Friday night was one last chance for the 2015 Buffs to give their fans something to remember, and it was one more chance for Folsom Frenzy to break out some tricks we had been waiting all year to try. Both parties performed admirably, despite the fact that the result on the field was heartbreaking yet again.
I got to the stadium around 2:50 after my classes were finished to help members of the Folsom Frenzy set up a 750 person card stunt in the student section. We had originally prepared to do it against Oregon, but weather intervened and forced us to postpone it. By the time I got there the setup had mostly been completed, and all I had to to do was add some tape to a few of the cards. We then walked over to Balch Fieldhouse to watch the basketball game, and got a great look at the cards from the other side of the stadium.
Watching the basketball game in Balch was fun, and I'd personally like to see them have watch parties for away football games in there as well. Concessions were open and it was a nice atmosphere. After the game ended we headed back over to the student section to prepare for gates to open.
A major concern of mine was that we wouldn't actually have enough students at kickoff to do the card stunt, and because of these we tried to ask people to sit on a card instead of in another section. Once the section started to fill up we also had to ask people to move to the center so that people would be able to see the empty spots on the aisles. It was only semi-organized chaos, and with ten minutes to go before kickoff there were still several gaps in the section. Immediately after Ralphie ran we told everyone sitting on a card to sit down, and to my relief there were no gaps. Then, after the teams went on the field for the coin toss, Chip gave the order for the students to hold their cards up to spell "CU". It wasn't perfect, but it worked. This was the most difficult thing Folsom Frenzy has tried to execute in its two years of existence, and it was honestly more successful than I thought it would be. Almost all the students cooperated and it looked good enough to make it on the jumbotron, as well as the ESPN broadcast of the game. It earned a nice round of applause from the other side of the stadium, and I was really proud that all the work we had put in had paid off. The cards went down before kickoff, and we immediately set to work trying to collect them so that they didn't wind up on the field. I had to rip a folded paper airplane out of somebody's hand as I walked through the aisle. Luckily, not a single piece of paper made it on the field.
The atmosphere in the student section, and the stadium in general, was awesome throughout the first quarter as CU took a 7-3 lead and was in the process of driving down the field again. That's when fate intervened and the Buffs suddenly found themselves without their leader and starting quarterback after he went down with a foot injury after being sacked on the last play of the first quarter. In an instant, the air was completely sucked out of Folsom.
It couldn't have been worse timing for the on-field ceremony honoring Larry Zimmer on the occasion of his final Buffs broadcast and 80th birthday. Still, despite their concern for their quarterback, the stadium rose to its feet when Zimmer was announced, and gave him a very loud rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song. It was still a great moment despite the circumstances, and I was glad Larry got the send off he deserved instead of being forced into retirement last year by his medical problems. If CU makes a bowl game in the next few years I hope he'll come out of retirement to call it.
Another thing Folsom Frenzy tried out for the first time on Friday was something we had seen other schools try that we thought would work well for the blackout game. On USC's first possession of the second quarter, we asked people to turn on the flashlights on their cell phones and shine them in the direction of the USC offense. We got a decent amount of people to do it, and the effect was cool, but I definitely think we could do a better job with it next year. On the next play, Cody Kessler through an interception to Jered Bell. I'm not saying the lights had something to do with it, but I'm not not saying that. Bell's pick was one of the highlights of the night for me. I was really hoping he'd make a big play and the only way he could have made a bigger one would have been if he had taken it all the way to the end zone. However, it set the Buffs up in great field position and Cade Apsay finished off the drive with a beautiful touchdown pass that put the Buffs up 14-3. Folsom was feeling it again. Maybe this was really the time it was going to happen. The mythical two-possession lead that had eluded the Buffs all year in conference play was finally theirs, and it remained theirs going into halftime.
The last interesting thing that happened in the student section on Friday night was a surprise to pretty much everyone. With a few minutes remaining in halftime, 30 bottles of baby powder mysteriously appeared in the student section and dispersed themselves throughout it. When Ralphie came out of the tunnel, an explosion of white powder erupted from the middle of the student section. It looked great and smelled strange. Security was not pleased and attempted to confiscate the bottles, but their efforts were not entirely successful and baby powder continued to rain down periodically throughout the second half, particularly after big plays. The effect was particularly dramatic when CU scored their only touchdown of the second half.
Oh, I suppose there is one other incident I should mention. After Christian Powell's fumble in the third quarter, the ESPN cameras caught a certain distraught CU fan giving the finger to the entire world. Standing next to him was some fool in a Jason mask from the Friday the 13th films, whose identity will forever be a mystery to everyone who doesn't follow me on Twitter. The person who flipped off the cameras, who will also remain anonymous unless you've ever been on twitter, would like the world to know that he wasn't flipping off Christian Powell, but rather a USC player who was taunting the student section.
In the end, of course, the Buffs fell short yet again, and the hopes everyone had harbored for a magical end to the home season were dashed after Apsay's fourth down pass fell just out of the reach of Devin Ross and USC ran out the clock. As I stood there shoulder to shoulder with my friends, covered in baby powder and singing the Alma Mater, the reality dawned on me that, with only one more season of CU football left to watch from the student section, I still hadn't seen a great win at Folsom. Then I thought about the senior students and players who will graduate in May without a single memorable Folsom Field victory. I still have hope that I'll see one great win (maybe more if I'm lucky) next year, and that the current Freshmen and Sophomores will see more than that, but as I left Folsom for the last time in 2015 on Friday night I couldn't shake the feeling that CU really should have gotten that win this year. They were either tied or leading at halftime in three Pac-12 home games, and they went 0-3 in those games. The fact that I was saying this exact thing at this time last year (right down to the statistic I just gave) makes it hurt even more.
It'll be a long ten months before real football returns to Folsom again, and it'll be another offseason filled with what-ifs and could've-beens. I still hold out hope that things will be different next year, but I'm not sure I'll be as optimistic as I was before this season. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll buy in just as hard next August as I did this August. It's what CU fans do. In the meantime, I have a basketball game to go to on Friday night.