CU Games of the Day – September 8th

September 8thCU is 2-3 in games played on this date over the past 40 years … 1984: Tight end Ed Reinhardt sets a school record with ten catches, but it’s not enough, as the Buffs fall to Michigan State, 24-21 .. 2001: Colorado demonstrated that the convincing victory over Colorado State in the opener was no fluke, amassing 560 yards of total offense in dominating San Jose State, 51-15 … 2007: Buffs wilt in 102-degree heat, falling 33-14 to Arizona State after leading 14-0 early … 2012: Buffs hit bottom (again) with a 30-28 loss to Sacramento State, but the “Shirt of Shame” Essay has proven to be one of my most popular ever … 2018: In what would become Mike MacIntyre’s final hurrah, the Buffs take down Nebraska in Lincoln, 33-28 (with video highlights) …

September 8, 1984 – Boulder           Michigan State 24, Colorado 21

Michigan State appeared to be the ideal opening game opponent for the 1984 Buffs.

First, the issue of payback had to be addressed. Colorado had led the Spartans after three quarters in the 1983 opener, only to surrender 17 fourth quarter points in a 23-17 defeat. Second, the 1984 game would be in Boulder, not East Lansing. Finally, the 1983 Michigan State team had finished the 1983 season with a less than stellar record of 4-6-1, including an embarrassing season-ending 42-0 loss at home to arch-rival Michigan.

Colorado and Michigan State were teams which were fairly equal on paper, and the Buffs needed the win if Colorado’s first winning season since 1978 was to become a reality.

Reality bites.

Senior quarterback Steve Vogel did pass for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Ed Reinhardt was Vogel’s favorite target, snagging a Colorado record ten catches for 142 yards and two scores. These numbers would have been more impressive, however, had they not come – for the most part – after the Buffs had fallen behind 24-0 early in the third quarter.

The game, and the season, could not have begun more ominously. After the Buffs’ first drive stalled, punter Allan Braun fumbled the snap. Michigan State recovered. The net result? Michigan State’s first drive of the season: three plays, three yards, one-yard touchdown run.

Colorado was down 7-0 less than four minutes into the game.

Still, it was a game until just before halftime. The Buffs trailed Michigan State 10-0 when Spartan quarterback Dave Yarema hit wide receiver Bobby Ingram with a 35-yard touchdown pass with only 1:15 left in the second quarter. After receiving the second half kickoff, it took Michigan State just 2:40 on the clock to travel 80 yards, culminated by a 56-yard touchdown pass.

Colorado was now down 24-0 with 12:20 still left in the third quarter. Despite the beautiful, 75-degree afternoon, many of the 35,825 in attendance began to leave.

They would miss what should have been one of the greatest comebacks in Colorado history.

Emphasis on “should“.

The Buffs did rally for three fourth quarter touchdowns. Unfortunately, on those occasions when the offense could not reach the end zone, the kicking game failed to come through. On the day, kicker Larry Eckel would miss all four of his field goal attempts, including two attempts in the fourth quarter.

When Vogel hit wide receiver Ron Brown on for an eight-yard touchdown with 1:33 left in the game, the Buffs were within three, 24-21, . The touchdown appeared to be more than just a consolation score when the Spartans fumbled the ball at their own 21-yard line with 1:10 still to play. The chance for the Buffs, once down 24-0, to salvage a tie, seemed like a more than acceptable solution for the Buff Nation.

Larry Eckel had one last attempt at redemption. His final try, with just 22 seconds remaining, sailed wide, sending with it Colorado to a frustrating 0-1 record.

After the game, Bill McCartney said: “We will continue to evaluate our kicking situation.”

No kidding.

Though not known at the time, Larry Eckel had made his last attempts as a Colorado kicker for 1984. Sophomore Dave DeLine would soon take over the kicking chores for the rest of the season.

Home Games

Looking back, I can say now that it was perhaps just as well that the University of Colorado football team fared poorly in 1984.

With all of the studying which was mandated by my law school professors and my peers, if the Buffs had been any good, I would have felt compelled to pay more attention to road games. As it was, it took great effort on my part just to make it to home games.

