Results: Won 9 Lost 5
7-1 Big 12 North
Big 12 North Division Champions
Final AP Ranking: #20
The FOX network should consider Boulder and the University of Colorado for its next reality show. The past few years have produced more real-life dramas both on and off the field than Joe Millionaire and Temptation Island combined.
2002 was another soap opera season for the Colorado Buffaloes, who finished 9-5 and repeated as Big 12 North Division Champions. Off the field problems like underage recruiting parties and the departure of starting quarterback Craig Ochs, mixed with on the field successes, to create a very intriguing 2002 season.
It looked as if the Buffs were in for a long year when they fell to 1-2 and Craig Ochs decided to quit the team, but the Buffs stuck together, silenced the critics and rallied to save the season. Their nine wins were the most in Colorado history for a team starting out 1-2.
Like any good drama, there were many twists and turns in the Buffs plot. Highlights in 2002 included wins over Kansas State, UCLA and their second win in a row against Nebraska. Colorado's win over the Huskers marked only the third time in the last 43 years that the Buffs defeated NU in back-to-back games.
Although Colorado won its second straight Big 12 North Division title, they finished the year on a down note by losing their last two games to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and to Wisconsin in the Alamo Bowl.
GAME #1 COLORADO STATE 19 COLORADO 14
After winning the Big 12 title in 2001 and being ranked #7, the last thing CU fans expected was to start the 2002 season off with another loss to in-state rival Colorado State, but that's exactly what happened.
The Buffs were shut-out for three quarters and a ferocious forth quarter rally failed when Craig Och's pass to John Donahoe fell incomplete at the goal line with just 21 seconds left, as the Rams beat the Buffs 19-14.
Colorado was down 13-0, when Jeremy Bloom began his CU career with a boom as he returned a punt 75 yards for his first ever college touchdown. After a Chris Brown 1-yard score, CU had it's first, and only, lead of the game 14-13 with less than 10 minutes to play.
But CSU quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt led the Rams on an 84-yard scoring march capped by his 23 yard score to put the Rams ahead for good. On the touchdown run, Van Pelt showed what a "classy" guy he is when he turned around and slammed the ball into the face of safety Rodrick Sneed. It will be a play that Colorado players, coaches and fans will not soon forget. Somehow the referees did not see it and there was no flag thrown for taunting.
CU took over with six minutes left and drove from its own 20 into the CSU red zone in the final minute. The drive included two huge forth down conversions; both three yard runs by Brown and Ochs. But Colorado didn't have any more forth down miracles, as Ochs pass to Donahoe fell incomplete to end any hope of victory.
Turnovers killed the Buffs as Chris Brown fumbled twice in the second half including a muff at the Rams three-yard line. The loss dropped Head Coach Gary Barnett's record to 1-3 against the Rams.
Box Score (Final)
Colorado vs Colorado State (Aug 31, 2002 at Denver, Colorado)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- Colorado............ 0 0 0 14 - 14 Colorado State...... 7 6 0 6 - 19
GAME #2: COLORADO 34 SAN DIEGO STATE 14
Chris Brown ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Craig Ochs threw two touchdown passes before leaving the game with a concussion as the Buffs improved to 1-1 with a 20 point win over San Diego State.
Ochs started the game off strong by hitting Beau Williams on a 22-yard scoring play to put CU up 7-0 and then on a 75-yard touchdown strike to Derek McCoy. That play gave the Buffs a 14-7 lead as the first quarter came to an end. The Aztecs tied the game again on a 31-yard run by Michael Franklin, but the play seemed to wake the Buffs up. CU took the lead for good when Franklin fumbled a Mark Mariscal punt at his own 8-yard line and true freshman Akarika Dawn scooped it up and took it into the end zone.
Chris Brown stole the show in the second half as he rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, including a 38-yard scoring rumble.
While Dawn's touchdown introduced Colorado fans to the future, another true-freshman made a name for him as well. Defensive back J.J. Billingsley made his Folsom Field debut with 15 tackles and set a CU record for most tackles by a freshman.
Another player introduced to the Folsom crowd was quarter back Robert Hodge, who replaced Craig Ochs in the second quarter after he sustained another concussion. Little did Buff fans know it would be the last game Ochs would ever play for the University, as he would leave the team and hand the reins over to Robert Hodge.
Box Score (Final)
Colorado vs San Diego State (Sept. 7, 2002 at Boulder, Co)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- San Diego State... 7 7 0 0 - 14 Colorado……........ 14 7 7 6 - 34
GAME #3 USC 40 COLORADO 3
It had looked as if the 2002 Buffalo stampede had been put out to pasture as Colorado suffered their worst home defeat in 19 years, 40-3 to the Southern California Trojans.
USC quarterback Carlson Palmer lit-up the Buffs defense for 244 yards and a score and rushed for another touch down as Colorado couldn't stop the Trojan offense. They built up a 20-0 halftime lead and out gained CU 291-54 in first half total yards.
The Buffs only chance to get back into the game in the second half came when Evan Judge blocked a punt that set up CU at the USC 23. But a fumble by Robert Hodge moved the Buffs backwards and Patrick Brougham missed a 23-yard field goal attempt to end the threat. He did make good on a 42-yard kick in the third to cut the lead to 20-3, but the Trojans came right back with their third 80-yard scoring drive of the game.
The Buffs offense never got on track and finished with only seven yards in the second half and 61 total yards, its lowest total since 1961. Robert Hodge and back-up Zac Colvin completed only two passes total on the day. USC added touchdowns in the forth quarter off a blocked punt and a CU fumble deep in Buff territory.
