Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 4

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. 4

1994 – No. 7 Colorado 27, No. 4 Michigan 26

The “Miracle at Michigan” is one of the most memorable – and significant – games in CU history

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

While there is much to be said about the final six seconds of the 1994 Colorado/Michigan game, the set-up is equally important.

Both teams had the opportunity to dominate the game, but both fell short. Momentum swayed back and forth before 106,427 fans, the largest crowd to witness a Colorado football game in school history. Midway through the second quarter, the Buffs were putting on a show for the Wolverine faithful. Up 14-3, Colorado threatened to make the game a rout after Kordell Stewart hit Michael Westbrook on a 27-yard touchdown with 7:54 remaining in the half.

For the next two full quarters, however, the game was all Michigan.

Wolverine running back Tim Biakabutuka scored on a four yard run to pull Michigan to within 14-9 with 1:14 before halftime. Going for a two point conversion to pull the Wolverines to within a field goal of the Buffs, quarterback Todd Collins was intercepted by CU linebacker Matt Russell, preserving a five point lead for the Buffs.

The third quarter was a nightmare for the Buffs, as Michigan posted 17 unanswered points to take a 26-14 lead.

Less than five minutes into the quarter, Tyrone Wheatley capped a 62-yard drive with a six yard scoring run. A short field goal after the Buffs’ fumbled the kickoff return and a 65-yard bomb from Collins to receiver Amani Toomer gave the Wolverines their biggest advantage, 26-14, with just under three minutes remaining in the third. The Buffs were sluggish on offense, and the game appeared to be well in hand for the home team.

Now it was time for the Buffs to mount a comeback, but not before giving CU fans more reason to test their faith. After punting the ball away on its first four second half possessions (not including the James Kidd fumble after a Michigan kickoff), Colorado finally mounted a drive. Commencing with about eight minutes remaining in the game, Stewart methodically passed the Buffs down the field. After Stewart hit Michael Westbrook for nine yards down to the Michigan four yard line, the Buffs had a first-and-goal. Yes, CU was down 12 points, but now they were at point blank range, and still over five minutes remained on the game clock. Plenty of time for two scores and a victory.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

Stewart took off over the right end. Lunging for the goal line, Stewart lost possession of the ball. Stewart’s fumble was recovered by Michigan, with the Wolverines given a touchback and the ball at their 20-yard line. To add insult to injury, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against CU gave the Wolverines the ball at their 35.

“What a crusher that is”, said ABC play-by-play legend Keith Jackson. 5:08 remained, but the considered opinion of virtually everyone watching the game was that the Buffs’ chances for a comeback had just been fumbled away.

But someone forgot to tell the Buffs, especially their defense. Three runs netted Michigan four yards, but cost CU two precious time outs in an effort to stop the clock. After a short punt return by Chris Hudson, CU had the ball at their own 28-yard line.

Now the fun would begin.

3:52 remaining – Michigan 26, Colorado 14 – Colorado ball at its own 28-yard line

After two scrambles and a fumbled pitch out of bounds by Stewart, Salaam cut up the left side for 12 yards and a first down to the Buffs’ 48-yard line. “Make no mistake,” said ABC commentator Bob Greise after Salaam’s run. “There is plenty of time for the Buffaloes to score two touchdowns.” A swing pass to Salaam gave the Buffs’ another first down at the Michigan 40. Two passes to tight end Christian Fauria gave CU another first at the UM 24. 2:37 now remained in the contest. After an incomplete pass, Stewart kept the ball on an option to the left for 21 yards to the Michigan three. First and goal, Colorado. “The only way to stop this team is if they stop themselves,” noted Greise about the Buffs.

