Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 13

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. 13

September 5, 1998 – Colorado 42, No. 15 Colorado State 14 – Mile High rout in first-ever college game at Mile High

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

Ralphie IV, only 16 months old and a mere 500 pounds, made her debut as the Buffs’ mascot before a crowd of 76,036 in a sold-out Mile High Stadium and a national television audience in the first-ever college football game at Mile High Stadium. The young buffalo looked small and unsure as she made her initial run, but came through nonetheless.

The same could be said for the young Colorado Buffaloes. Only 40 of the 102 players on the Buffs’ roster had ever seen action in a college game before that warm Saturday evening. In all, 12 Colorado players made their first career starts.

Youth was served.

The Buffs dominated, roughing up the beleaguered Rams from Colorado State, 42-14. New quarterback Mike Moschetti was all that the Buffs could have hoped for, completing 21-of-32 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Even more importantly, Moschetti committed no turnovers, and provided the leadership the Buffs had been longing for.

The largest crowd to ever watch a college sporting event in the state of Colorado were on hand to witness the first neutral site game in the 105-year, 70-game history of the series between Colorado and Colorado State, and, has been the case in most of those games (53-15-2), CU came out victorious.

The Buffs, unranked in the preseason for the first time since 1988, raced out to a 13-0 lead. Two Jeremy Aldrich field goals in the first quarter were topped by a 53-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Marcus Stiggers early in the second quarter. A 36-yard touchdown pass by the Rams with just over a minute to play before halftime kept the game closer, at 13-7, than it should have been (CSU had only 67 yards of total offense in the first half).

The second half opened with another Ram touchdown, and, suddenly, the green-and-gold half of the stadium was rocking. Colorado State’s 14-13 lead, though, lasted only as long as it took for Moschetti to engineer an eight-play, 79-yard drive. Javon Green caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti with 7:05 to play in the third quarter, and the Buffs never looked back.

After a three-and-out, CU upped its advantage to 27-14 with an 82-yard punt return by red-shirt freshman Cedric Cormier. The Colorado State offense went nowhere in its next two possessions, and the Buffs put the game away after the Rams muffed a punt on their own 18-yard line. A one-yard scoring run by Dwayne Cherrington (followed by a two-point conversion run, also by Cherrington), gave CU a 35-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. A 15-play, 85-yard drive by the Buffs, taking up over half of the final stanza, resulted in a one-yard touchdown pass from Moschetti to Darrin Chiaverini to complete the rout.

The offense had many stars, headlined by junior running back Dwayne Cherrington’s 100 yards rushing, including a touchdown, and junior wide receiver Marcus Stiggers’ 100 yards receiving, highlighted by the 53-yard touchdown pass from Mike Moschetti in the second quarter for the game’s first touchdown. The defense held the Rams to a mere 202 total yards, including only 78 yards on the ground from the vaunted CSU running game.

For Rick Neuheisel, the win was a huge monkey off of his – and his team’s – back. “We are extremely proud of the way our kids played,” said the Buffs’ head coach, fresh from leading his team in the school fight song on the field after the game. “For 280 days (since Colorado’s last game, a 27-24 loss to Nebraska) we’ve had this bad taste in our mouths. Well, tonight we got a chance to spit.”

Continue reading story here, including my essay for the game, “A Mile High“, here

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 13

Quarterback Sefo Liufau (2013-16)

From the CUBuffs.com bio … He set exactly 100 school records (64 passing, 25 total offense and 11 others; 84 were outright and 16 tied) … Included among the top career marks he set were total offensive yards (10,509), passing yards (9,568) and 300-yard passing games (11) in addition to numerous single-season and game records …

Liufau was just the second player to serve as a team captain for three seasons (2014-15-16, the first since Pat Carney did in the early 1890s) … He was named the 2016 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year … Including the Alamo Bowl, he played in 42 career games with 40 starts, the most starts ever by a CU quarterback (compiling a 16-24 record) … The Pac-12 coaches named him honorable mention all-league as a senior … He was the co-recipient of CU’s Zack Jordan Award (most valuable player), was a finalist for the Male Athlete-of-the-Year for the state of Colorado by Mile High Sports Magazine and the Pac-12 Offensive player of the week for the Colorado State and Washington State games (recording CU’s second 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing game in its history in the latter) …

A two-time recipient of CU’s John Mack Award as the most outstanding offensive player (sophomore and junior seasons) …As a sophomore, he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors from the league coaches, was an honorable mention sophomore All-American by collegefootballnews.com … He earned honorable mention Freshman All-America honors and was CU’s Lee Willard Award winner as the most outstanding freshman … He was only the 10th freshman (six true, four redshirt) to ever start a game at quarterback at Colorado, and just the third frosh to lead the Buffaloes in single-season passing … He signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Thanks, Sefo

(Essay posted after the 2016 Alamo Bowl) … 

He was right there, not more than 20 feet away.

The scene: the San Antonio airport … Friday night, the day after the Alamo Bowl, around 6:15 p.m.

Two Delta flights were preparing for boarding. My flight was heading out of gate B-4, heading for Salt Lake City, the first leg on my trip back to Bozeman.

The flight heading out of gate B-3 was heading to Seattle.

In the waiting area, there were more than a few Colorado coats and sweatshirts to be seen. There were perhaps some “Shirts of Shame” being worn the day after CU had lost to No. 13 Oklahoma State, 38-8, in the Alamo Bowl, but there was still plenty of Buff Nation pride on display as well (as for me, I was wearing my “Pac-12 South Champions” sweatshirt, thank you very much!).

And he was right there, not more than 20 feet away.

The main reason the black-and-gold faithful were there in the San Antonio airport that night.

The main reason the Buffs had snapped a ten-year drought of losing campaigns. The main reason why #TheRise was more than just a slogan in the 2016 season.

He was right there, waiting for his ticket group to be called. Just another traveler, sitting around, anxious to board and get on their way home.

Sefo Liufau.

Now, I did have an “in” to go and say hello. I had met Sefo in February, when I was on a tour of the new Champions Center. Hell, I had even met his father, on a chance meeting on the shuttle train at the Denver International Airport after the Arizona State game. Both men were polite, quiet, and humble – like father; like son.

I wanted to go over to Sefo, shake his hand, and just say, “thank you”.

Thank you for all you have done for the program over the past four years.

Yes, there were many, many, records set (100 in all), but that will not be Sefo’s legacy. What Liufau brought to the CU program was a grit, a heart, a determination to overcome which seeped into the entire program.

The first three-time team captain since the 19th century.

Continue reading Essay here

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