Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 2 – Down to my second favorite game and second favorite player!

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. 2

November 23, 2001 … No. 14 Colorado 62, No. 2 Nebraska 36

From the Game Story in the CU at the Game Archives … Nebraska – Pre-game”

Everyone who knows me knows that when it comes to CU football games, I am a “glass is half empty” fan.  I can usually find a dozen reasons to worry about any opponent the Buffs face.  If you had asked me the week of the San Jose State game whether I was concerned, I would have countered with details of a  team with a Heisman candidate in Deonce Whittaker and a 7-5 2000 record.  The best you can usually get out of me before a game in terms of a prediction is that I am “cautiously optimistic”.

For some reason, though, the Nebraska game was different.  Where the confidence came from, I can’t say, but I just knew the Buffs were going to win.  Before I left Bozeman for the game, I asked my wife, Lee, to tape the game.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s, when the Buffs were just re-entering the national stage, and seeing the Buffs on television was still something of a novelty, I taped a number of games.  Since the ‘94 season, though, I hadn’t taped a single game.  For some reason, though, I knew before I left Montana that I wanted a tape of this game.

My outward confidence continued on gameday.  At a tailgate party before the game, Randy and I caught up with fellow season ticket holders Brad and Scott.  Scott is my opposite when it comes to predictions.  For him, the glass is always half full.  When he asked for my prediction, he was shocked at my answer.  “That’s the kiss of death”, he muttered, certain that my change of attitude would doom the Buffs.

Perhaps my greatest show of confidence came as we were walking into the stadium.  Friends Tony and Julie were also going to the game, but the tickets I had obtained for them were in the bowl of the stadium.  Tony asked where we should meet after the game.  “The twenty-yard line”, I responded.  When asked to repeat my response, I assured Tony he had heard correctly.  “The twenty-yard line”, I repeated.  Thirty minutes before kickoff, I was so confident that the Buffs would not only win, but that we would be able to participate in the post-game celebration down on the field, that I didn’t allow for any additional possibilities.

It would be up to the Buffs to make me a prophet.

 November 23rd – Boulder      No. 14 Colorado 62, No. 2 Nebraska 36

The Colorado Buffaloes exorcised a decade’s worth of demons in one afternoon as the Buffs demolished the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 62-36, before a raucous crowd of 53,790 and a national television audience. No. 14 Colorado scored early and often against the nation’s No. 2 ranked team (No. 1 in the BCS standings), posting the highest point total ever allowed by a Nebraska team.

Chris Brown rushed for 198 yards and a school record six touchdowns to lead the long list of Buff heroes.  Bobby Pesavento completed only nine passes, but they went for 202 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Graham.  To compliment Chris Brown, Bobby Purify rushed 20 times for 154 yards and a score.  In all, Colorado put up 582 yards of total offense, including 380 yards on the ground against a defense which had been allowing only 93 yards/game entering the contest.

First Half

In the most recent Colorado/Nebraska games, it was the Cornhuskers who habitually started quickly.  In fact, in the past 11 games between the Buffs and the Cornhuskers, Nebraska had scored a touchdown within the first four minutes of game time a mind-numbing seven times.  For the Buffs, who had lost the last five games to Nebraska by a total of only 15 points, a quick start was imperative.

Mission accomplished.

Nebraska took the opening kickoff, and on the first play from scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Sean Tufts tackled Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch behind the line for a three-yard loss.  Two plays later, the Cornhuskers were forced to punt.

Advantage, Colorado.

On third down after taking possession, the Buffs hit on what may have been the most important play of the early going.  Bobby Pesavento hit wide receiver Matt Brunson for a 26-yard completion to the Cornhusker 39-yard line.  The play was significant as the Buffs, rather than give the ball back to the Nebraska offense, kept the ball and the early momentum.  On the very next play, Bobby Purify dashed up the middle through a gaping hole for a 39-yard touchdown.  7-0, Colorado.  12:17 left in the first quarter.

What happened next to the Cornhuskers was – in a sense – familiar.  The wheels fell off.  What was unfamiliar to Nebraska and its fans was that this time, instead of jumping all over an intimidated opponent, it was the opponent which was taking advantage of the Big Red’s mistakes.

On the Cornhuskers’ next possession, running back Dahrran Diedrick fumbled.  It took the Buffs all of one play to score, with Bobby Pesavento hitting Daniel Graham for a 21-yard score.  14-0, Colorado.  11:47 still to play in the first quarter.

After driving to midfield on the ensuing drive, Nebraska went for a fourth-and-one.  Eric Crouch slipped and fell behind the line of scrimmage, giving possession back to the Buffs.  Pesavento promptly hit Graham on a 49-yard pass, and two plays later Pesavento did the honors from a yard out.  21-0, Colorado.  5:35 still remaining on the first quarter clock.

