Top 40 of the Past 40 – Honorable Mention

It’s been a fun ride, sifting through my Top 40 games and Top 40 players of my 40 seasons as a Buff fan. The No. 1 game (which you have already probably guessed), and my No. 1 player (which you can probably figure out), will be posted Sunday.

In the meantime, I would like to pay homage to some of the games and players who didn’t make the final cut. There have been thousands of players who have put in thousands of hours, not to mention their blood, sweat and tears, in bringing the Buff Nation great joy and a sense of kinship. My thanks to all.

Of those who didn’t make the final 40, here are some of the best players and games …

Top 40 Players – Honorable Mention … 

Quarterbacks – (7 on the Top 40 list)

  • Darian Hagan – No. 2
  • Kordell Stewart – No. 3
  • Sefo Liufau – No. 13
  • Joel Klatt – No. 18
  • Koy Detmer – No. 22
  • Sal Aunese – No. 31
  • Cody Hawkins –No. 38

Others (in chronological order) … 

  • Mark Hatcher … 1984-87
  • Charles S. Johnson … 1989-90
  • Steven Montez … 2016-19

Running Backs – 7

  • Eric Bieniemy – No. 1
  • Phillip Lindsay – No. 4
  • Rashaan Salaam – No. 9
  • Rodney Stewart – No. 12
  • Chris Brown – No. 20
  • Hugh Charles – No. 29
  • Bobby Purify – No. 36

Others … 

  • Lee Rouson … 1981-84
  • Lamont Warren … 1991-93
  • Herchell Troutman … 1994-97
  • Christian Powell … 2012-15

Wide receivers – 5

  • Paul Richardson – No. 7
  • Michael Westbrook – No. 10
  • Laviska Shenault – No. 14
  • Nelson Spruce – No. 23
  • Scotty McKnight – No. 40

Others … 

  • Lance Carl … 1984-87
  • Mike Pritchard … 1988-90
  • Charles E. Johnson … 1991-93
  • Rae Carruth … 1993-96

Tight Ends – 2

  • Daniel Graham – No. 6
  • Jon Embree – No. 15

Others … 

  • Dave Hestera … 1981-83
  • Christian Fauria … 1991-94
  • Joe Klopfenstein … 2002-05

Offensive Linemen – No. 30

  • I cheated a little bit here. I only listed one offensive lineman in my Top 40 … Nate Solder – No. 32

but put all of the great offensive lineman collectively as my No. 30 favorite “Player”. Some of the best of the best …

  • Jay Leeuwenburg (one of six CU unanimous All-Americans)
  • Joe Garten (one of six CU unanimous All-Americans)
  • David Bakhtiari
  • Andre Gurode (consensus first-team All-American)
  • Bryan Stoltenberg (consensus first-team All-American)
  • Heath Irwin (first-team All-American)
  • Chris Naeole (consensus first-team All-American)
  • Brad Bedell (first-team All-American)
  • Wayne Lucier (first-team All-American)
  • Eric Coyle
  • Mark Vander Poel

Defensive Lineman – 0

Others … 

  • Curt Koch … 1985-88
  • Arthur Walker … 1986-89
  • Joel Steed … 1988-91
  • Leonard Renfro … 1990 -92
  • Greg Jones … 1992-96
  • Ryan Olson … 1994-97
  • Chidera Uzo-Diribe … 2010-13
  • Jimmy Gilbert … 2013-16
  • Derek McCartney … 2014-17

Linebackers – 7

  • Alfred Williams – No. 5
  • Barry Remington – No. 8
  • Matt Russell – No. 16
  • Kanavis McGhee – No. 24
  • Chad Brown – No. 28
  • Ted Johnson – No. 33
  • Greg Biekert – No. 37

Others … 

  • Hannibal Navies … 1995-98
  • Michael Jones … 1998-2001
  • Jordon Dizon … 2004-07
  • Addison Gillam … 2013-16
  • Rick Gamboa … 2015-18

Defensive Backs – 6

  • Deon Figures – No. 11
  • Victor Scott – No. 17
  • Chris Hudson  – No. 21
  • Mickey Pruitt – No. 25
  • Ben Kelly – No. 27
  • Ahkello Witherspoon – No. 35

Others … 

  • Steven Rosga … 1992-96
  • Medford Moorer … 2000-03
  • Terrence Wheatley … 2003-07
  • Jimmy Smith … 2007-10
  • Tedric Thompson … 2013-16
  • Afodabi Laguda … 2015-17

Specialists – 4

  • Mason Crosby (K) – No. 19
  • Jeremy Bloom (KR) – No. 26
  • Jeff Campbell (KR) – No. 34
  • Barry Helton (P) – No. 39

Others … 

  • Keith English(K)… 1988
  • Tom Rouen (P) … 1989-90
  • Mitch Berger (P-K) … 1991-93
  • Roman Hollowell (KR) … 1998-2001
  • Mark Mariscal (K) … 1998-2002

Top 40 Games – Honorable Mention … 

Below is a list of games I considered for the Top 40. Some were memorable because of the defeat (the 82-42 loss to Oklahoma; Montana State in 2006); some memorable because of the game result (Ice Bowl tie with Nebraska in ’91; ’02 win over Nebraska sends Cornhuskers’ reeling); some because of the road trips taken (Nebraska in ’85 and ’06; Freedom Bowl; Orange Bowl; Fiesta Bowl; Houston Bowl).