If you have ever known anyone while they were in law school, you know that they virtually disappear from the social scene during their first year. Law school is a job which requires your full attention – 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week, for four months at a time. First year law school students at CU are not allowed to have an outside job during the school year. What’s worse, there is no let up, no time to regroup. There are no homework assignments to turn in during the semester; no mid-terms or papers. While these events would have been traumatic, they would allow for at least an occasional weekend of peace upon completion. Instead, law students’ entire semester grade in any given class depends solely on one four hour exam during finals week in December.

This completely insane system leaves first year students in a difficult position.

There is no feed back as to whether they are truly comprehending the material as it is force-fed to them, and – just as importantly to many – there is no feedback as to where they stand in the class. This system therefore virtually requires that from the first day of class until the last final, you can – make that you should – be studying.

Go see a movie? No time. The time it would take to go see a movie represented a luxury most of us felt we could not afford. Too much time away from the library. Time was at a premium, and, if you were wasting time, you could feel certain that your classmates were not.

Going to a football game, then, necessitated great sacrifice during the week leading up to the game. Extra hours in the library (as if that were possible) were required. Getting up earlier and staying later. In order to rationalize taking off an entire afternoon, I would promise myself that I would work harder before and after the game.

Colorado football in 1984 to me represented an outlet to the real world, and I still made it to every game.

Too bad the Buffs weren’t much worth watching.

Game Notes –

– Steve Vogel’s numbers against Michigan State – 25 completions on 47 attempts – were both season highs for Colorado.

– Ed Reinhardt’s ten receptions set a team new record, besting the nine receptions Monte Huber had against California in 1968. The record would stand until 1992, when both Michael Westbrook (against Baylor) and Charles E. Johnson (against Missouri) had 11 catches apiece.

– Michigan State would go on to post a winning regular season in the second year under head coach George Perles. The Spartans concluded 1984 with a 6-6 record after losing, 10-6, to Army in the Cherry Bowl.

 September 8, 2001 – Boulder            Colorado 51, San Jose State 15

Colorado demonstrated that the convincing victory over Colorado State was no fluke, amassing 560 yards of total offense in dominating San Jose State, 51-15.  Sophomore Chris Brown scored three touchdowns in leading the Buffs’ balanced attack.  In all, CU, improving to 2-1 on the young season, put up 297 yards through the air and 263 yards on the ground.

“Our plan was just to go out and run the ball first and see how they were going to adjust to that,” said Gary Barnett.  “All we wanted to do was turn around and hand the ball off.”  The Buffs did just that, carrying the ball 55 times on the day.

In the first quarter, Chris Brown had scoring runs of twelve and five yards, while Bobby Purify contributed a 30-yard score to put the Buffs up 21-0 in the first quarter, effectively ending any doubt as to the final outcome.

After a San Jose State field goal, Donald Strickland returned an interception for a touchdown for the second time in as many weeks, doing so on an acrobatic play.  In seemingly one motion, Strickland batted a Marcus Arroyo pass into the air, caught it, and lunged into the end-zone to complete a three-yard return, putting the Buffs up 28-3 in the second quarter.

Everyone contributed to the rout.

The defensive pitched in two interceptions and two blocked kicks while holding heralded running back Deonce Whittaker to 66 yards on 18 carries.  On offense, Craig Ochs completed 14-of-22 passes for 208 yards, including a touchdown pass of 33 yards to sophomore wideout Derek McCoy.  Ochs’ favorite target on the day, tight end Daniel Graham, had a career-high eight catches for 133 yards.

Backup quarterback Bobby Pesavento also saw action, connecting with receiver Matt Brunson on a 62-yard pass, allowing the 27-year old Brunson to become the oldest CU player to score since 28-year old placekicker Pete Dadiotis played for the Buffs in 1978.

“We had pretty much a complete game,” said Gary Barnett.  “We’re a pretty good team right now.  We’re playing with confidence.”

Quarterback Craig Ochs agreed, “We’re starting to get a little swagger now.  We just have to keep it up for the next several games – all season really.”

Two big wins.  Restored confidence in the locker-room.  The dark clouds of controversy, swirling around the Buffs’ program just two short weeks earlier, seemed to be far off in the distance.

There were dark clouds brewing, however.

Only they were coming from an unforeseen source.