A long kickoff return set up a Nebraska field goal, giving the Cornhuskers and their fans some sense of normalcy.  Then the Buffs turned to Chris Brown, and two drives later, Brown had two scores. Both drives needed only five plays to cover 80 yards, with Brown’s touchdowns (the first from 12 yards out, the second from the one), giving Colorado a commanding 35-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Continue reading story here

From my Essay for the Game … “Down on the Field”

I had not been down on the grass of Folsom Field since the new turf had been laid in 1999.  I had not been down on the field to celebrate a CU win in over a decade.

It felt great to be back.

It took some time to get down to the floor of the stadium.  The students rushed the field as the final seconds ticked off, making quick work of the goal posts.  For us in the 79th row, though, there would be a wait.

No one moved towards the exits.  No one moved at all.

We just stood and watched. And yelled.  And savored.

By the time the four of us – Randy, Brad, Scott, and myself – made it to the stadium floor, many of the celebrants had moved on.  That was fine with us.  I took a run out to the 20-yard line, where I had told Tony and Julie to meet us, just to stomp the grass.  It felt wonderful.  Tony and Julie weren’t there, having more sense than the four of us than to fight there way down to the field, but we did take the time to have our pictures taken with the scoreboard in the background.  (On seeing the pictures later, my wife Lee couldn’t help but remark how the grins on our faces made us look as if we were convinced that we had dispatched the hated ‘Huskers ourselves).

Big smiles all around after the game!
Big smiles all around after the game!

It was sweet.  We caught up with Tony and Julie at the site of our tailgate party, and the celebration began anew with the group assembled there.  Whereas the win over CSU almost three months earlier had brought a sense of relief, this win brought nothing but joy.  62 points – against Nebraska!  It couldn’t possibly get any sweeter than that!  Big 12 North champions after going 3-8!

The bad weather predicted for the game had never materialized.  It was cool, but pleasant.  Still, it was late November, and the sun was long gone.  After a quick beer and a few hugs, it was time to move on.  Everyone was hungry, so we were off to dinner and more celebration.

As we left the tailgate party, we walked in front of my old dorm, Libby Hall, just a few hundred feet from the stadium.  I paused for a moment as the group started off for the parking lot.  I looked back at the now nearly quiet stadium, brightly illuminated by flood lights.  An occasional whoop or holler cut through the night.  I heard a honk of a horn, but somehow I just knew it was a celebratory sound, not one made in anger.  How could anyone be impatient at a time like this?

Final score: 62-36. I just wanted to soak it in for a moment longer. I closed my eyes. I felt a smile cross my face. It was perfect.

Through the cool night air I heard Brad call my name. I opened my eyes and hurried to catch up with my friends.

Game Notes:

Where to start?

Records set by Colorado as a Nebraska opponent

(some of these records have been surpassed since 2001):

Most points: 62 (old record, 61, Minnesota, 1945)

Most points in a half by an opponent: 42 (38, UCLA, 1988)

Most points in a quarter by an opponent: 28 (28, UCLA, 1988)

Most touchdowns by an opposing team: 9 (8, Oklahoma, 1954, 1956)

Most touchdowns by an opposing player (Chris Brown): 6 (5, Steve Owens, OU, 1968)

CU records set against any opponent:

Most touchdowns, rushing, game: 6, Chris Brown (old record 4, on 11 occasions)

Most touchdowns, game: 6, Chris Brown (4, on 13 occasions)

Most points scored, game: 36, Chris Brown (27, Byron White v. Colorado Mines, 10/30/37)

Most touchdowns rushing, team, game: 8 (tied record – three times. Latest v. KSU, 11/18/89)

CU records set in Colorado/Nebraska series (60 games up to 2001):

Most points: 62 (36, 11/15/51)

Most yards, total offense: 552 (504, 11/26/99)

Most yards rushing, individual: 198, Chris Brown (165, Rashaan Salaam, 10/30/93)

Most yards receiving, individual: 112, Daniel Graham (107, Phil Savoy, 11/28/97, Donnie Holmes, 10/9/82)

In case you haven’t gotten enough, here are the video highlights:

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 2

Quarterback Darian Hagan (1988-91)

From his CUBuffs.com bio … A first-team All-American as a sophomore in 1989 by The Sporting News, when he earned third-team honors from the Associated Press (and honorable mention from UPI)… He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, when he was the first Buff and just the sixth player at the time in NCAA history to record 1,000 yards for the season in both rushing and passing… The first-team All-Big Eight quarterback in 1989, as well as the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year… A two-time winner of the Zack Jordan Award as Colorado’s most valuable player (selected by his teammates his sophomore and senior years)…

