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Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 40

Editor’s note … With the conclusion of the 2019 season, I have now put in 40 years as a Buff fan. Hard to believe, but it was August, 1980, when I first set foot on the Boulder campus as a freshman. To help celebrate my 40th season with the black-and-gold, I have compiled a list of my Top 40 favorite games, as well as my Top 40 favorite players. Each week between now and the start of Fall Camp, I will post two new games and two new players each week, leading up to my top games and top players as the Buffs begin their final preparations for the 2020 season.

As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions …

Top 40 Favorite Games … No. 40

October 13, 2001 … No. 20 Colorado 31, No. 25 Texas A&M 21 “This One’s for Fred Casotti” … 

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

Ranked for the first time in the regular season under Gary Barnett, the 20th-ranked Buffs endured a late Texas A&M rally to defeat the 25th-ranked Aggies on Homecoming weekend, 31-21.

With less than a minute to play in the game, the Aggies trailed only 24-21 and had the ball deep in CU territory.  A game-tying field goal attempt seemed imminent.  Then linebacker Joey Johnson, making his second start in place of injured star Jashon Sykes, scooped up a fumble by Aggie quarterback Mark Farris and returned the ball 52 yards for the deciding points.

With six minutes remaining, the Buffs seemed to have the game well in hand.

Up 24-14, Colorado marched the ball into A&M territory.  Taking time off the clock with a balanced attack which would net 353 yards on the afternoon, victory seemed secure.  On a third down in A&M territory, however, quarterback Craig Ochs threw an interception, giving the Aggies the ball and new life.

It took only two plays and 21 seconds for A&M to score to cut the Colorado lead to 24-21 with five minutes still remaining to play.  The Buffs were not able to run the remaining time off of the clock on their next possession, and the Aggies took over on their own nine-yard line with two minutes left.

Farris marched the Aggies quickly down the field, and had A&M on the edge of field goal range when a blitz by linebacker Kory Mossoni forced the Farris fumble.

“It was getting ugly out there for a while at the end,” Johnson said.  “We were definitely on our heels.”

Read full story here

From the essay for the game … 

Prior to the opening kickoff against Texas A&M, the 49,521 on hand for Homecoming were asked for a moment of silence in honor of Fred “The Count” Casotti, who had died the day before.  Casotti had suffered a series of strokes over the previous year, and had died from complications associated with recent setbacks.

Fred Casotti was the official historian for the University of Colorado Athletic Department.

He had first come to Boulder in the 1940’s, graduating from CU with a degree in journalism in 1949.  In 1952, after three years in his native Iowa, Fred returned to Boulder to take over as the Buffs’ sports publicity director.

He never left again.

Casotti worked for the next sixteen years in publicity, being elevated to associate athletic director in 1968 by CU head coach and athletic director Eddie Crowder.  Fred took the title of special assistant to the athletic director in 1985 under Bill Marolt, and was named the school’s official historian in 1987.  Casotti authored three books on CU football, and attended an incredible 477 CU football games.

But the numbers, as staggering as they are, do not tell the whole story.  The University of Colorado athletic department, particularly its football team, was Fred Casotti’s life.  The press box at Folsom Field had recently been named in his honor.

And I am honored to say that I knew him.

Continue reading story here

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 40

Wide receiver – Scotty McKnight – 2007-10

Scotty McKnight never posted a 1,000-yard season in his four years at the University of Colorado. McKnight never garnered All-American honors, or even All-Big 12 honors.

What McKnight did earn was the respect of his teammates. McKnight was given the John Mack Award, presented to the team’s Outstanding Offensive Player.

Three times.

No other Buff in CU history has received that honor three times.

Scotty McKnight led the Buffs in receptions four times, the first and only CU player to do so. McKnight’s stats:

  • 2007 – 43 receptions for 488 yards and four touchdowns
  • 2008 – 46 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns
  • 2009 – 76 receptions for 893 yards and six touchdowns
  • 2010 – 50 receptions for 621 yards and seven touchdowns

Playing in the final four years of Dan Hawkins era, McKnight did not receive the Big 12 or national attention he probably deserved.

