Game(s) of the Day – September 10th

NoteTo help us get through our CU football withdrawal, I’ll be posting a “Game of the Day” everyday through to Thanksgiving weekend, with links to some of the best CU games over the past 40 years.

September 10th over the past forty years has given us three non-conference routs, with the Buffs winning by a combined score of 131-10 (which gives Buff fans hope for the rematch against Air Force, a game scheduled to be played in Colorado Springs on September 10, 2022!) … 

September 10, 1988 – Boulder           Colorado 45, Fresno State 3

Colorado opened the 1988 season with an impressive domination of Fresno State, running up a final score of 45-3 before a sparse crowd of 32,417. The Buffs amassed a decade-high 446 yards rushing, led by Eric Bieniemy, who posted 118 yards and a touchdown. In all, Colorado had four players rush for over 70 yards, with the outcome never seriously in doubt.

For a team which spent most of its time on the ground, the Buffs scored their first touchdown of the season in an unusual fashion – through the air. With 10:40 left to play in the first quarter, Sal Aunese connected with Mike Pritchard for a 35-yard score and a lead Colorado would not relinquish. A 29-yard field goal by Eric Hannah gave the Buffs a 10-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs tried to make a game of it ended early in the second quarter, driving inside the Colorado ten yard line. The Buffs’ defense stiffened, though, and Fresno State had to settle for a 24-yard field goal.

A 14-point burst in the first five minutes of the third quarter removed any doubts about the outcome. A 74-yard run by Jeff Campbell gave Colorado a 17-3 lead, with the advantage upped to 24-3 a few moments later after a 35-yard touchdown run by Eric Bieniemy.

The remainder of the game the Buffs’ coaching staff experimented with different lineups, with sophomore backup quarterback Marc Walters contributing a 20-yard touchdown pass to fullback George Hemingway, and freshman backup quarterback Darian Hagan scoring on a ten-yard run.

The Buffs’ defense more than held up its end, holding Fresno State to 177 total yards, allowing only the 24-yard second quarter field goal.

Colorado had won convincingly, but did not impress the nation’s pollsters.

Colorado did make its debut among the “others receiving votes” in the AP poll, but only accumulated two points and a “ranking” of 39th overall. There was some good news for the Buffs that first weekend, though, as 2nd-ranked Nebraska was stunned by 5th-ranked UCLA, 41-28, dropping the hated Cornhuskers out of the top ten.

The Buffs, though, were not in position to worry about any other schools.

Up next for the Buffs was a trip to Iowa City, Iowa, to face the 19th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa, stunned by Hawaii, 27-24, in its season-opener, was 1-1 on the season after rebounding with a 45-10 rout of Kansas State. The Hawkeyes, led by senior quarterback Chuck Hartlieb, had national aspirations of their own, and knew they could not afford to look past the Buffs if their goals were to be achieved.

Where is Everybody?

The Buffs were touted as a possible contender for Big Eight and national honors in 1988. The program had put together three consecutive regular season winning records for the first time since 1976-78.

Plenty to get excited about … Any yet, a sparse crowd of only 32,417 bothered to attend the 1988 season opener.

Granted, Fresno State was not a marquee draw and the Buffs had yet to prove themselves to be consistent winners, but 32,417? The crowd was the smallest home crowd to come see the Buffs since 28,210 braved a November chill in 1985 to see Colorado close out the season against hapless Kansas State.

For Colorado to demand national respect, the Buffs would have to first win over their own fans.

Continue reading story here

September 10, 2005 – Boulder           Colorado 39, New Mexico State 0

Colorado shut out an opponent for the first time since 2002 in routing New Mexico State in Boulder, 39-0.

The game, kicking off at 8:10 p.m., was at the time the latest ever for Colorado at Folsom Field, but the game was out of reach early enough for most Buff fans to get a good night’s sleep. Joel Klatt passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Lawrence Vickers scored three times in leading the Buffs over the Aggies.

Colorado scored on its opening possession, with Lawrence Vickers finishing off a 42-yard drive with a two-yard run less than six minutes into the contest. The Buffs dominated the remainder of the first half, but were up only 10-0 with two minutes left before the break. A second Mason Crosby field goal gave Colorado a 13-0 lead with 1:52 remaining.

