Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 12

Previously posted:

As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions as we count down my favorite 40 games and favorite 40 players of my 40 years as a Buff …

Top 40 Favorite Games … No. 12

January 2, 1995 – No. 4 Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24 – Bill McCartney’s final game a rout of the Irish

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

A bowl game against Notre Dame – An Afterthought, but still fitting

It would have been appropriate for Bill McCartney to go out playing for the National Championship. The 24-7 loss to Nebraska, however, eliminated the possibility, as Nebraska ran out the string and headed off to the Orange Bowl undefeated and ranked No.1 in the country. By the time the bowl matchups were announced, CU was ranked 4th, trailing only Nebraska, Penn State, and Miami. Such high standing would normally afford the Buffs a worthy New Year’s Day opponent.

The bowls, however, are run by money, not rankings.

Enter Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish carried with them to the January 2nd Fiesta Bowl the tradition of multiple National Championships and multiple Heisman Trophy winners. In 1994, they also carried with them to Tempe a 6-4-1 record. Notre Dame had been beaten by 7th-ranked Florida State, 20th-ranked Michigan, 22nd-ranked BYU, and unranked Boston College. None of the six wins by the Irish had been over teams ranked at the end of the season. Yet due to the large fan following possessed by Notre Dame, Fiesta Bowl representatives invited the Irish to be CU’s Fiesta Bowl opponent.

The matchup was still meaningful to the Buffs. CU had played Notre Dame twice for the National Championship in the previous five seasons, winning on the second attempt to claim Colorado’s first national title.

Defeating Lou Holtz and the Irish in Bill McCartney’s final game would bring a sense of closure. A win would also guarantee a top five ranking.

Not a bad way to head out the door for a man who inherited a woeful team in 1982, only to become the most successful coach in school history.

January 2nd – Fiesta Bowl          No. 4 Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24

Notre Dame teams have always been noted for overcoming the odds and winning games they are not supposed to. This tradition continued under the direction of fiery head coach Lou Holtz. With several weeks to prepare, Holtz was often able to overcome long odds. Despite the mediocre record of the Irish in 1994, the Buffs had to take Notre Dame seriously.

For a half at least.

With 1:45 remaining in the second quarter, the Fiesta Bowl scoreboard read: Colorado 31, Notre Dame 3. That the Irish were able to make the final score more respectable, at 41-24, was of little consequence to the Buffs as they won for Bill McCartney his 93rd game. McCartney was given a ride off the field on the shoulders of his players as the winningest coach in Colorado history, compiling a 93-55-5 record in 13 seasons.

The Buff players did all they could to ensure McCartney would have time to soak in the atmosphere of his final game, dominating the contest early.

Colorado kicker, Neil Voskeritchian, started the scoring with a 33-yard field goal in the first quarter, to give the Buffaloes the early 3–0 lead. Later in the 1st quarter, Kordell Stewart tossed a 1-yard pass to tight end Christian Fauria for a touchdown, and a 10–0 Colorado lead. Scott Cengia got Notre Dame on the board with a 29-yard field goal to make it 10–3.

In the second quarter Colorado sealed its win, by scoring three consecutive touchdowns. Kordell Stewart started by rushing 9 yards for a touchdown, then Rashaan Salaam scored two 1-yard touchdown runs to increase the lead to 31–3. Ron Powlus threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mayes to cut the lead to 31–10 before halftime.

Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Mayes to cut the lead to 31–17, early in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Irish would get. Voskeritchian kicked a 48-yard field goal to extend Colorado’s lead to 34–17 before Rashaan Salaam put the exclamation mark on the game with a 5-yard touchdown run, increasing Colorado’s lead to 41–17. Notre Dame scored one last time on a 7-yard pass from Powlus to Leon Wallace to provide the final margin.

Offensive MVP Kordell Stewart amassed 348 yards of total offense, 268 yards of which came in the decisive first half. Heisman trophy winner Rashaan Salaam, determined to break the jinx of former Heisman winners who faired poorly in their bowl games, rushed for a modest 83 yards, but his 27 carries included three touchdown runs. In all, CU scored on five of its first six possessions to eliminate any question on the final outcome.