But for CU fans who endured the 2007-10 seasons, McKnight is a bright memory from an otherwise dim period in Colorado football history.

The Scotty McKnight bio (from CUBuffs.com) …

He completed his Colorado career finishing first in receptions (215) and receiving touchdowns (22), while winding up third in all-time receiving yards (2,521; just 27 behind Michael Westbrook and 19 out of second). He tied for the fifth-most 100-yard receiving games with five (leader has 12), and of his 215 career catches, 122 earned first downs (51 on third and/or fourth down)…

He became the 10th player in NCAA history to catch at least one pass in every game he appeared in, and the sixth to do so without missing any games due to injury (48 games, 49 including the postseason, the NCAA active best at the conclusion of his career; the previous CU record had been 27)… He had at least two receptions in his final 19 games, just three off the team record for that mark… The 22 TD passes he caught from Cody Hawkins was also a school record for the most for a quarterback receiver duo… He also finished 17th all-time in yards from scrimmage (2,525), tied for 13th in touchdowns (23), 21st in scoring (138 points) and 23rd in all-purpose yards (2,582)… McKnight was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Jets in the 2011 draft.

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

  1. Not to move too fast…but ironically I was just thinking around this topic.
    My #1 is Cliff Branch – and I never saw him play in Boulder, I grew up 1st and foremost a Raider and my parents went to CU, so the affinity was there since day one.
    I’m sure he’s on your list, will share story when his turn comes. Looking forward to the series!

  2. We have been fortunate to have many great WRs, but only one of them looked like Scotty…i.e. normal college student. Definitely played way above his weight on some bad teams.

  3. I smiled reading your discussion of this game. After graduating from CU in 1989, this was the first game I attended as an alum. My wife and I met and married after college so Margaret had never been to CU – let alone to Folsom – until Homecoming 2001.

    We live in New Jersey. We flew out of Newark Airport on the morning of Thursday, October 11, 2001 – one month post-September 11. I had booked our trip over the summer and we were reminded at Newark Airport just how much the world had changed in the three months or so between date of booking and date of departure. I am in my early 50’s. I had no memory of ever having seen Manhattan’s skyline without the Twin Towers until we flew in/out of Newark Airport that weekend.

    Since I only bought our game tickets in either July or August, we had to sit on the A&M side of the field. Homecoming was a simply gorgeous day with Folsom bathed in sunlight. I had spent Friday walking my wife all over campus and Boulder showing her my favorite haunts from a lifetime earlier. Saturday we got over to Folsom in time for her to meet Ralphie pre-game. Somewhere, I have the pictures I took of Margaret with Ralphie.

    That evening, after the Buffs’ win, we wandered down to Pearl Street looking for dinner. We ended up in the Cheesecake Factory, of all places. Lot of A&M fans in there. We also met a family from Boston (parents and 10/11 year-old boy) who had come to CU for Homecoming to visit their older son, a freshman. While the six of us chatted in the bar, waiting for tables, the two boys and I watched the Yankees game on TV. It was Game 3 of the ALDS. Yankees down two games to none to Oakland, which had won the first two games at Yankee Stadium. This was the “Jeter Flip” game. I still remember the ear-to-ear grin on the face of the little boy watching Jeter make that play.

    I will always remember Homecoming 2001 fondly. It was the weekend when I introduced one of my favorite people to one of my favorite places. Truthfully, when we left Boulder that weekend to drive to DIA for our flight home, I did not know if/when I would see it or CU again.

    Fast forward almost twenty years and we have a son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter (#2 is on the way!) who live in Fort Collins so we get out to Colorado – and to CU – on a regular basis.

    Thanks for this memory, Stuart. Much obliged.

    1. Thanks, Adam, for your story.
      For me, the Archives are all about shared memories, and I truly appreciate hearing stories from other Buff fans!

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