Of course, all of the below games can be found in the CU at the Game Archives

Memorable/Notable:

  • September 27, 1980 – Indiana 49, Colorado 7 – first game; Lee Corso; SI article
  • October 4, 1980 – No. 12 Oklahoma 82, Colorado 42 – 63 records; Walter Stanley
  • October 17, 1981 – Colorado 11, Oklahoma State 10 – last minute win; not present
  • September 18, 1982 – Colorado 12, Washington State 10 – first Bill McCartney win
  • September 17, 1983 – Colorado 31, Colorado State 3 – first game since 1958
  • October 1, 1983 – Notre Dame 27, Colorado 3 – only Irish appearance in Boulder; LSAT
  • September 15, 1984 – Oregon 27, Colorado 20 – Ed Reinhardt
  • September 28, 1985 – Colorado 14, Arizona 13 – road win
  • October 26, 1985 – No. 5 Nebraska 17, Colorado 7 – road trip; quarterback out
  • December 31, 1986 – Baylor 21, Colorado 9 – road trip
  • September 17, 1988 – Colorado 24, No. 19 Iowa 21 – first win over a ranked team on the road in nine years
  • October 22, 1988 – No. 8 Oklahoma 17, Colorado 14 – first night game in CU history
  • January 1, 1990 – No. 4 Notre Dame 20, No. 1 Colorado 6 – Road game (Miami fans); Bieniemy score; late flight
  • August 26, 1990 – No. 5 Colorado 31, No. 8 Tennessee 31 – victory almost turned into defeat
  • September 6, 1990 – No. 6 Colorado 21, Stanford 17 – fourth down plunge by Bieniemy
  • October 19, 1991 – No. 22 Colorado 34, No. 12 Oklahoma 17 – two 99-yard drives give Buffs three-game streak over Sooners
  • November 2, 1991 – No. 15 Colorado 19, No. 9 Nebraska 19 – first Big 8 non-win in 19 games; Ice Bowl
  • November 9, 1991 – No. 14 Colorado 16, Oklahoma State 12 – fake field goal; Mac’s balls
  • December 28, 1991 – No. 8 Alabama 30, No. 15 Colorado 25 – new offense debuts in bowl loss
  • September 5, 1992 – No. 12 Colorado 37, Colorado State 17 – Kordell Stewart sets records in debut
  • September 19, 1992 – No. 11 Colorado 21, Minnesota 20 – Koy Detmer leads Buffs to third-largest comeback (phone tag)
  • January 1, 1993 – No. 6 Syracuse 26, No. 10 Colorado 22 – Lousy field; lost luggage
  • October 16, 1993 – No. 20 Colorado 27, No. 9 Oklahoma 10 – Play of the Year
  • October 23, 1993 – No. 16 Colorado 16, Kansas State 16 – Moving Day
  • December 25, 1993 – No. 17 Colorado 41, No. 24 Fresno State 24 – First Christmas  – Aloha Bowl
  • September 17, 1994 – No. 7 Colorado 55, No. 10 Wisconsin 17 – Salaam runs for four scores in rout over Cheeseheads
  • October 1, 1994 – No. 5 Colorado 34, No. 16 Texas – Salaam goes for 317 as Buffs back up big win at Michigan
  • October 15, 1994 – No. 4 Colorado 45, No. 22 Oklahoma – Big win gives CU a 5-0-1 run over Sooners
  • October 28, 1995 – No. 2 Nebraska 44, Colorado 21 – ESPN GameDay on hand
  • November 18, 1995 – No. 9 Colorado 27, No. 7 Kansas State 17 – Buffs finish 2nd in Year One under Neuheisel; Hessler drive
  • December 30, 1996 – No. 8 Colorado 33, No. 13 Washington 21 – Good result – last win over Washington until 2019
  • September 13, 1997 – No. 14 Michigan 27, No. 8 Colorado 3 – Brad’s wedding
  • September 27, 1997 – No. 16 Colorado 20, Wyoming 19 – Catching up with Buffs from Syracuse
  • October 4, 1997 – No. 21 Texas A&M 16, No. 16 Colorado 10 – Yell Practice in Denver
  • December 31, 1999 – Colorado 62, No. 25 Boston College 28 – Buffs rout Eagles on final day of the decade; millennium
  • 1996-2000 CU/Nebraska game – five losses to Nebraska by a total of 15 points
  • September 21, 2002 – Colorado 31, No. 20 UCLA 20 – 99-degree heat; last road win over ranked team until 2019
  • November 9, 2002 – No. 18 Colorado 42, Missouri 35 (OT) – Chris Brown goes for 200; “fastest I have ever crawled”
  • November 29, 2002 – No. 13 Colorado 28, Nebraska 13 – Buffs’ win in Lincoln … number of (negative) Nebraska records set
  • September 6, 2003 – No. 24 Colorado 16, UCLA 14 – Dorrell, Embree, and Bieniemy return to Boulder
  • October 11, 2003 – Colorado 50, Kansas 47 (OT) – Canadian Thanksgiving as both teams blow double-digit lead
  • November 8, 2003 – Colorado 21, No. 22 Missouri 16 – Long drive contest – teams; Barnett; Lee from Canada
  • November 6, 2004 – Colorado 30, Kansas 21 – “Why Not Us?” – Buffs making unlikely run to Big 12 North title
  • September 2, 2006 – Montana State 19, Colorado 10 – “One of the worst losses in CU history”
  • September 23, 2006 – No. 9 Georgia 14, Colorado 13 – Long Bus Ride; CU at the Game goes public
  • November 24, 2006 – No. 23 Nebraska 37, Colorado 14 – Seeing red – Kansas City/Lincoln road trip
  • October 6, 2007 – Colorado 43, Baylor 23 – Road win … from New England
  • September 11, 2009 – Toledo 54, Colorado 38 – Embarrassment at the Glass Bowl
  • November 6, 2010 – Kansas 52, Colorado 45 – Dead Dan Walking
  • September 24, 2011 – Ohio State 37, Colorado 17 – Road Trip – “We have a long way to go as a program”
  • November 25, 2011 – Colorado 17, Utah 14 – One for the Road – Hope for the future
  • September 8, 2012 – Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28 – The Shirt of Shame
  • September 15, 2012 – Fresno State 69, Colorado 14 – Five Stages of Grief
  • September 22, 2012 – Colorado 35, Washington State 34 – “Never Give In” – Road trip for only win of 2012 season
  • September 6, 2014 – Colorado 41, Massachusetts 38 – A Close Shave at Gillette
  • September 19, 2015 – Colorado 27, Colorado State 24 (OT) – A Matter of Trust
  • October 24, 2015 – Colorado 17, Oregon State 13 – Road Trip – Buffs end losing streaks – We’re No. 1(1)!
  • September 2, 2016 – Colorado 44, Colorado State 7 – “Welcome to the Fight!”
  • October 15, 2016 – Colorado 40, Arizona State 16 – First-ever win over ASU makes a statement
  • August 31, 2018 – Colorado 45, Colorado State 13 – Coming out Party for Laviska Shenault in rout
  • October 6, 2018 – No. 21 Colorado 28, Arizona State 21 – Laviska Shenault scores all four touchdowns
  • August 30, 2019 – Colorado 53, Colorado State 31 – Buffs post win in Mel Tucker debut
  • November 9, 2019 – Colorado 16, Stanford 13 – Buffs break five game losing streak
  • November 23, 2019 – Colorado 20, Washington 14 – Buffs first win over Huskies since joining Pac-12