After failing to make a first down on its next possession, New Mexico State botched the punt attempt, with the ball sailing out of the end-zone for a Colorado safety. Taking the subsequent free kick, the Buffs quickly marched 63 yards in four plays, with Joel Klatt hitting Lawrence Vickers on a three-yard pass to give the Buffs a commanding 22-0 halftime lead.

Colorado scored on its opening possession of the second half as well, with sixth-year tight end Quinn Sypniewski culminating the 59-yard drive with an 11-yard pass from Klatt. It was Sypniewski’s first career touchdown (though he did have a two-point conversion reception against Missouri in 2002). The Buffs finished off a record-setting third quarter – 14 first downs, the most ever in a single quarter – with a 13-play, 89-yard drive, capped off by another Vickers’ score, this time on an 11-yard run.

Up 36-0 after three quarters, and reserves getting some field experience, the only remaining issue of the game was whether the shutout could be preserved.

Twice the Aggies penetrated the CU red-zone, but scoring opportunities were lost on a blocked field goal and an interception in the Buff end-zone.

“In almost every phase I felt we were focused,” said Gary Barnett, whose coaching record in Division 1-A improved to 79-78-2, (44-33 at Colorado), the first time over .500 in his career. “I’m extremely pleased defensively that we were able to shut down a team that does a lot of things to you.”

A big win over New Mexico State was expected (the Buffs were 24-point favorites), but keeping the Aggies out of the end-zone was a bonus. New Mexico State’s coach Hal Mumme brought his passing offense in to challenge Colorado’s maligned secondary, but came up empty. The Aggies generated only 181 yards of total offense, including only five rushing yards.

The five rushing yards allowed, the seventh-best effort ever by a Buff defense, was one of several milestones set against the Aggies:

– Running back Hugh Charles became the first back since Marcus Houston in 2000 to open the season with two 100-yard games, posting 105 yards before sitting out much of the fourth quarter;

– Quarterback Joel Klatt became only the third Buff quarterback ever to surpass 5,000 career yards, climbing to 5,148 by game’s end, trailing only Koy Detmer (5,390 yards) and Kordell Stewart (6,481)

– All-everything Mason Crosby saw his school-record 10 consecutive made field goal string end with a miss from 55 yards out in the first quarter, but extended his string of consecutive games with a made field goal to six, two shy of Fred Lima’s record set in 1972-‘73.

After gathering up all of the records and accolades from their easy win, the only stat that mattere was that the Buffs were 2-0 on the 2005 season.

Up next was a bye week, followed by a trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes. Miami would enter the contest ranked 12th, having lost their opener to Florida State, 10-7, before bouncing back with a 36-30 three-overtime win over Clemson. Both of Miami’s opening games were against ranked teams on the road. Now the Hurricanes would face the Buffs for the first time since 1993, at home in the Orange Bowl against unranked Colorado (still on the outside looking in at No. 32).

The game against Miami represented a great opportunity for the Buffs.

A win would guarantee entry into the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons. A close loss would still give the Buffs some momentum heading into Big 12 conference play.

The negatives would resurface, though, if – for the 16th time in the Gary Barnett era – the Buffs limped home with a double digit loss.

Klatt Attack

In the fall of 2002, a former baseball player quietly walked on to the Colorado football squad.

In his first season as a Buff quarterback, Joel Klatt saw mop up duty against Baylor, failing to complete a pass. Two seasons and two games later, Klatt became only the third quarterback in Colorado history to pass for over 5,000 yards.

Eclipsing the 5,000 mark against New Mexico State, Klatt, with 5,148 yards, was in position to become the most prolific passer in CU history, with Koy Detmer (at 5,390) only a game or two away, and Kordell Stewart (at 6,481) well within reach. The other two each had long NFL careers.

Klatt was a former shortstop from Arvada.

“I’ve said this before, but you have to be lucky and stay away from injuries,” said Klatt, the unassuming captain of the Buffs. “You have to be in a passing offense, and luckily, we are.”

Klatt’s career started off with a bang, throwing for 402 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado State in his first game. For all of 2003, Klatt had 2,614 yards passing, including 21 touchdowns. Klatt’s first season netted 19 school records.

But it wasn’t always easy.