Hagan placed 17th in the Heisman voting as a junior in ’90 (when teammate Eric Bieniemy was third)… The first time he called his number as CU’s starting quarterback in 1989, he raced 75 yards to the 1-yard line against Texas in CU’s 27-6 win… Bounced back to play as a senior despite suffering a torn knee ligament late in the first half of the ’91 Orange Bowl… Finished his career as CU’s second all-time leader passer (3,801 yards), with his 137.6 rating the best at the time… His 2,007 rushing yards were and remain the most by a quarterback in CU history… He had nine career 100-yard rushing and three career 200-yard passing games…

Hagan compiled a 28-5-2 record as CU’s starting quarterback, including a 19-0-1 mark in Big Eight Conference games… Was allowed to return punts as a senior to showcase his other abilities for the NFL, and ranked 19th in the NCAA (11.5 average)… A ninth round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1992 NFL draft (242nd pick overall)… Played five seasons in the Canadian Football League with Toronto (1992-93), Las Vegas (1994) and Edmonton (1995-96)… Inducted into CU’s Athletic Hall of Fame (class of 1999) and into the state of Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2014… He is in his second run as an assistant coach at CU (2005-10, 2016-present), as he moved into recruiting and player development in-between stints.

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2 Replies to “Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 2”

  1. If I could choose any day of my life to be a “Groundhog day” to live over and over, 62-36 may be the front runner, and certainly in the top three. It definitely provides some of my favorite family memories, and is without a doubt my favorite sporting event ever.

    I was eleven years old, from a town out in northeast Colorado that was filled with arrogant Husker fans. I had taken their shit for years; no matter how good my family’s buffs seemed to be, they could never get past the Huskers and their sanctimonious fanbase. I got shit at school all week. They, while still claiming a faux-moral superiority, constantly reminded me I wasn’t even alive for the last time the Buff’s beat the Huskers (they were wrong; I was a newborn for the rain game in Lincoln, but since when did a Husker fan care about being factually wrong?). Those twerps believed the game was over before it even started. We all know what happened next.

    I remember the energy just crackled that day. I had been to plenty of CU games before, but the air just felt different and special. Folsom was swarming and I knew every black and gold clad fan in the stadium believed CU was a good team, and perhaps even a great team that had a very real shot at taking down the BCS #1.

    As my family made our way through the masses of people in the field house, trying to desperately find a spot to stand and watch the Colorado band come through, I became separated from my parents. I was young, and fairly unaccustomed to crowds, so I remember this as being scary as hell. I was lost for a solid 15 minutes, and there were big red bastards sneering everywhere I turned. I was the “crying Colorado kid” before the game, until the CU fight song started blasting, synchronously with my dad finding me and scooping me up. I was expecting him to scold me for getting lost as soon as the band stopped playing, but all he said was “I was worried you weren’t going to get to see what’s about to happen!”

    Although I had always been a Buff fan, I count the 1999 game against the Husker’s as the game where I truly became connected to CU football. I didn’t have a strong interest in sports until that game. The way the team rallied, and fell just short of taking down the Nebraska that year, broke my heart and made me so incredibly angry and certain of one thing: that I’d be there for when the Buffs took out the Huskers after however many years of frustration it would be. Luckily, the catharsis came sooner rather than later. The resilient Buff squad, led by so many great, likable players, absolutely dominated Nebraska on that day. I don’t need to explain what happened that day to anyone here; even fans from other programs recognize this game as one of the most fully-certified, noteworthy ass whippings in the history of college football. There was straight jubilation for a solid four hours, and I was reeling all the way into the next season and then some. I still get chills thinking about how fun, how awesome and incredible this game felt. I love how relentlessly we went about burying them in the first quarter; I love how we stifled their attempt at a comeback and laid it back on them, two-fold. Chris Brown was such a star that day that it overshadows brilliant performances by Dan Graham, Purify, and Pesavento, plus a defense that rose up to make key play after key play. I wish I’d been old enough to rush the field. I can’t imagine a sporting event yielding a better feeling than this one.

    I honestly have no idea what number 1 is going to be. I have to be overlooking something big. It has to be something before my time. I can’t remember if the 1986 game against Nebraska is on here or not, but that’s about the only one I could imagine. Great list, I have loved reading every entry!!

    1. Thanks, Chris, for your great story. I very much appreciate you sharing your memories of 62-36.
      There are many “best parts” to the CU at the Game website for me, but none greater than hearing the stories from other Buff fans.
      You made my day!!

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