 Game Notes:

– The Buffs continued their habit of turning games against San Jose State into record book games. Despite only playing San Jose State three times ever prior to 2001, the Buffs already had 14 individual and eight team records set against the Spartans, the most total records against any non-conference opponent other than hapless Northeast Louisiana (later Louisiana-Monroe), against which CU amassed 23 total records in only two games.

– Donald Strickland joined Victor Scott as the only two players in Colorado history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same season (Scott had both of his returns for scored in the same game, a 25-25 tie with Oklahoma State, 10/16/82).

– Matt Brunson, the 27-year old who scored against San Jose State, took a circuitous route to Boulder. Drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of high school, Brunson played baseball for three years before coming to college in Boulder after stints at Arapahoe Community College and Northern Colorado. Brunson joined the Buffs in 2000 as a junior.

– San Jose State, under first year head coach Fitz Hill, went on to post a 3-9 overall record, 3-5 in Western Athletic Conference play.

September 8, 2007 – at Arizona State          Arizona State 33, Colorado 14

No, there is no such thing as a good loss (especially after taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter).

But is there hope for the rest of the season?

The Arizona State Sun Devils shook off early mistakes and a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Colorado Buffaloes, 33-14. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter completed 19 of 37 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns as the Sun Devils dominated the last three quarters of the game. A crowd of 58,417 gladly accepted the late start time (7:28 p.m. local), as the temperature was 102 degrees at kickoff.

As with the CSU game the week before, the Buffs started out as well as could have possibly been expected. Against the Rams, the Buffs took the opening kickoff and marched smartly down the field for a score. Against the Sun Devils, the Colorado offense didn’t even need to take the field for the Buffs to take the lead, as on the third play of the game’s opening drive, ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter was intercepted by Buff cornerback Terrence Wheatley. Wheatley returned the ball 35 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 CU lead less than one minute into the game.

The remainder of the first quarter was spent almost entirely on the Sun Devil side of the field. Colorado had five drives in the quarter, the worst of which started on the Buffs’ 49 yard line. Despite great opportunities provided by their hosts, the Buffs could do no better than a 14-0 lead. Arizona State committed three personal fouls and had pass interference call go for a fourth Buff first down, but the Colorado offense could not capitalize. It took a Sun Devil fumbled punt at the ASU 17 yard line and a personal foul penalty on a field goal attempt to give the Buffs their second score. A 10-yard touchdown pass from Cody Hawkins to wide receiver Scotty McKnight put the Buffs up 14-0. In the quarter, Colorado had four first downs – all by penalty.

Rather than wilt in the heat, however, the Sun Devils thereafter slowly took control of the game.

Arizona State took a 19-14 halftime lead on three touchdowns in the last four minutes of the half. First, Rudy Carpenter hit Michael Jones from 12 yards out to culminate a 12-play, 80-yard drive to cut the lead to 14-7. Four plays later, Cody Hawkins was intercepted by Troy Nolan, who returned the pick 26 yards for a score (the extra point attempt was missed, leaving the score at 14-13).

Colorado still clung to the lead with 2:55 remaining in the half, but another three-and-out gave the Sun Devils another opportunity. In nine plays taking just 1:11 of possession, Arizona State marched 86 yards, with Kyle Williams giving the Sun Devils their first lead of the game, 19-14, on a 22-yard pass from Carpenter with 14 seconds before halftime (a two-point conversion attempt failed).

The second half was all ASU.

After the Buffs failed to mount an attack on the first possession of the third quarter, the Sun Devils needed only four plays to cover 46 yards to put the game out of reach. The Ryan Torain seven yard scoring run effectively ended the drama for the evening, and a Rudy Carpenter to Michael Jones touchdown covering 20 yards late in the third quarter rounded out the scoring. When the dust had settled after a scoreless fourth quarter, the Sun Devils were 2-0 after a convincing 33-14 win over Colorado.

“When the defense is playing really, really well, the offense has to be able to compliment that,” said CU head coach Dan Hawkins. “When you get in that situation, you have to learn how to capitalize. When you don’t, it becomes almost a reverse momentum.” Cornerback Terrence Wheatley had another way of putting it: “We had their wallet. We took their money and we gave it back to them with interest.”

