Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 23

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. 23

September 29, 2007 – Colorado 27, No. 4 Oklahoma 24 – “They Think They Can Win” – Hawkins’ signature win

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

Kevin Eberhart connected on his second game-winning field goal of the month, hitting from 45 yards out with no time remaining to give Colorado a 27-24 upset win over No. 3 Oklahoma.

A homecoming crowd of 50,031 witnessed the Buffs rally from 17 points down (the fourth largest comeback in CU history) to pull off the upset. Oklahoma, which had been averaging 61.5 points and 562 yards per game, was held to just 24 points and 230 yards by a Colorado defense which more than held its own throughout the sun-filled afternoon.

For much of the game, it appeared that the Buffs would play just well enough to lose to the talented Sooners.

… “All week I told them we were going to win this game,” said Dan Hawkins after the game. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and you know when your team is ready. You know when they are poised. I was really pleased when it looked like things were getting away from us and our guys just kept coming.”

For his part, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops was complimentary. “They just really outplayed us. We got up 24-7 and then they outplayed us in a big time way the rest of the game. They outplayed us and out-coached us in the second half.”

The game statistics bore out the fact that the win was not a fluke. Colorado had more first downs than Oklahoma (19-12), more rushing yards (161-118), and more passing yards (220-112). The Buffs held the ball for almost 39 minutes, including 21 minutes in the second half. The Sooners, who had been converting third down attempts at a 52% clip for the season, were held to just one conversion in nine attempts against the Buffs. Overall, the 230-yard offensive output by Oklahoma was a full 332 yards below their season average.

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Here is a link to the YouTube video of the game …

From the Essay from the game … “They think they can win!”

These were the words were uttered by Evan towards the end of the third quarter.

Evan was my freshly minted brother-in-law (the Oklahoma game marked his and my sister’s seven-week anniversary), who was in town for a conference, and was my guest for the Oklahoma game. Evan uttered these words as the CU ground game, a non-force in the contest to that point, began to churn out yards in the drive that would bring the Buffs to within 24-17 early in the fourth quarter.

To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t even considered the thought about winning until that point.

Brad, who was also in town for the game, asked me before kickoff: “How do we win this game?”, and I had no answer. “I don’t think it’s possible,” I replied. “The numbers just don’t add up.”

And they didn’t.

Considering the Sooners had yet to score less than 51 points in a game to this point, and considering that against BCS competition (v. Arizona State and Florida State), the Colorado rushing offense had generated something like five yards total in those two games, there was serious reason to be concerned that the Buffs’ much discussed consecutive scoring streak of 226 games would be in jeopardy on Saturday.

A 42-7 rout would actually be considered something of an accomplishment.

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One view of the final play … 

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 23

Wide receiver Nelson Spruce (2012-15)

From the bio … Spruce set 41 Colorado records (37 outright, four tied) and two Pac-12 Conference records as he exited his career as the most prolific receiver in school history … Among the top records he set were career marks for receptions (294), receiving yards (3,347) and touchdown catches (23) … He finished his career as the active NCAA leader in receptions caught at least one pass in final 38 games, the second-longest streak in CU history (he had two or more in 37 of those games); he had five or more in 25 of his last 26 games … His nine 100-yard games tied for the third-most in school annals … He also had the honor of scoring the 25,000th point in school history in the 2014 season …

As a senior, Spruce earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors from both the league coaches and the Associated Press, and was named the recipient of the Zack Jordan Award as the team’s most valuable player for the second straight season … He set (or tied) 31 of those records as a junior (second-team All-Pac-12), when he was one of 10 semifinalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award; he caught 106 passes for 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns (the former and latte school single game records), as he became the first player in school history to have 100 receptions in a season, and the eighth in Pac-12 history to do so. Among his single-game marks were his 19 receptions at Cal (for 179 yards) … A first-team Academic All-Pac-12 team member as a junior and senior, and was a secondteam Academic All-American his senior year.