Best of 2008 #9: The Iowa State Second Half

Colorado_medium VS. Iowa_st_2008_medium

The game was dubbed the "basement battle": two teams with losing records struggling to find an identity.  The Buffs had seven rather highly touted recruits in town: 3*/4* LB Michael Clay, 4* DT Latu Heimuli, 3* OT/DE Nik Abele, 4* DE Nick Kasa, 4* Bradley McDougald, DB Deji Olatoye and 4* WR Diante Jackson. Saying it was a big recruiting weekend would be an understatement. Most of these guys would be major gets on the national scene. CU had just come off a bad loss against Texas A&M at Kyle Field for what should have been win number five in the all important race to six. The Iowa State game was supposed to be the clinching game for a bowl bid. That got me and a ton of Buff fans worried about the motivation this team would have for Iowa State with seemingly two losses remaining on the schedule (Oklahoma State and Nebraska). Many were wondering what would come that Monday morning if Colorado actually lost to Iowa State, all but guaranteeing a four-win season. The difference between five and four isn't huge at first glance but losing to Iowa State and A&M back to back and only winning one conference game in the down Big 12 North would have been devastating. You thought recruiting was hard now, think about if we lost to Iowa State? Surely WR Diante Jackson wouldn't be considering us now, Olatoye may not have committed, McDougald wouldn't be a high interest guy and you always have to wonder about a guy like Abele who is getting big interest from a lot of programs right now.

for more on the 9th best moment of 2008, see after the jump...

It was another momumental day for one RB Darrell Scott. It was his first start as a Buff. Something we thought we would have seen a few more times before the 10th game of the season. True freshman QB Tyler Hansen also got his first start. Both debuts did not start well. It was a tale of two halfs. The offense, to nobody's surprise, was awful. Scoring zero points and went into halftime down 10 - 0. QB Tyler Hansen only completed 4 - 12 passes for 48 yards and an interception. The running game never really got going. And the special teams, oh the special teams. They were so bad that day that it sent me into a tizzy. The rap sheet looked like this:

-2 missed chip shot field goals in the first half
-1 blocked extra point that was a looming problem when looking at the scoreboard for most of the game
-2 consecutive roughing the punter penalties
-1 kickoff out of bounds in the fourth quarter
-2 kickoff returns to the 35 yard line +, especially the one on Iowa State's last drive that gave them a short field.

I sit in section 104 at Folsom field which is literally right next to the visiting section. Nothing was more embarrassing than to hear Iowa State "fan" chuckling and saying "I can't believe we are winning." You could tell hardly any of them followed the team but they were transplants and decided to go to the game expecting to get beat of course. But then something happened for CU: Urgency and QB Cody Hawkins.

Now we have been hearing about this spread offense since spring ball. The way the Buffs run it, we look like a team that just doesn't want to walk back to the huddle but will take the maximum amount of time off the clock. We watch Oklahoma and it is like a fast break offense. But urgency clicked in and the Buffs, for the first time, ran the fast break spread offense to perfection. QB Cody Hawkins administrated the offense extremely well. And you know what happened to that Iowa State defensive line? They got tired, really tired and it was easy pickins in the fourth quarter. Darrell Scott got rolling on the first drive of the second half including a rumbling 37 yard carry down the sideline that next year he will take the house. He finished with 19 carries and 87 yards; a career high for the highly touted freshman from California. QB Cody Hawkins looked, well, like he did in 2007 at times, certainly nothing we have seen in 2008. He finised 20 of 29 for 226 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not many professional quarterbacks have a half like that especially when spotting the opposition 10 points. Hawkins led scoring drives of 81, 80 and 84 yards. The Buffs had just five drives of 80 yards or more the whole season prior to that Saturday. The CU offense totaled over 400 yards for the only time this season and would go on to score 28 points in one half which was the most totaled in one half all year.  The offensive explosion was enough to make this one of the best moments of 2008.

But the real reason to celebrate was the excitement in Folsom Field on the last drive of the game. Because this happened:

Iowa State at 1:30
1st and 10 at ISU 39 Austen Arnaud pass complete to Houston Jones for 11 yards to the 50 yard line
1st and 10 at COL 50 Austen Arnaud pass complete to Marquis Hamilton for 9 yards to the Colo 41
2nd and 1 at COL 41 Alexander Robinson rush for 27 yards to the Colo 14
1st and 10 at COL 14 Timeout Iowa State, clock 00:40.
1st and 10 at COL 14 Austen Arnaud pass complete to Houston Jones for 8 yards to the Colo 6
2nd and 2 at COL 6 Austen Arnaud rush for 1 yard to the Colo 5
3rd and 1 at COL 5 Timeout Iowa State, clock 00:14.
3rd and 1 at COL 5 Austen Arnaud pass incomplete to R.J. Sumrall.
4th and 1 at COL 5 Austen Arnaud pass complete to Darius Darks for 4 yards to the Colo 1 for a 1ST down.
1st and Goal at COL 1 Team pass incomplete.
2nd and Goal at COL 1 Alexander Robinson rush for a loss of 2 yards to the Colo 3

End of 4th Quarter

After poor kickoff coverage and a 27 yard run, the Cyclones were down to the 14 yard line with plenty of time to score. But poor play calling, bad clock management and a big tackle by DE Maurice Lucas gave the home team a chance at the end of the game. Iowa State and their big 6'4" quarterback in QB Austen Arnaud were at the one yard line with one last chance to win. If you asked the fans at Folsom Field, half of them probably couldn't bare to watch. That scary thought came back into play: what if the Buffs actually lost to Iowa State? Luckily, Iowa State showed why they are a two win team. Inside the one yard line, Iowa State runs wide instead of straight at a "less than powerful" defensive line. By wide run, I mean an option to the short side of the field that was gobbled up by CB Jimmy Smith and S Daniel Dykes. It was one of the more bizarre halfs of football I have ever seen. The Buffs have had two wins in come from behind fashion. The other one was against another weaker opponent in FBS school Eastern Washington. The Buffs won that day on a CB Cha'pelle Brown interception returned for a touchdown.

Losing to Iowa State would have been disastrous to this program. Fortunately for the Buffs, it turned out to be one of the more entertaining games of the year. To relive the moment, go here to BuffTV and search for the Iowa State game.

Box Score of the Iowa State Game
The Ralphie Report's Post-Game Review

Best of 2008 List
10) The Victory Against CSU at Mile High
9) The Iowa State Second Half


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