On the day, the CU offense looked like the Buff offense of 2006 – unable to muster any consistency. Cody Hawkins hit on only 15 of 42 passes for 155 yards, though several of his throws could have resulted in touchdowns (Patrick Williams dropped a sure touchdown on the Buffs’ second possession, and another potential score drifted threw the hands of freshman wide receiver Kendrick Celestine in the second quarter when the Buffs still lead, 14-13). The CU running game was non-existent, with a net of 39 yards rushing on 27 attempts.

Up next for the 1-1 Buffs was Florida State. The Seminoles were also 1-1, having lost to Clemson, 24-18, before rebounding to defeat Alabama-Birmingham, 34-24. The latter game had some eerie similarities to the CU/ASU game. The Seminoles fell behind by two touchdowns at home, 17-3, before roaring back to outscore their visitors, 31-7, the rest of the game. Even if the Buffs were fortunate enough to stake themselves to an early lead the following week against Florida State, players and fans on both sides of Folsom Field would be forgiven if they were to wonder if a similar comeback was imminent.

Still on Pace

The Buffs were 14-point underdogs heading into Sun Devil Stadium, and left 19 point losers. In the grand scheme of things, the loss was not the end of the world. Colorado still has another five wins out there on the 2007 schedule to post a bowl-worthy record. The win over Colorado State was mandatory, as will be the game against Miami (Ohio) game in two weeks.

The Arizona State and Florida State games were and are opportunities to break through and garner some national attention. The appetites of Buff fans were whetted by a 14-0 lead against the Sun Devils, so it was easy to overlook the fact that the Buffs had no offensive first downs in the first quarter. The Sun Devils were faster and stronger, and, especially in the second half, seemed more interested in winning the game.

So what of the 2007 Buffs? Is the offense receding back to 2006 levels, where progress was marked in first downs, not touchdowns? Have the Sun Devils provided a formula for future opponents to emulate (blitz and confuse) which the Buffs’ freshman quarterback and young offensive line would not be able to overcome? Was this the beginning of another slide below mediocrity?

Not in my opinion. These young Buffs have yet to have a home game, and the next three contests will be within the friendly confines of Folsom Field. Yes, the Seminoles of Florida State have speed at the skill positions, and a veteran quarterback, but this is not the Seminoles of the 1990’s. FSU fell behind 17-3, at home, to an Alabama-Birmingham team which lost its opener, 55-18, to a mediocre Michigan State team. If the Buffs come out fast against the Seminoles (and, if the first two games had any similarities, it was that the Buffs came out of the gate fast), the elements which worked against the Buffs in the second half against Arizona State (late start, extreme heat) will work in favor of the Buffs in the second half against Florida State (a late start – 10:00 p.m. for the eastern time zone Seminoles, high altitude).

Can you look back at two plays and say that the Arizona State game could have gone another way? Sure. With a first-and-ten at the Arizona State 45-yard line with just over two minutes before halftime and the Buffs clinging to a 14-13 lead, Cody Hawkins laid the ball into the hands of wide receiver Kendrick Celestine. The freshman was behind the ASU secondary, but the ball fell right between his hands. A score would have put the Buffs up 21-13 just before the half. Who knows?

The second play came moments later. After punting the ball back to Arizona State, the Sun Devils faced a fourth-and-six at the Colorado 38-yard line. An incompletion would have preserved the Buff lead going into the half, but Rudy Carpenter connected with Chris McGaha for sixteen yards and a first down (the tackle was made by senior, though first year Buff, Daniel Dykes). Two plays later, Carpenter hit Kyle Williams for a touchdown. Instead of being down 21-13 or at least 14-13, the Sun Devils were up at the half, 19-14, and never looked back.

Would those two plays have made a difference? Perhaps not. Still, these were plays not made by first year players that more veteran players may have made. That is our lot this year. With the enthusiasm of the players and their promise of future success comes the reality that they are first year players who make mistakes.

Hang in there, folks. It’s going to be a wild (and sometimes disappointing) journey.

Game Notes –

– The 102 degree temperature at kickoff was the highest in Buff history. The previous high was 99 degrees at kickoff against UCLA in Los Angeles (the Rose Bowl), on September 21, 2002. The Buffs, 1-2 on the season and coming off a 40-3 home loss to USC, defeated the Bruins, 31-17.

