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Very tough choice on this one. I certainly could pick a mid '90s team where Colorado played in the Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and Holiday Bowl but I was too young to remember the details of many of the games like I do the 2001-2002 season. Yes, the famous 62-36 year. A game that will go down as one of the greatest games in Colorado history.
That season started off extremely gloomy. I remember sitting in the Dal Ward end zone watching Fresno State quarterback David Carr torch the Buffs in the first quarter of the Colorado season. QB Craig Ochs led CU back only to miss on the two point conversion late in the fourth quarter and threw a devastating interception in the end zone. Turnovers ended up killing the Buffs that day as Fresno State took advantage of the CU mistakes to pull off a pretty big upset.
The Buffs season could have went south. After a 3-8 season the prior year, many thought the black and gold were headed that way again. We were wrong. Colorado responded after the tough home opener loss by blowing out Colorado State 41 - 14 to jump start a five game win streak. The CSU game was a thing of beauty and the day the rest of nation got a good look at Buff RBs Bobby Purify and Chris Brown do work. The two combined for 312 yards rushing on 42 carries for three scores.
After the five game winning streak, #14 Colorado traveled to #9 Texas. The Longhorns humbled the Buffs on the back of RB Cedric Benson and the arm of QB Chris Simms. But the team responded again reeling off a nice three game win streak before welcoming the second ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (Huskers were ranked #1 in the BCS at the time) into Boulder. With the Big 12 North on the line, Nebraska was the favorite to beat the Buffs and contend for a National Championship.
Well, it didn't end the way many thought it would. I will always remember this quote from CU head coach Gary Barnett:
"You never think it will go like this, obviously. But every once in a while, it all works."
"Sixty-two points. That's almost too overwhelming for me. It's going to take a while to sink in."
It certainly all worked that day for the Buffs. I consider myself extremely lucky to have watched that game in person, celebrating with fellow Buff fans like I have never done before. It was at times unbelievable to watch. Chris Brown's six touchdowns was one of the more impressive things I have ever seen on a football field. I shouldn't leave Bobby Purify out of the discussion as the two running backs combined for 352 yards on 44 carries
It was an ass kicking that was beautiful to take in. Colorado rolled up 62 points on the top ranked BCS team. Words could not explain the feeling but I remember the faces on Nebraska fans leaving the stadium and that is how I will remember them long into the future.
Next, Colorado went on to avenge the mid season loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Chris Brown did it again, running for three touchdowns as the 9th ranked Buffs turned Texas quarterback Chris Simms' four first-half turnovers into 26 points to win Colorado's first Big 12 championship.
My family and I road tripped it out to Arizona to take in the Fiesta Bowl. CU's hot streak ran out as QB Joey Harrington, RB Onterrio Smith and the Oregon Ducks handled the Buffs. Harrington threw for 350 yards in his final collegiate game.
But it wasn't my favorite team because the Buffs went to the Fiesta Bowl or even beat Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game. Like most CU fans, that year was defined by what took place that special day in November. Say 62-36 to a Buff fan and they will know what you mean.
The 2001-2002 season was a special one for sure.