Dave Plati’s Top Three Game Five’s

Plati-‘Tudes Short No. 5 … The fifth installment of CU’s best or most exciting football games in its history as to when they occurred in week five of any season.  We’re running these over the next three months on our “Throwback Thursdays” — many are obvious, a few obscure, and no doubt some up for debate.  The best game fives in our history in my humble opinion:

GAME 5’s

#1—1967: Colorado 21, Nebraska 16 at Lincoln.
In was the 27th meeting between the neighboring schools, with Nebraska taking the series lead at 14-10-1 after winning five in a row.  In 1966, the No. 7 Cornhuskers escaped Boulder with a 21-19 win, erasing a 12-point halftime deficit with two touchdowns in the final 11 minutes (and the game winner with 53 seconds left).  So revenge was on the minds of the Buffaloes to say the least.  Colorado opened the ’67 season with four straight wins, including a 23-9 verdict the week before over No. 17 Missouri in Boulder, climbing to a No. 4 ranking – its highest ever in history at the time.  CU traveled to Lincoln to take on the Huskers, technically ranked 13th (AP was in its last year of ranking just the top 10, but Nebraska was the third team listed receiving votes); NU was 3-1 and had lost the previous week at No. 8 Kansas, 10-0.  Nebraska scored early to take a 7-0 lead, but CU stormed back with two second quarter TDs to lead 14-7 at halftime; Larry Plantz scored on a 6-yard run and Dick Anderson teamed with Mike Veeder on a 70-yard interception return for a score (Anderson picked the ball at the CU 30, ran it back to the NU 45 where he lateralled to Veeder who took it home).  The Huskers pulled to within 14-13 on their first possession of the second half, but Anderson blocked the extra point attempt.  Later in the quarter with NU driving to the CU 33, Jeff Raymond intercepted a pass and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown.  Nebraska was able to add a field goal to close the scoring, but its last three possessions all ended in turnovers, including a second pick by Raymond at the CU 32 with two minutes to play.  The Huskers outgained CU, 402-182, but the Buffs had a huge edge in return yards (217-25), and forced eight Nebraska turnovers.  Anderson led CU with 13 tackles, adding the interception, a pass broken up and the blocked PAT; Raymond would go on to star in several St. Pauli Beer commercials in the 1970s and 1980s, and the Buffaloes climbed into the No. 3 spot in the polls after the win, CU’s last versus Nebraska until 1986.

Runner-Up—1990: Colorado 20, Washington 14 in Boulder.
The last of five non-conferences games likely no team has played since (Tennessee-Stanford-Illinois-Texas-Washington).  The No. 20 Buffaloes at 2-1-1 are coming off a 29-22 win at Texas, scoring the game’s final 15 points and return home to face No. 12 Washington, the Huskies shellacking No. 5 USC at home the week before (31-0).  The game was more or less a pick’em by the oddsmakers, and was a defensive battle in the first half that saw Washington leading 7-3 at intermission, the Buffs getting on the board as the half ended on a 47-yard field goal by Jim Harper.

Here is a link to the CU at the Game story on the game …


Honorable Mention—2007: Colorado 27, Oklahoma 24 in Boulder.
Third-ranked Oklahoma rolled into Boulder with a 4-0 record that included a 51-13 thrashing of Miami-Fla., while the Buffaloes were 2-2 and looking to end a five-game losing streak against the Sooners.  OU scored first late in the first quarter, capitalizing on an interception returned to the CU 11-yard line, but the Buffs tied the game on a 25-yard touchdown run by Hugh Charles two possessions later.  Undaunted, Oklahoma methodically scored the next 17 points over the next 10 minutes of game time, with the last seven coming after another interception, and took a 24-7 lead with 12:23 left in the third quarter.  But from that point on, the CU defense, already playing stellar and keeping the Buffs in the game, held OU to just 36 yards on 15 plays the rest of the game.

Here is a link to the CU at the Game story on the game …

A YouTube version of the final play …


To Which I Would Add The Following … 

September 30, 1995 – at Oklahoma          No. 4 Colorado 38, No. 10 Oklahoma 17

“It looks as though if they can brace him and stabilize the knee, he might be able to play”, reported head coach Rick Neuheisel of his injured Koy Detmer.  “Koy is of the mind that he wants to play …. if he wants to play and is able to play, we’re excited to have him play.”  Neuheisel then added, in a remark which would come back to haunt him a few weeks later:  “If the risks (for additional injury) are significant, he won’t play.”