– Terrence Wheatley’s interception was the 11th of his career, tying him for 6th on the all-time list with Ben Kelly (1997-99) and Steve Rosga (1992-96). The return for a score was the second for Wheatley, now just one shy of the all-time Buff record of three in a career set by Victor Scott (1980-83).

September 8, 2012 – Boulder           Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28

Walk-on Sacramento State kicker Edgar Castenda was awarded a scholarship in the post-game locker room after his third field goal of the day, a 30-yarder as time expired, gave the Hornets a 30-28 victory over Colorado. With the loss, the Buffs, who had never played an FCS team (formerly 1-AA) in school history prior to 2006, fell to 1-2 against Big Sky Conference teams.

Sacramento State posted 466 yards of total offense against a Buff defense which had played well in the season opening loss to Colorado State. The Buff offense, led by Christian Powell’s 147 yards rushing and three touchdowns, had four scoring drives of 65 yards or longer, but was otherwise unproductive against a Hornet defense which surrendered 49 points to New Mexico State a week earlier.

Continue reading Game Story here

Shirt of Shame … 

It’s been twenty-five years since I graduated from the CU School of Law.

It’s now been a full quarter century since my seven year stint as a resident of Boulder came to an end, and my 700-mile commute to home games from Bozeman, Montana, began.

For many years, I drove down for home games. I got to know every mile marker, every gas station, every rest stop across the very (verrry) boring expanses of eastern Wyoming. My wife, Lee, made a few of the trips, but quickly made it known that she was not interested in continuing the bonding opportunities provided by 22 hours of driving back and forth from Bozeman to Boulder. Our son, Adam, made a few trips, but also was able, in time, to find other ways to spend his weekends in pursuit of other distractions. I then recruited my friend Randy, who had no ties to Colorado – either the state or the school – to the Buff Nation, but was willing to endure the drive in exchange for a game ticket and some good football.

More recently, though, I have opted for flying down for games. The commute only takes an hour-and-a-half, and is much easier on the body and mind. With only two days out of town, packing is easy and routine. I wear my CU gear on the flight down, and have a wide assortment of CU gameday outfits to stow away, depending on the weather forecast.

For my Sunday ensemble, though, I pack two shirts. The first is a CU shirt, to be worn with pride as I stroll through Denver International Airport after a Buff victory. The second is just a regular polo shirt, devoid of logos or pronouncements of my allegiance to the University of Colorado. to be worn if the Buffs suffer an embarrassing loss.

My Shirt of Shame.

Continue reading Game Essay here

September 8, 2018 – Lincoln           Colorado 33, Nebraska 28

Steven Montez hit Laviska Shenault for a 40-yard touchdown with 1:06 to play, giving Colorado a 33-28 come-from-behind win over Nebraska in Lincoln. Montez went 33-for-50 passing, going for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Shenault collected ten of those passes for 177 yards and a touchdown … also scoring on a three-yard run in the first quarter.

The game went back and forth all afternoon. The Buffs raced out to an early 14-0 lead, only to watch the Cornhuskers dominate play for the remainder of the first half. Nebraska led 21-17 at the break, having posted 243 yards rushing to CU’s nine. The Buffs steadied themselves in the second half, overcoming two missed field goals before securing the winning points in the final minute of play.

Nebraska had 565 yards of total offense against the Colorado defense, with freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez completing 15-of-20 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown (one interception), while also leading the Cornhuskers in rushing (15 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns). For the Buffs, other than the Montez-to-Shenault combo, there was little offensive production (395 total yards of total offense). Kyle Evans and Travon McMillian each had 25 yards rushing, while no Buff other than Shenault was over 50 yards receiving (though Jay MacIntyre had eight catches for 45 yards and two touchdowns.

“They closed the middle of the field,” Montez said of the game-winning touchdown play. “I knew they were pressed on Laviska and I knew he was going to go beat his man. All I had to do was look the safety off for a split second. I looked him off for the first step of my drop and that got him out of the way just long enough.  I gave him a ball with air and Laviska made a helluva play.”

Read full game story here


The Colorado/Nebraska rivalry means something different to every Buff coach, player, and fan.

