Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 5 – We’ve reached the Top Five!!

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. 5

1990 – No. 9 CU 27, No. 3 Nebraska 12

Eric Bieniemy scores four fourth quarter touchdowns to lead Buffs to first win in Lincoln since 1967.  How sweet it was!

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

For three quarters, the Nebraska Cornhuskers kept the Colorado offense at bay.  For three quarters, Nebraska looked to be national championship contenders.  For three quarters, Eric Bieniemy, the nation’s leading rusher, played so poorly it appeared he would be the goat of the game.

Unfortunately for the Cornhusker faithful, the fourth quarter was played.

At the end of the third quarter, the scoreboard read: Nebraska 12, Colorado 0.  The Buffs were on the verge of being shutout for the first time since Nebraska turned the trick two years earlier in Lincoln.  Eric Bieniemy had fumbled four times, losing three on the cold and rainy afternoon.  “I was frustrated, disgusted, you name it,” said Bieniemy.  “It was just basically a lack of concentration.”

With the start of the final quarter, though, the Buffs had the wind at their backs; the season on the line.

Down 12-0 after Nebraska scored late in the third quarter on a 46-yard pass from Mickey Joseph to Johnny Mitchell, the Buffs took off on their first extended drive of the game. Marching 71 yards, Bieniemy scored from a yard out to cut the Nebraska lead to 12-7. Biemiemy’s run was just the second rushing touchdown allowed by the Cornhuskers all season.  “It all came down to this play,” said Bill McCartney.  “The offense created a new line of scrimmage, and Bieniemy went over.”

But Bieniemy was just getting started.

After the Colorado defense forced a Nebraska punt, the Buffs drove down the field again, keyed by a 34-yard pass from Darian Hagan to Mike Pritchard.  Facing a fourth down at the Nebraska two-yard line, Bieniemy again did the honors.  The senior tailback’s second touchdown of the quarter gave the Buffs a 13-12 lead with 8:37 to play (a two-point conversion pass failed).

Continue reading game story here

Hall of Famer Alfred Williams remembers

In 2010, Colorado linebacker Alfred Williams was selected to become a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. When asked about his favorite memories about being a Buff, Williams told about his memories of Bieniemy and the fourth quarter comeback against Nebraska:

“I sat next to him on the bench at Nebraska after he had fumbled three or four times,” Williams recalled.  “We had the ball, but it was one of those rare times he wasn’t in the game.  He didn’t want to hear much and kind of wanted to be left alone, his head hanging a bit, but there was a moment where he looked me in the eye, and I told him we’ll get you the ball back for the offense and for him to go out there and do his thing.  He scored four times in the fourth quarter, and after the first score, we met at the 25-yard line and high-fived each other.”

From the CU at the Game Essay for the game, Orange Bowl … and more? … Buffs back from the Brink”

With the win, Colorado vaulted back into the national spotlight.  Almost certain of returning to the Orange Bowl as the Big Eight champions (all the Buffs had left were home games against 3-6 Oklahoma State and 5-4 Kansas State), Colorado was ranked No. 4 in the next poll.  Five voters even tabbed the Buffs as the No. 1 team in the nation, despite the loss and the tie.

The race for the Orange Bowl seemingly had been decided on a cold and rainy field in Lincoln, Nebraska.  It was now up to the fates and a little luck for Colorado to have a chance at a national title.

At 1-1-1 after the Illinois loss, the Colorado season was on the brink.  Ranked 20th and facing two ranked teams over the next two weeks, the glitter of the 1989 season had seemingly all worn off.  There was the very real possibility that Colorado would, in late 1990, being playing just for a winning season and a bowl bid.  But after the Illinois loss, the 1990 Buffs refused to lose.

“I think what we’re talking about here is a group of guys who won’t be beat, can’t be beat,” said McCartney after the Nebraska win.  Down 12-0, facing a tough Nebraska defense and adverse weather conditions (37-degree day, with rain turning to snow in winds which gusted up to 25 mph), the Buffs still prevailed.

And just as the Cornhuskers were seemingly punished for their light schedule by the pollsters, the Buffs were now seemingly being rewarded for their tough slate of games.  A No. 4 ranking positioned the Buffs for a late season title run, but again other teams were helping to make it possible. While Colorado was coming back to defeat Nebraska, No. 1 Virginia fell out of the top ten after losing, 41-38, to No. 16 Georgia Tech. No. 4 Auburn finally was beaten, being blasted by No.15 Florida, 48-7. 5th-ranked Illinois, which had handed the Buffs their only loss on the year, was crushed by No. 13 Iowa, 54-28.

All that stood now between the Buffs and a No.1 ranking was the new No.1  team in the nation, Notre Dame (7-1), No.2 Washington (8-1, with its only loss to Colorado), and No.3 Houston (8-0), the sole remaining unbeaten and untied team in the national rankings.  The only other team without a loss was Georgia Tech, 7-0-1 after knocking off Virginia to move from No.16 to No. 7 in the polls.

Continue reading Essay here

The YouTube video of the Game … 

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 5

Linebacker Alfred Williams (1987-90)

From his bio … A unanimous first-team All-American as a senior in 1990 from all seven recognized organizations by NCAA, and a consensus first-teamer as a junior in 1989 (all but the Associated Press and The Sporting News, though AP did name him second-team)… A Playboy Preseason All-American prior to his senior year… He became the first University of Colorado player to win a postseason trophy when he was honored with the Butkus Award as the nation’s most outstanding linebacker his senior season (1990)… A two-time first-team All-Big Eight Conference performer as a junior and senior, he was also the Big Eight’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year both those seasons… Had 88 tackles, 21 for losses as a senior and 81 and 16, respectively, as a junior… In the final regular season game of his career against Kansas State, he lined up a couple of plays on offense and caught a pass for 17 yards in the 64-3 blasting of the Wildcats…

Williams ended his career as and remains CU’s all-time quarterback sack leader (35 for 242 yards), but only had as many as three sacks in a game just once… Also CU’s all-time leader in tackles for loss (59 for 303 yards)… A two-time winner of the Dave Jones Award, given to the outstanding defensive player as voted by the coaches (1989, 1990)… The national defensive player-of-the-week as a sophomore for his mini-career in a CU win at Iowa: seven solo tackles, four for losses including two sacks, a forced fumble and a recovery, a pass deflection and a blocked punt… An honorable mention member of CU’s All-Century team, selected in 1989… Joined CU’s basketball team for a brief stint between his junior and senior seasons; he played in one game, but didn’t want to risk his football future (he had a rebound and a steal in a loss at Kansas)…

A first round selection by Cincinnati in the 1991 NFL Draft (18th overall)… He played his first four years with the Bengals (1991-94; he was in on 161 tackles including 261/2 quarterback sacks)… He then moved on to San Francisco for one season (1995) before spending the last four years of his career with Denver, where he won two Super Bowl rings in 1997 and 1998… He registered 281/2 sacks during his time in Denver, including 13 in 1996… An All-Pro defensive end in 1996… He played in 128 career NFL games, racking up 591/2 quarterback sacks and one fumble return for a touchdown… Inducted into the CU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, and became the fifth Buffalo to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010… Now a Denver radio personality


One Reply to “Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 5”

  1. Announcers at the end “This would be a great year for a playoff… it will come in the next five years, no doubt about it.”

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