Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 38

Previously posted:

As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions …

Top 40 Favorite Games … No. 38

Sept. 30, 1995 – No. 4 Colorado 38, No. 10 Oklahoma 17 – John Hessler throws for five scores in first start

From the Game Story in the CU at the Game Archives …

Koy Detmer Under the Microscope

Everyone knew shortly after the Texas A&M game was over that quarterback Koy Detmer, whose efforts over the first three games of the season had merited a “Colorado’s Detmer throws his hat into ring” Heisman-watch headline from USA Today (9/18/95), was seriously injured.

What happened?

Detmer:  “It was weird the way it happened.  I went to spin out of the pocket and take off running, but my foot was hung up in the turf and when I pushed, my knee kind of dug way in and just kind of twisted it and shifted the bones a little bit.”

A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury can be career threatening.  But how serious was Detmer’s injury?

Speculation in the media ran from the positive:  “Detmer could return in two weeks” (Buffalo Sporting News, 9/25/95), to the hopeful:  “Detmer optimistic despite knee injury” (Denver Post, 9/24/95), to the negative:  “Detmer may be out for the season” (Rocky Mountain News, 9/24/95).

What was the truth?

“It looks as though if they can brace him and stabilize the knee, he might be able to play”, reported head coach Rick Neuheisel.  “Koy is of the mind that he wants to play …. if he wants to play and is able to play, we’re excited to have him play.”  Neuheisel then added, in a remark which would come back to haunt him a few weeks later:  “If the risks (for additional injury) are significant, he won’t play.”

One issue had been decided … Detmer would not play against Oklahoma.

The job as the starting quarterback now fell to super-sub John Hessler.  Colorado would thus enter its final season as a member of the Big Eight conference with a first time starter at quarterback … on the road … at historic and raucous Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma … before a national television audience on ESPN (the fourth national television appearance in five games for the Buffs) … against the No. 10 team in the country.

An Associated Press article the week leading up to the game was headlined:  “Colorado title hopes on hold“.  If Colorado was to compete for the national and conference titles, though, there were no second chances.  Any loss from here on would severely impact the Buffs chances in the polls and in the standings.

The Buffs could look back on what head coach Rick Neuheisel had said after the Northeast Louisiana game: “You only get 11 shots.”

Fire away, John Hessler.

Sept. 30, 1995 – at Oklahoma          No. 4 CU 38, No. 10 Oklahoma 17

How did John Hessler do in the pressure-packed game before 75,004 crazed Sooner fans?

Try a new school record for touchdown passes in a game.

In an atmosphere where most Colorado fans were hoping that Hessler would produce an effort sufficient to keep the Buffs in the game, the sophomore delivered five touchdown passes to lead the Buffs to a 38-17 romp over Oklahoma.

Continue reading story here

Here are YouTube highlights from the game …

From the essay for the Oklahoma game, “Yo, Howard.  Sit Down and Shut Up” … 

Howard Schnellenberger was the coach of the Oklahoma Sooners in 1995.

He came in to Norman with plans to rebuild the Sooners as he had the Miami Hurricanes in the early 1980’s.  Schnellenberger had taken over a Miami program in 1979 which had only two winning seasons in their previous 11 campaigns.  Within four years, the Hurricanes were National Champions.

… Even though the 1994 edition of the Sooners had finished 6-6, Schnellenberger had his converts.  The media had bought into the hype, and had the 3-0 Sooners ranked 10th in the nation before the Colorado game.  Schnellenberger had even gone so far as to say that his team would rather face Detmer than Hessler in the showdown, for, as he put it, he didn’t want an asterisk next to the Sooners win “when we beat their ass.”

Continue reading story here

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 38

Quarterback Cody Hawkins – 2007-10

Cody Hawkins, like his father, Dan Hawkins, are not remembered fondly when it comes to CU lore. Dan Hawkins took a program which had won four Big 12 titles in the previous five seasons … and ran it into the ground.

Cody Hawkins was not stellar as a starting quarterback, finishing his career with an 13-20 record. That being said, I never doubted for one minute Cody’s desire to win, nor have I have ever doubted his dedication to his team. Cody Hawkins understood the game … he just didn’t have the physical tools – or the supporting cast – to make the team successful.

From the Cody Hawkins bio at … He established all the major passing records in his CU career, most notably attempts (1,214), completions (667), yards (7,409), touchdown passes (60) and interceptions (41, 14 of which were on tipped balls); he was finished his career ranked second in total offense (7,250), first in touchdowns responsible for (67) and first in 200-yard passing games (21)…

Hawkins started 33 games at quarterback, tied for the third-most in CU annals (his record as a starter was 13-20, with the 13 wins tying him for 10th on the all-time list)… He owned a 40-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone (16-to-1 as a freshman, followed by 11-to-2, 7-to-2 and then 6-to-1 as a senior)….

Hawkins also had solid numbers once reaching the opponent 40-yard line, completing 242-of-408 passes for 2,755 yards, with 53 touchdowns and 12 interceptions (153.0 rating)… He became just the second player – along with Steve Vogel (1981-84) – in CU history to start a game at quarterback in four different seasons.


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