Continue reading game story here

Here is the YouTube video with highlights from the game …

Or, if you don’t have an hour, here is the Keith Jackson call of the final play …

And, a bonus, Kordell Stewart remembers … 

… And from my Essay for the game … 

CU/Michigan Post Game

“I don’t care what anyone says”, said Christian Fauria in the post-game celebration. “That was divine intervention.” There were six Michigan defenders back when CU receiver Blake Anderson jumped up for the ball with Michigan free safety Chuck Winters. The ball was tipped back up into the air before falling into the waiting arms of Michael Westbrook. “The ball hit my hand,” said Winters. “I definitely hit it”, said Anderson, the son of former CU and NFL great Dick Anderson. “Westbrook was behind me. That’s a designated play. I just went up and tipped it.”

Colorado head coach Bill McCartney didn’t believe that Stewart’s pass would even travel as far as the end zone. “I was watching our receivers”, said McCartney. “hoping for a penalty. I thought we needed some more yards.”

As for Stewart, who rated the play’s chances at “Fifty-fifty”, was seventy yards away when the ball returned to earth. “All I saw was this big muscular arm hit the ball, and then I saw somebody fall down, and then I heard the crowd get quiet, and it looked like a big old truck just swept our whole sideline onto the field.” Stewart, who on the play became Colorado’s all-time career touchdown pass leader, “tried to yell” as he ran down the field, “but my Adam’s apple kept coming up in my throat.”

“IN-CREDIBLE!!!!”

Yelling was not a problem in Bozeman, Montana.

I did not hear Keith Jackson’s words after the tipped ball fell into Westbrook’s arms as I was too busy yelling myself. At the time, my yells were heard as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado. Not because my screams could be heard 500 miles away, but because I was on the phone with Brad G. at the time. I do not remember who called who, but I do remember Brad and I commiserating on the phone as the final moments unfolded.

The call was made after the Stewart fumble, when it appeared the game had been lost. It continued as the Buffs slowly crawled back into contention, and was silent as we waited for the final gun “Last play”, we noted, fully expecting to get back to our dissection of the loss a few seconds later. Four turnovers and 102 yards in penalties had doomed the Buffs. Or so we had thought.

When Westbrook came down with the ball, I screamed at Brad, I screamed at the television. Even my wife, Lee, who was watching the game with me (albeit impatiently – the game was running long, and we were late for a party), started screaming. It was unbelievable. CU was back in the National Championship hunt!

I watched the video from the game over and over again, relishing the final play. I guess you could say that I may have watched it too many times, as several months later, during halftime of our Super Bowl party, I brought out the tape to show our guests. The worn tape broke. (Fortunately, the tear came during the portion of the tape showing Michigan’s punt with 21 seconds remaining. The important portion of the tape was preserved!).

Continue reading Essay here

 

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 4

Running Back Phillip Lindsay (2014-17)

From his CUBuffs.com bio … Largely unrecruited after tearing his ACL as a senior in high school, he proceeded to play in all 51 of CU’s games in his career (including the Alamo Bowl), with 30 starts … A two-time, second-team All-Pac-12 performer, he became Colorado’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 5,760 and yards from scrimmage 4,683 (5,926 and 4,849 including the 2016 Alamo Bowl, but CU does not include bowl stats in career numbers) …

Lindsay finished as the Buffs’ second all-time leading rusher with 3,707 yards and was the first player in CU history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons (and just the second to have two period) … With 110 receptions for 976 yards, he also set school records for the most in each by a running back; he became the 14th player to join CU’s 500/500 Club (rushing and receiving yards), narrowly missing becoming the first to hit 1,000 in both (which he did counting the bowl game, but CU does not include those numbers—for any player) …

Lindsay is the only running back in CU history to have two 100-yard receiving games (both during his junior year) … Also finished sixth in career kickoff return yardage (1,077; though he returned just one over his last two seasons) … He had 750 career rushing attempts, but just 92 yards lost on those carries … He had 11 100-yard rushing games, with two over 200 … Finished fourth on the scoring chart (234 points, second to only Eric Bieniemy by non-kickers), and also earned 234 first downs (195 rushing, 39 receiving), the most in school history by a non-quarterback … Overall, he set 24 records and tied two others in his CU career … Signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos.

 

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