, Oklahoma 3 at Norman

Colorado had ascended to No. 3 in the nation with a 7-0 record, and first of the “Big Reds” awaited in Norman for the Buffaloes.  At 5-2, the Sooners had just dropped out of the top 25 despite a wild 43-40 win at Iowa State the previous week; OU was at one point ranked sixth in the country.  A dangerous game loomed ahead against No. 2 Nebraska in Boulder, and Oklahoma owned a 12-game winning streak in the series, though barely escaped with a 17-14 win in Boulder the previous season.  After each team failed to score on their first four possessions, CU finally broke through with a 30-yard field goal by Ken Culbertson with 5:13 left in the first half.  The Buffs forced OU into a three-and-out, and CU took over on its own 47.  Darian Hagan let loose with a 40-yard run around the right side to the O13, and four plays later, faced a second-and-goal at the OU 1.  One of the great plays in CU history then took place; Hagan appeared to be going down at the 2, but then pitched the ball about 10 feet in the air over two OU defenders where J.J. Flannigan caught it and ran untouched into the end zone for a 10-0 lead with 1:51 left in the half.  After a scoreless third quarter, the two traded field goals to open the fourth, Culbertson making good on a 27-yard boot after OU pulled to within one score.  Garry Howe recovered a Sooner fumble at the OU 9, where three plays later Hagan ran it in from 8 yards out to seal the win.

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… The CU at the Game game story, including the essay, “Getting a High Five in the Produce Aisle“, can be found here

Runner-Up—1976: Colorado 42, Oklahoma 31 in Boulder

In the weirdest Big Eight season ever (five teams entered the last game of the year with a shot at the conference title), CU had rebounded from a 24-12 loss to No. 6 Nebraska to defeat Oklahoma State (20-10, with two touchdowns in the final 43 seconds) and No. 16 Iowa State to stand 2-1 in league action.  Oklahoma was 2-1 as well, ranked No. 13 but had fallen seven spots in the polls after losing to Oklahoma State the previous week as the Cowboys rallied after their loss to CU (OSU and Nebraska were also 2-1 at that point).   Tim Mangnall made a 38-yard field goal on CU’s first possession, but the Sooners responded two scores in 62 seconds on a 71-yard TD run by Kenny King and another TD after a CU fumble for a 14-3 lead.   Jim Kelleher capped a 13-play drive with a 2-yard TD run to knock the deficit down to 14-10, and then turned an OU fumble, recovered by Ruben Vaughan into a 28-yard TD run on an option call and CU was back ahead, 17-14.  OU bounced right back with another King TD and the Sooners recaptured the lead at 21-17; Mangnall added a 39-yard field goal and cut the margin to 21-20 … ending a wacky first half in which both teams gained 222 yards on offense but because of the big play, CU had a 13-4 edge in first downs.

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Honorable Mention—1961: Colorado 7, Nebraska 0 at Lincoln

To this day, one of the greatest defensive efforts in Colorado history.  The Buffs entered in the hunt for their first Big Eight title, with a 6-1 record and ranked No. 8 in the nation, though stung the week before in a 21-12 home loss to Utah; Nebraska was 3-4-1, needing wins over CU and Oklahoma to avoid a rare losing record at home.  On a typical cold (31 degrees) and cloudy mid-November day in Lincoln, the game was scoreless at halftime, as the Buffs missed two field goals and lost a fumble.  When it started to appear neither team could break through, Jim Perkins recovered an NU fumble at the Husker 11; four plays later, Gale Weidner scored on a quarterback sneak with Jerry Hillebrand adding the extra point for a 7-0 lead and what turned out to be the game’s only points with 2:31 left in the third quarter.  And they were the only ones the Buffs needed, as in 12 possessions, the Cornhuskers never got any further than their own 41-yard line, punting nine times, most inside their own 25; the other three ended in the costly fumble, on downs and the halftime clock.  CU gained 343 yards on offense and amassed 20 first downs, while the CU defense held NU to zero (yes, zero) first downs and just 31 yards total offense, which included a net of zero in the second half.  Loren Schweninger led the CU offense with 93 rushing yards, with Bill Harris adding 53 (with 45 receiving yards); Hillebrand caught four passes for 84 yards.  Weidner completed 10-of-14 passes for 150 yards, while two Husker quarterbacks combined to go 0-for-12.  The Buffs went on to defeat Iowa State the next Saturday and finish 7-0 in league play, claiming that first Big Eight crown.

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To Which I Would Add the Following … 

October 30, 1999           Colorado 38, No. 24 Oklahoma 24  

... Mike Moschetti leads the Buffs to a home upset of the Sooners … 

Mike Moschetti, showing no ill effects from a concussion which had sidelined him a week earlier, threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as Colorado upended 24th-ranked Oklahoma, 38-24.

Moschetti completed 22-of-31 attempts for 382 yards, including scoring passes of 49 and 88 yards to junior wide receiver Javon Green, on his way to being named the Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Week.

The Colorado defense, despite giving up 24 points, more than held its own.

Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel came into the game already owning – after six games – most of the single season passing records for the Sooners. Heupel was also making inroads on many of the career passing records at Oklahoma, but against Colorado, all Heupel received was a pounding.

Last in the Big 12 in sacks entering the contest, the Buff defense got to Heupel three times. Heupel was also suffered four interceptions, connecting on 26-of-58 passes on the day. “Defensively, we kept responding,” said Colorado coach Gary Barnett. “We had a great defensive plan (which at times had the Buffs utilizing six defensive backs and only one linebacker). We didn’t want to sit back and let them just throw the ball.”