One issue had been decided … Detmer would not play against Oklahoma.

The job as the starting quarterback now fell to super-sub John Hessler.  Colorado would thus enter its final season as a member of the Big Eight conference with a first time starter at quarterback … on the road … at historic and raucous Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma … before a national television audience on ESPN (the fourth national television appearance in five games for the Buffs) … against the No. 10 team in the country.

An Associated Press article the week leading up to the game was headlined:  “Colorado title hopes on hold“.  If Colorado was to compete for the national and conference titles, though, there were no second chances.  Any loss from here on would severely impact the Buffs chances in the polls and in the standings.

The Buffs could look back on what head coach Rick Neuheisel had said after the Northeast Louisiana game: “You only get 11 shots.”

Fire away, John Hessler.

How did John Hessler do in the pressure-packed game before 75,004 crazed Sooner fans?

Try a new school record for touchdown passes in a game.

In an atmosphere where most Colorado fans were hoping that Hessler would produce an effort sufficient to keep the Buffs in the game, the sophomore delivered five touchdown passes to lead the Buffs to a 38-17 romp over Oklahoma.

Hessler struggled early in the game, but came on to complete 24-of-34 passes for 348 yards.  Oklahoma jumped out to a 10-0 advantage before Hessler caught fire.  Hessler’s first touchdown pass covered 19 yards to Phil Savoy, making it a 10-7 game six minutes into the second quarter.

After another Sooners score, Hessler connected with Rae Carruth from 11 yards out to finish off a 13-play, 71-yard drive to pull the Buffs to within 17-14 at the break. The key play in the drive came on a fourth-and-one at the Oklahoma 13 yard line with 31 seconds left before half. Rather than kick a 30-yard field goal, the Buffs went for the first down, with Hessler picking up the necessary yardage on a quarterback sneak. The very next play was the touchdown toss to Carruth, getting the Buffs back into the game.

In the third quarter, Colorado raced ahead and then pulled away.

The go-ahead score came on a 71-yard catch and run by Carruth to give CU its first lead of the game, at 21-17, midway through the third quarter.  On Colorado’s next possession, Hessler connected with running back Lendon Henry on a swing pass. A total of 28 yards later, the Buffs had a 28-17 cushion.

Here the YouTube video of the game … 

October 9, 1999           Colorado 46, Missouri 39 (OT)

It took four long hours, but Ben Kelly finally put an end to what he had started.

Colorado’s all-everything cornerback/kick returner opened the Missouri game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In overtime, after a game which was a roller coaster of emotion, Kelly intercepted a pass by Missouri quarterback Kirk Farmer to preserve a 46-39 overtime win for the Buffs.

Sandwiched between Kelly’s heroic plays, the Folsom Field crowd of 48,674 saw a little bit of everything. Both teams suffered safeties. Both teams had a punt blocked. Both teams had the opportunity to put the other away, each failing to rise to the occasion. In the end, a 24-yard touchdown pass from Mike Moschetti to Marcus Stiggers in overtime gave Colorado the win.

Twice the Buffs went up by two touchdowns, only to see the lead evaporate.

Colorado took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, with Ben Kelly opening the scoring with a 100-yard kickoff return to start the game. Later in the quarter, the Buffs put together a 10-play, 89-yard drive, culminated by a Mike Moschetti scramble of seven yards for a touchdown (Jeremy Aldrich missed the extra point).

Seemingly on cruise control, the Buffs went into a funk, with the Tigers scoring the next 17 points of the game. In the final minute of the first quarter, Missouri posted a safety when Cortlen Johnson was tackled in the endzone. Two touchdown runs early in the second quarter gave the Tigers the lead at 14-13 (two attempts at two-point conversions failed), with Missouri taking a 17-13 lead with a field goal. Jeremy Aldrich then made it a 17-16 game at halftime with a 25-yard field goal right before the break.

Continue reading story here

From the essay for the game, “A Tough Team to Love” … 

Sitting in the stands, basking in the glow of a 68-degree October afternoon in Boulder, I was shaking my head.