For the players, most of whom were in elementary school the last time the Buffs and Cornhuskers played, having Nebraska on the schedule didn’t carry with it a great deal of extra meaning.

“A lot of the guys on the team know about the history. They have been playing all of the highlights and the clips around the Champions Center this whole week now”, said quarterback Steven Montez before the game. “To us, we just treat it like another game. They are just another team wearing a different color than us. We have to go in and do what we do best, play our game, and hopefully it will work out for us in the end.”

Added running back Travon McMillian, himself just a Buff for one game before the showdown in Lincoln, “We don’t know much about it because it has been so long since Colorado and Nebraska have played, but we are taking this game really seriously. We are preparing as hard as we can in practice so when we go out there we can execute to the best of our ability.”

Even head coach Mike MacIntyre, who acknowledged hearing about Nebraska from Buff fans the entire off-season, wasn’t caught up in the hype. “(Film clips of CU/Nebraska) were just on when I got here early Sunday morning,” said MacIntyre at his Tuesday press conference. “I don’t know who put it on, but all the televisions were on. The one in my conference room was on so I watched a few minutes of it, but then I turned it off because I need to go watch film”.

For older Buff fans, though, the game has much deeper meaning, and much of that is thanks to the efforts of former CU head coach Bill McCartney (1982-94).

McCartney was on the CU campus this past week. He had no problem getting excited about Nebraska week.

“It is game week. I would rather be dead than red,” said McCartney. “Seriously, here is what you have to understand about Nebraska. Here we have CU, CSU, Air Force, and the Broncos. You know what they’ve got in Nebraska? Nothing. Just that team that’s coming. There is nothing else there for them to do. When they get up every day, that is the only option they have is to get behind that big red thing. We have to beat them. That’s the only thing they understand. They understand that. If you beat them, they’ll salute. If you don’t you will hear about it. We don’t want to hear about it, especially from their media. They don’t stop. You know what the media can be like right? You know how media gets a little out of control here in Denver, and wears out their welcome? It gets worse there. Sorry.”

While Nebraska fans are loath to call Colorado a rival, there is definitely some dislike for the Buffs (if you have the stomach for it, check out this article from SB Nation, “Colorado Suffers from Mediocre-Program Syndrome“, posted this past week).

My history with the Colorado/Nebraska rivalry goes back to my freshman year, 1980, but my hatred for Nebraska can be traced to Husker Week, 1982, Bill McCartney’s first season in Boulder.

My first two seasons in Boulder, the Buffs had lost to Nebraska 45-7 and 59-0, and no one expected a different result in 1982.

No one except for Bill McCartney, that is.

The story of my first encounter with Coach Mac I can be found here (“No. 7 Nebraska – In Search of a Rival – Meeting Coach Bill McCartney“).

Suffice it to say, I have had a strong dislike for all things Cornhusker for decades.

For every warm memory, however, there has been any number of mind-numbing defeats (the five losses between 1996 and 2000, by a combined 15 points, were especially tough to take).

The Buffs, and the Buff Nation – which has suffered mightily for the past decade – has been in desperate need of a morale boost. The Nebraska game provided just such an opportunity.

The Buffs and Cornhuskers haven’t played since 2010. Neither team has won a conference title in their new conferences. Both teams are looking to re-establish their identities as a national program.

The game had a 1:30 p.m., kickoff (MT), and was nationally televised on ABC.

For a team which has had most of its games in recent years relegated to the (unavailable or unwatched) Pac-12 Networks, it was a golden opportunity to make a statement.

And the Buffs rose to the challenge.

Was it pretty? No. You can’t witness an offensive line which surrenders seven sacks and not cringe. You can’t watch an offense go three-and-out four consecutive possessions in the second quarter and not wonder if the 2017 team (and the 2015 team, and the 2014 team …) was back.

Instead, the 2018 Buff team showed heart, showed grit, showed resolve.

Continue reading essay here


3 Replies to “CU Games of the Day – Sept. 8th”

  1. The only thing a corn cob is good for is _ _ _ _ _ _ _. And that’s the only thing…. when nothing else is available. SHUCKS.

    I’ll leave it at that.


    I don think most of them even understand that.