After a long punt return deep into Colorado territory, Oklahoma took the early lead with a field goal on its first possession, but the Buffs responded late in the first quarter with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Marcus Stiggers. Oklahoma then took its second – and last – lead of the game with a two-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in the half.

Again the Buffs responded, taking only three plays to cover 62 yards to regain the lead. A 49-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Javon Green gave Colorado a 14-10 halftime advantage.

The Buffs expanded on their lead in the third quarter thanks to Ben Kelly.

The senior cornerback had two interceptions in the quarter. The first, on the opening drive of the second half, was returned to the Oklahoma one-yard line, with Moschetti taking the ball in on the next play to make it a 21-10 game. Two possessions later, Kelly picked off another Heupel offering, with the Buff offense converting that turnover into a 33-yard field goal by Jeremy Aldrich.

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… and here is the YouTube version of the Game … 

October 26, 2002           No. 21 Colorado 37, Texas Tech 13

… This game remembered for Tyler Brayton’s “Line in the Sand” … 

Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury came to Boulder as the nation’s leader in pass completions, attempts, yards passing and touchdowns. Kingsbury left town with a sore arm, no touchdowns, and a loss, as the Colorado defense rose to the occasion in leading the Buffs to a convincing 37-13 win.

Kingsbury did get his yards, 268 in all, but on 36-of-65 passing and no touchdowns. The Red Raider quarterback had been intercepted only six times in 419 attempts in leading Texas Tech to a 5-3 record, but was picked off four times by the Buffs. “To state the obvious, that was a heck of a defensive effort,” stated Colorado head coach Gary Barnett. “All week everybody was talking about their offense and their quarterback, and our defense just sat back quietly and waited for the challenge.”

Texas Tech took a 3-0 lead on its first possession of the game, aided by two Colorado penalties. After a 46-yard kickoff return by Roderick Sneed, the Buffs responded with a 48-yard field goal by Pat Brougham to tie the score. Colorado took a 10-3 lead thanks to a 41-yard interception return to the Red Raider five yard line by linebacker Kory Mossini, setting up a three-yard scoring run by Chris Brown.

Tech tied the score on a two-yard run by Taurean Henderson late in the first quarter, and then took its second lead of the game, 13-10, early in the second quarter on a Robert Treece 42-yard field goal. A short punt gave CU good field position late in the half, with Robert Hodge hitting Derek McCoy from 14 yards out with 13 seconds remaining to give the Buffs a 16-13 halftime edge (Brougham missed the extra point).

While the first half was a back-and-forth battle, the second half was all Colorado.

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October 22, 2016 – at Stanford          Colorado 10, Stanford 5

… Buffs gain bowl eligibility on the road with a strong defensive effort … 

Colorado became bowl eligible for the first time since 2007 with a hard-fought 10-5 win over Stanford. Buff field goal kickers missed three of four field goal attempts, making the game tense throughout, but four turnovers forced by the Buff defense preserved the victory.

Sefo Liufau connected with Shay Fields on a 15-yard score early in the second quarter, providing the game’s only touchdown. Otherwise, Liufau was largely held in check, hitting 12-of-25 for 135 yards, but was picked up by running back Phillip Lindsay, who had 12 carries for 131 yards.

In holding the Cardinal out of the end zone, the Buff defense had three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tedric Thompson had two interceptions, the second coming midway through the fourth quarter, setting up the Buffs’ field goal. Linebacker Kenneth Olugbode recovered a fumble at the Buff five yard line to snuff out Stanford’s drive to take the lead, with Isaiah Oliver collecting his interception in the final minutes to seal the victory.

“We have one goal, and that’s Pac-12 champions,” said running back Phillip Lindsay after rushing for 131 yards before leaving midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury. “Winning six games, that’s cool, it’s cute. But we have to continue to move on. We have bigger things to worry about.”

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From the Essay for the game, “Changing of the Guard” …

There was a seismic event in the Bay Area this weekend … and it had nothing to do with earthquakes.

Stanford and Oregon, the two teams which have won all five of the Pac-12 titles to date, officially bowed out of the race for the 2016 Pac-12 championship. On Friday night, Oregon lost to California, 52-49, in a game which featured 203 plays, 101 points, and 1,086 total yards. Then, on Saturday afternoon, Stanford lost to Colorado, 10-5, in a game which featured a grand total of one touchdown and just over 600 total yards between the two offenses.

Oregon and Stanford found two different ways to lose this weekend.

Yet the two teams suffered similar fates.

Oregon, which has lost five straight for the first time since 1996, fell to 2-5, 1-4 in Pac-12 play. Stanford, which lost to Colorado for the first time since 1990, fell to 4-3, 2-3 in Pac-12 play. While there are still mathematical possibilities for the Ducks or Cardinal to overtake Washington (7-0, 4-0) and Washington State (5-2, 4-0) … it ain’t happenin’.

Which means that, after three Stanford titles (2012, 2013, and 2015) and two for Oregon (2011, 2014), there will be a new Pac-12 champion anointed at the Pac-12 title game in Levi’s Stadium on December 2nd.

A changing of the guard.

One of the contenders for the 2016 Pac-12 title is the University of Colorado.

Let’s let that one sink in for a moment.

As the calendar turns from October to November, one of the prime candidates to compete for the Pac-12 championship is – and will be – the University of Colorado.

The same team which entered this season with a 5-40 all-time record in Pac-12 play.

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