Top 40 of the Past 40 – No. 9

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. 9

September 29, 1990 – No. 20 Colorado 20, No. 12 Washington 14 – Deon Figures saves the day

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

In a battle between two ranked teams in search of national recognition, Colorado held off a late Washington drive to defeat the Huskies in Boulder, 20-14. A defensive first half gave way to a flurry of scoring in the third quarter, with the game ending with the Colorado defense backed up against its goalline. Sophomore cornerback Deon Figures intercepted a Mark Brunell pass in the endzone with only :59 left to play to preserve the Colorado win.

The first drive of the contest was all Washington, as the Huskies took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 15 plays to post a 7-0 lead. The Washington drive consumed 8:35 of the first quarter, keeping the football away from the explosive Buff offense until only 6:25 remained in the opening stanza. The Washington score made Colorado opponents in 1990 a perfect five-for-five – in each game the Buffs’ opponent scored first.

All Colorado could muster in the first half on offense was a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter by Jim Harper. Fortunately for the Buffs, the Colorado defense stymied the Husky offense the remainder of the half, limiting Washington to only 21 yards after the impressive opening drive.

The halftime score was 7-3, Washington.

The second half proved to be a different game, as the Colorado offense netted 204 yards of offense in the third quarter alone (more than both teams had mustered in the first half combined). The Buffs turned an 80-yard drive in eight plays into a go-ahead touchdown, with Darian Hagan scoring from 15 yards out to give the Buffs their first lead of the day at 10-7. Any hopes Buff fans had that the Washington offense would continue to be stymied, though, were quickly quashed, after Washington answered with a 10-play, 65-yard drive of its own. A 40-yard pass from Mark Brunell to Mario Bailey ate up much of the yardage. 14-10, Washington.

Colorado took the lead for good on its next possession, going 80 yards in just six plays. A 35-yard pass from Hagan to Mike Pritchard set up a three-yard Hagan run and a 17-14 Colorado lead. Jim Harper’s second field goal of the afternoon, this time from 32 yards out with 13:05 to play, gave Colorado a 20-14 lead. Harper’s score though, came with a bit of trickery. In punt formation in Buff territory – and with only a 17-14 lead – punter Tom Rouen passed to reserve linebacker Paul Rose for a 24-yard gain and a drive-sustaining first down. “I thought it was great,” said Rouen. “I always wanted to throw the football, and I finally got the opportunity.”

No more points would be scored by either squad, but the Colorado faithful could not rest until the final minute. “I just remember thinking it wasn’t over, said Colorado offensive lineman Ariel Solomon. “You just knew something was going to happen.” After Darian Hagan suffered a shoulder sprain early in the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Charles Johnson directed a drive deep into Washington territory, but the drive ended with a fumble.

Two Washington drives were thwarted by Colorado interceptions inside the Buff 20-yard line. The second by Figures was the most dramatic, as it sealed the Colorado win with under a minute to play and Washington zeroing in on the Colorado goalline. (More on the final drive in the essay portion of the recap).

“That was an outstanding football team we beat,” said Bill McCartney. “I’m real proud of our guys.”

With the victory, Colorado had escaped the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 3-1-1 record. Not the result the Buffs and their fans had envisioned coming off of an 11-1 campaign, but not a disaster, either. “Coach Mac had a board on the wall with every game on the season on it,” said Solomon. “After that slow start, he broke the season down for us. He told us we had to take it game by game. He said our dreams and aspirations weren’t over. He told us to take his word for it – they weren’t over.”

Continue reading story here

From the Essay for the Game, “Best Seats in the House”
 In 1990, our tickets were not the best. Not even close.

For the Colorado/Washington game, we were in the north end zone of Folsom Field. For those too young to remember, in the pre Dal Ward upgrade days, there were wooden bleachers in the north bleachers, and they were falling apart. The boards upon which we were to rest our feet were weakened to the point where we were afraid to stand on them. These were seats normally set aside for visiting fans. If enough tickets were returned by the visitors, though, they were available for “financially challenged” alumni.

Guess which category Brad and I fell into in 1990?

The entire afternoon was tense. Watching Washington methodically march down the field to take a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening drive was disheartening at best. With the Buffs up late in the game, the Huskies set off on a similar drive. As the fourth quarter clock dwindled, Washington kept the ball on the ground, punishing the tired Colorado defense. A Washington touchdown to win the game seemed inevitable, and it would take place right in front of us in the north stands.

Then the improbable happened.

Continue reading essay here

Top 40 Favorite Players … No. 9

Running back Rashaan Salaam

From his bio …He won the first Heisman Trophy in Colorado history, claiming the 60th annual award as a junior in 1994, easily winning by some 248 votes and 842 points… The fifth unanimous All-American in Colorado history that season, as he became just the fourth player in college football history at the time to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season… In setting the single-season CU rushing mark with 2,055 yards, he did not play in five fourth quarters and on two other occasions, he played only briefly in the third quarter; over half of the yards (1,040) came against ranked opponents…

Salaam a school scoring mark that same year with 24 touchdowns for 144 total points… He reeled off nine consecutive 100-yard games in 1994, including four 200-plus yard games (both school records)… Ended his career as only the second Buff to exceed 3,000 career rushing yards (3,057)… In CU’s miraculous 27-26 win at Michigan in 1994 that became known as “The Catch,” he accomplished two significant things: his 141 rushing yards were the most by an opponent player in the Big House in 21 seasons, and he helped Tony Berti keep a defender at bay with a key block, freeing Kordell Stewart to unload the game-winning 64-yard pass to Michael Westbrook as time expired… A week later, he rushed for 317 yards in extreme heat in a 34-31 win at Texas, the second highest single-game total in CU history (he set the mark for the most yards gained from scrimmage with 362 as he also had 45 receiving)…

First-team all-Big Eight player in both 1993 and 1994… Put 165 yards rushing on Nebraska as a sophomore after missing just one game with a painful orbital eye fracture… Rushed for 135 yards and three TDs in being named CU’s MVP in the ’93 Aloha Bowl… His father, Harold “Teddy” Washington, played freshman football for Colorado in 1963 before transferring closer to home to San Diego State… He opted to turn professional following his junior season (he made the announcement minutes after CU defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl), he was a first round pick by Chicago in the 1995 NFL Draft (21st overall)… He played three seasons for the Bears (1995-97), winning the NFC Rookie-of-the-Year honor in 1995 when he rushed for 1,074 yards and 10 TDs… Had career numbers of 1,682 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns for the Bears… He also played briefly with Cleveland and Green Bay in 1999… Knee and ankle injuries hampered his career (he underwent an ankle reconstruction), and made one final go of it with San Francisco in 2003… Inducted into CU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 and was on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame for the first time in 2014… He passed away on Dec. 5, 2016 at the age of 42.


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