Did I miss anything? … 

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6 Replies to “Top 40 of the Past 40 – Honorable Mention”

  1. I would like to give a shout out to Dennis Havig. He went on to play in the NFL. He wont remember me but we had a few beers together. One time we were walking somewhere on the east side of campus when a hippie appeared and started baiting him….calling him all kinds of disgusting names obviously trying to get Dennis to punch him so he could tell the police and everyone else what an animal football players are. I offered to leave the squirrel bleeding on the pavement but Dennis said no, told the hippie whatever the equivalent of “have a nice day” was back in those days and we kept on walking.

  2. I think that you did a very good job. The only guys that I thought may have broke the Top-40 are Pritchard, Dizon, and Joel Steed.

  3. Wow, no Strickland at DB in honorable mention? Guy was clutch in big moments. Ask KSU or NU about Strick at the goal line, he had a knack for big plays. Maybe not the ‘best’ at position, but should be in your ‘favs’

  4. Are these your 40 favorites or 40 best players in your opinion? If the latter it is hard for me to understand how Mike Pritchard could be off a list that includes the likes of Cody Hawkins or Scotty McKnight. Don’t get me wrong I like both of those guys, but based on pure football talent, those 2 can’t hold a candle to Pritchard. In my humble opinion. It has been Fun reading regardless. Thank you.

    1. These are my 40 favorites, which of course makes it subjective. No doubt, Mike Pritchard was one of the most dynamic players in CU history, and is part of some of the most memorable highlights in CU history. If I could go back to last December, when I first put together the list, I would probably include Pritchard. But it’s not always about talent for me. Mike Pritchard was fun to watch, but he also played behind one of the best offensive lines in CU history, and played with the likes of Hagan and Bieniemy in the backfield … which certainly took some of the pressure off. Hawkins and McKnight played on terrible teams, but still produced. If they had played with more talented teams, they would have better highlight packages in our memory banks.

      I appreciate your comments, and I don’t argue that Pritchard belongs on the list. It was my hope that the list would spark discussion. So, in that respect, Mission Accomplished1

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