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Colorado vs. California: Looking back at the 2014 classic

Remembering an unforgettable loss from a forgettable season.

Colorado v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Last night, the Kansas Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams played in what many have been quick to call the most entertaining game in NFL history. Indicative of college concepts infecting the NFL, this game was about high-flying offenses lighting up scoreboards in a back-and-forth thriller.

Young studs Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff combined for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns (and also 4 turnovers). With elite weapons all over the field and brilliant coaches scheming them open, each team’s middling secondaries were gashed over and over. The only disharmony came from Defensive Player of the Year front-runners Aaron Donald and Dee Ford causing sporadic mayhem, but there was nothing else that could be done against these prolific quarterbacks.

To most college football fans, this pointsplosion resembled another iconic Mahomes masterclass — the 2016 Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma game that saw Mahomes and Baker Mayfield combine for 125 points, 1,383 total yards and 14 touchdowns. But to Colorado fans, Monday night reminded us of another Jared Goff game — against Colorado in 2014.

In a game between two bottom feeders, Colorado vs. California was one of the best games of the college football year. Aside from the emotional highs of 2016, was probably the most entertaining CU game since 2007 against Oklahoma. With Goff and Sefo Liufau both playing immaculately, each had 7 passing touchdowns on over 450 passing yards. Not to be outdone, receivers Nelson Spruce, Kenny Lawler and Stephen Anderson spent the day making absurd catches and laying waste to overmatched secondaries. The only positive defensive play was Tedric Thompson with an interception, because of course.

After Cal erased an early Colorado lead, the second half was a back-and-forth affair that ended in a 49-49 deadlock. In the first overtime, the Golden Bears quickly scored on a 25-yard pass to Bryce Treggs. CU’s first play after, Sefo threw it deep and Spruce made a ridiculous contested catch for the tying score. Then in double overtime, Colorado faced 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line and Liufau’s run was stuffed. Cal subsequently won on a field goal.

(Sadly, this is the best video I can find besides the full game replay.)

Colorado lost the next seven games to finish 2-10 in Mike MacIntyre’s second season. With a young (but very talented) defense, the Buffs never allowed fewer than 36 points the rest of the season. Two years later, with Jim Levitt in tow, that defense was one of the best in college football. On Cal’s end, they won five games that year and eight the next, then Goff declared for the draft and was the first overall pick. Without Goff, Cal has gone 16-18 with Davis Webb, Ross Bowers and now Chase Garbers under center.

Only days after MacIntyre was fired by Colorado, it’s important to look back at his coaching performance that day. The Buffs took an early two-score lead and lost it, per MacIntyre tradition, but otherwise he was aggressive and cunning that day. All respect to that defense, but even with three future NFL starters in the secondary (Chidobe Awuzie, Ken Crawley and Tedric Thompson, plus Greg Henderson, Terrel Smith and Evan Worthington (!)), there was no chance they were going to stop Goff that day. Mac knew he had to score every possession, so he was aggressive and let Sefo throw deep. It was very on-brand to lose on a QB run on 4th-and-goal, but MacIntyre made the right call to go for the touchdown.

Now with Kurt Roper leading in MacIntyre’s place, the Buffs head to Berkeley hoping to end their six-game losing streak and achieve bowl eligibility. (That said, college football has too many bowl eligible teams and 6 wins might not be enough to get an invite.) Cal prides itself on a defense that 50 total points in their last 4 games, and Colorado’s offense isn’t exactly “good”. If Colorado does win, we couldn’t be farther from 2014.