Bill McCartney was emotional after the game. “I’d like to say publicly how much I appreciated having the opportunity and privilege to coach at Colorado” said the Buffs’ head coach. “I feel very humble and very appreciative. You’re going to make me choke up here. As I was going off the field, I just had so much appreciation and gratitude that I, a really average guy, should have had this extraordinary opportunity.”

McCartney left CU with an 11-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking in the final polls. His 93 wins were 16 more than the legendary Fred Folsom. With the Buffs’ appearance in the final poll, CU had now been ranked in 100 consecutive AP polls, dating back to the opening of the 1989 season. The teams’ previous best had been 32 consecutive polls, spanning the 1971-72 seasons.

Bill McCartney was always controversial, from his stand on abortion to his play-calling. His record on the field, however, is unmatched in CU history. As McCartney left center stage in Boulder to pursue the Promise Keepers, a national organization for men which exploded in popularity under McCartney’s tutelage, he kept telling anyone who would listen how thankful he was for the opportunity to coach at Colorado.

Thank you, coach.

Continue reading story here

Here is the YouTube video of the game …

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 12

Running back Rodney Stewart (2008-11)

From Stewart’s bio … He finished his career with 3,598 rushing yards, good for second on CU’s all-time list, likely winding up shy of the top spot due to missing the better part of four games with knee and ankle injuries that prevented him from catching Eric Bieniemy (3,940), his position coach as a senior… He still set nine season or career marks his senior year: most career rushing attempts (809), most career all-purpose plays (919), most career all-purpose yards (4,828—3,598 rushing, 969 receiving, 261 returns), most career yards gained from scrimmage, both overall and minimum of at least 500 yards rushing and receiving (4,567), most career receptions by a running back (93), including the mark for a single season (45), and the most season (571) and career (969) receiving yards by a running back…

Stewart also finished 10th in rushing touchdowns (25), 11th in total offense (3,635 yards) and tied for 18th in scoring (150 points) … He just missed out on becoming the 28th player in NCAA history to record 3,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a career, as he was approaching the mark before he went down with an ankle sprain early in the third quarter in the season finale at Utah …

Stewart became the first player to lead the Buffaloes in rushing for four seasons, and was just the ninth to have done it for three years in a row, one of five to have done that with at least 600 yards all three seasons … Both career passing attempts went for touchdowns (covering 37 yards, giving him a 584.5 passer rating)… He and Lamont Warren (1991-93) are the only two players to lead the team in rushing as a freshman, sophomore and junior (Warren left after the ’93 season for the NFL)… His 16 career 100-yard rushing games (season best of six in 2010) were the second most in school history (Bieniemy had 22) and were among the top six by active players in the NCAA throughout his entire senior season … His 2,744 career yards were the second most to Rashaan Salaam (3,057) through a junior year at CU … He became the first player to start a game at running back in four different seasons since Bieniemy did so from 1987-90 …

Stewart was selected by his teammates as the Zack Jordan Award winner as the team’s most valuable player for 2011 when he became the first player in CU history to lead the team in rushing (854 yards) and receptions (45), while finishing second with 571 receiving yards … Early in his senior year, he became just the 12th player in school history to record at least 500 yards both rushing and receiving for a career, and in 2011, was the first player at Colorado who accomplished that feat in a single season (he was the first player in the NCAA to accumulate at least 500 of each in 2011; only three other players did so for the entire year) … He signed as a free agent with his home-state Cincinnati Bengals after his CU career.


3 Replies to “Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 12”

  1. Yo Stuart,
    Loved that game. It helped that the game was played in same stadium that I had learned to love college football as a kid. I was there with family and friends from both Arizona and Colorado. We had an absolute blast.
    The 94 Buffs were perhaps the most talented in Colorado history. And it was a fitting farewell for the greatest coach in CU history.

    Mark / Boulderdevil

  2. I always thought Speedy Stewart could have been really successful in the NFL if he’d gone to the right team. His skills would really translate to today’s NFL.

  3. Speedy Stewart one of the all time Buffs who often gets overlooked. Good call on putting him on this list.

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