The Buffs, after seizing a 13-0 lead early (which could have been 21-0 or greater – CU had already missed an extra point and a field goal), were now behind, 25-18, late in the third quarter. The offense had produced nothing for two quarters but punts and turnovers. The Tigers, while not playing exceptionally well themselves, had slowly assumed control of the game.

I was shaking my head, knowing that the Buffs should have been comfortably ahead of this team. Next to me, my guest for the game, Tony Truschel, shared my frustration. “A tough team to love”, he offered.

Tony’s words precisely expressed my feelings. Colorado had talented players, but did not have a team. Now the Buffs were on the verge of falling to 2-3 with four of their remaining six games on the road.

CU was on the brink of a disastrous season.

Continue reading story here

October 6, 2018 – Boulder           No. 21 Colorado 28, Arizona State 21

Laviska Shenault scored four touchdowns, with two scoring receptions and two scoring runs, leading No. 21 Colorado to a 28-21 win over Arizona State. For the game, Shenault had 13 receptions for 127 yards, to go with five carries for 13 yards.

Quarterback Steven Montez went 24-for-33 for 328 yards and two touchdowns, while Travon McMillian had 30 carries for 136 yards, becoming the first CU running back since Rashaan Salaam to post four 100-yard rushing games in the first five games of the season.

The game was tight throughout, with Arizona State taking 7-0, 14-7, and 21-14 leads, with the CU offense responding each time. Late i the third quarter, the Buffs took their first lead of the game on a Montez-to-Shenault three yard score. The Sun Devils appeared ready to respond, but cornerback Delrick Abrams, Jr., knocked away a Manny Wilkins pass on fourth-and-goal from the CU three yard line to preserve the lead.

“When you are the underdog you have to try and steal a possession and go for it even more”, said first-year head coach Herm Edwards of his decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter. “That is the logic behind it … If you do not you feel like you have nine minutes left—you hold them they punt, you can hopefully get the ball on the fifty and you get another shot. So it just didn’t work out.”

Colorado out-gained Arizona State, 494-to-367 in total yards, but the Buff defense came up huge in the second half. After surrendering a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, the Buffs buckled down. The Sun Devils were 5-of-6 on third down conversions in the first half, but 0-of-5 on third down conversions in the second half. In the decisive fourth quarter, Colorado ran 24 plays for 97 yards and 12:34 of game clock, while Arizona State ran six plays for three total yards, holding the ball for 2:26 after falling behind the Buffs in the final minute of the third quarter.

“It is really exciting”, said Mike MacIntyre, who won his 30th game as the CU head coach (30-38). “I love all of my teams. I care about all of my teams. There are some teams you kind of like more than others just because of how they all are together and you kind of like what you see. This team I really like”.

Continue reading story here

Essay for the game … “Nothing to Say … A Lot to Prove”

For the unbeaten Colorado Buffaloes, it was kind of a rough week.

Instead of being celebrated as being the only team in the Pac-12 to emerge from the month of September without a loss, it was a week of Buff-bashing for the No. 21 team in the nation.

Brad Crawford at 247Sports had this to say … College football’s worst unbeaten Power 5 team is Colorado, per ESPN’s analytics model. Ranked No. 53 this week in the FPI, there’s still a good chance the Buffaloes (4-0) fail to reach bowl season believe it or not. Colorado isn’t expected to win against Arizona State, USC, Washington, Arizona, Washington State, Utah or California the rest of the way. That would be a cataclysmic collapse for Mike MacIntyre and Co. This week’s game vs. Arizona State is the first loss.

Crawford was not alone:

  • Bill Bender at The Sporting News … The Buffaloes are undefeated, but their opponents so far have combined for a 1-16 record this season. Arizona State has been tested, and the key will be seeing how they adjust in what should be a rowdy road environment. We think the Sun Devils get through it.
  • Tom Fornelli at CBS Sports considered Arizona State over Colorado to be his “Lock of the Week” … Yes, the Buffs are 4-0, but they’re 4-0 against Colorado State, Nebraska, UCLA, and New Hampshire. Those four teams are a combined 1-16 on the season. If you look at F/+ ratings, Arizona State is ranked No. 39 in the country while Colorado is at No. 57. Yes, Arizona State has two losses, but metrics suggest it should be the team favored in this matchup. Arizona State 31, Colorado 30

For their part, the Buffs remained humble and quiet.

Continue reading story here



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