Selected as a team captain in 2004, Klatt was the oft-quoted spokesman for the team during the turbulent spring and summer between the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The pressure of representing his team and his school seemingly took a toll on Klatt, as he struggled on the field in 2004. Klatt passed for over 2,000 yards, but had nine touchdowns to go with his 15 interceptions, and he was benched as starter for the Iowa State contest.

Only 14-10 as a starter, and not nimble as a runner (Klatt’s 33 yards rushing against New Mexico State raised his career total to a minus-100 yards rushing), Klatt would not soon make Buff fans forget the athleticism of Stewart or the precision of Detmer. He was poised, though, to become the Buffs’ all-time leading passer.

Not too shabby for a former walk-on.

Read full game story here

September 10, 2016 – Boulder          Colorado 56, Idaho State 7

Sefo Liufau passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards and another score in less than a half as Colorado routed Idaho State, 56-7.

Phillip Lindsay ran for two scores as the Buffs built a 49-0 halftime lead on its way to a second straight blowout win.

Liufau, who had 384 yards of offense in the 44-7 win over Colorado State in the 2016 opener to earn Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, had another big game with touchdown passes of 15 and 4 yards. He ended his day with a 19-yard touchdown run late in Colorado’s 35-point second quarter that made it 42-0.

Liufau’s backup Steven Montez connected with Kabion Ento for two more touchdown passes.

Jakori Ford scored for the Bengals (1-1), who had just seven first downs and 96 yards total offense.

“I was very impressed with what our staff did with our guys, I liked how focused they were”, said CU coach Mike MacIntyre. “Our upperclassmen did a good job of staying focused in practice and they kept working.  That’s what we talk about all the time, it’s to worry about Colorado and nothing else.  I’m seeing that in this group of guys”.

Continue reading game story here

Great(er) Expectations

It’s been a long time since Colorado football has been part of the national discussion. So long, in fact, that Buff fans can be forgiven for not remembering what it’s like.

The past two weeks, though, there has been a pleasant sprinkling of rain in CU’s decade-long drought.

In the polls which came out after the Colorado State game, Colorado received a solitary vote in both the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the USA Today Coaches’ poll. Not exactly “hold the presses” news for the rest of the nation, but it was a big deal for #TheRise in Colorado football.

Which coach voted for the Buffs in the USA Today poll remains a mystery. Sources report that CU coach Mike MacIntyre, one of six Pac-12 coaches among the 64 head coaches on the panel, did not vote for the Buffs (and, no, CSU head coach Mike Bobo is not on the list, so it wasn’t him, either).

The writer who cast the one vote the Buffs received in the Associated Press poll, however, is known. Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald, publicly disclosed his vote for Colorado. His explanation:

… No. 25 Colorado: And here we have a controversial pick. CU? The Buffaloes? Which has won 11 games in four years? Yes. Colorado, based on one of the most dominant wins of the weekend, a 44-7 rout of Colorado State. CU out-gained CSU by 353 yards, won the turnover battle +2, converted 12 of 19 third downs — this was a good performance. Better than TCU and Pitt — even if both won. If the goal is to reward performance, and not some preconceived notion of goodness, then, through one week, Colorado is a top 25 team to me. They may drop out soon enough.

With the quixotic vote from a writer from the Big Red Report being a tenuous one at best, Colorado’s stay in the “others receiving votes” in the AP poll may be short-lived. Still, it remains the first top 25 vote for the program since 2008 (the Buffs haven’t been in the Top 25 proper since 2005).

And it’s not as if the Colorado program isn’t receiving love from other sectors:

— In the ESPN Top 25 Power Rankings after the CSU game, Colorado was given an “honorable mention”;

— In the CBS Sportsline rankings of all 128 teams, the Buffs jumped 34 spots, coming in at No. 57 after starting the year at No. 94;

— In the ESPN updated bowl projections, Colorado was listed as a possible selection for either the Cactus Bowl or the Birmingham Bowl; and

— In something called the CBS Fornelli Top 50, a ranking which starts every school at zero to open the season, and is weighted mostly to wins and losses, Colorado came in as the No. 7 team … in the entire nation.

Not bad for a school which has won five conference games in five years as a member of the Pac-12.

Continue reading essay here

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