It was not the quarterback debut Robert Hodge was looking for as he finished 1-9 for 20 yards and one interception.
Southern Cal vs Colorado (Sep 14, 2002 at Boulder, Colo.)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score ----------------- -- -- -- -- ----- Southern Cal........ 14 6 0 20 - 40 Colorado............ 0 0 3 0 - 3
GAME #4 COLORADO 31 UCLA 17
The USC loss dropped CU to 1-2 and knocked them out of the top 25. While most of the media had basically written them off for the season, the never say die Buffaloes responded with a huge 31-17 win over the #20 ranked UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl.
Chris Brown rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns and Bobby Purify added 87 yards as the CU offensive line redeemed them with a dominating performance. Colorado finished with 325-yards on the ground and basically wore-out the Bruin defense. Robert Hodge completed 11 of 22 passes for 117 yards and a two-point conversion to Derek McCoy. CU totaled 471 yards of total offense and held the Bruins to only 284.
Patrick Brougham added a career-high three field goals as Colorado went on a 31-3 scoring run after the Bruins took an early 7-0 lead. The win was Colorado's first against the Bruins in five tries and helped erase the memories of the USC game a week before. Colorado vs UCLA (Sep 21, 2002 at Pasadena, CA)
Colorado 0 10 11 10 - 31 UCLA 0 7 3 7 – 17
GAME #5 COLORADO 35 KANSAS STATE 31
Colorado successfully opened their defense of their Big 12 conference title with a crazy 35-31 victory over #13 Kansas State at Folsom Field. In what many thought would be a defensive struggle, the Buffalo and Wildcat offenses had a field day, as they totaled 886 total yards on the day.
Beginning to get more comfortable with the offense, CU QB Robert Hodge had his best day as a Buff as he threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns. It was actually the sixth best day for a CU quarterback in school history.
But it was a day of huge plays that made this game so exciting. Colorado scored on offensive plays of 70-plus, 80-plus and 90-plus yards, the first time in school history that had happened in a single game. Kansas State countered with scoring plays of 71 and 80 yards and made a big time comeback in the third quarter.
The scoring fiesta began when Chris Brown capped an 81-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive on the Buffs first possession. The Buffs struck again when the got the ball back, this time through the air when Robert Hodge hit freshman Brian Calhoun on a 71-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
The lead was short lived as the Wildcats stormed back with a 1-yard Darren Sproles score and a 71-yard Ell Roberson run off the option. Colorado then put up two of the longest touchdowns in school history, an 85-yard touchdown run by Chris Brown and a 94-yard pass from Hodge to Jeremy Bloom, the longest pass play in Colorado history. Just like that, the Buffs took a 14-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
It looked like the Buffs had created an insurmountable lead when Hodge found Jesse Wallace in the end zone for a 1-yard score that capped a 13-play drive. The drive took over 6 minutes, but the Wildcats didn't waste any time in mounting a comeback. Darren Sproles busted through the middle for an 80-yard score and when he added a 3-yard touchdown late in the third quarter the CU lead was only seven at 35-28.
But on a day when offense was king, the CU defense was the one to make a game saving stop. On forth- and- two from the CU two, Sproles got hammered for a loss by safety Donald Strickland and Colorado hung on for the victory.
Kansas State vs Colorado (Oct. 5th, 2002 at Boulder, CO)
Kansas State 0 14 14 3 - 31 Colorado 14 14 7 0 – 35
Game #6 Colorado 53 Kansas 29
The Buffs beat a team from Kansas for the second straight week as Chris Brown ran for 308 yards and two touchdowns. It was the third most yards amassed in a single game by a CU running back, as Brown had runs of 78- and 51- yards for touchdowns. Brown had entered the game as the Big 12's leading rusher and when the dust settled, he was the nation's leading rusher, averaging over 164 yards per game.
Robert Hodge had another big day, throwing three touchdown passes for the second-straight game as the Buffs hammered the Jayhawks 53-29.
After building a 14-0 lead, the Buffs fell asleep and Kansas rallied to take a 15-14 lead in the second quarter. But the Buffs alarm went off and they scored three straight touchdowns on Brown's 51-yard run, Derek McCoy's 15-yard TD reception and an impressive 95-yard interception return for a score by Donald Strickland.
Colorado rushed for 427 yards, their most since netting 502 in a win over Missouri in 1991 and their 53 points was the most scored in a 62-game series with the Jayhawks. The 82 combined points was the most ever in this rivalry that dates back to 1903.
Colorado vs Kansas (Oct. 12th, 2002 at Lawrence, KS)
Colorado 14 22 3 14 - 53 Kansas 9 13 7 0 – 29
GAME #7 COLORADO 34 BAYLOR 0
If the nation had not yet heard of CU running back Chris Brown, they did after the Buffs shut-out Baylor 34-0 in week seven.
Brown entered the game as nation's leading rusher with a 164-yard average and added to his totals with another 167 yards and three touchdowns. He got the Buffs on the scoreboard first with a 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and then added a 4-yard and 1-yard score in the second to help the Buffs sprint out to a 34-0 halftime lead. Brown and most of the starters took the rest of the day off in the second half.
In the game, Brown became the fastest player in CU history to reach 1000 rushing yards in a season on his 143rd rushing attempt. He surpassed Rashaan Salaam's old record set in 1994 when he reached 1000 yards on his 149th attempt. He also tied Salaam's record of five scores of 50 yards or more in a season.
Colorado rushed for a total of 270 yards and finished with 395 total yards on offense. Robert Hodge went 13-of-16 for 125 yards and at one point completed nine passes in a row. After four weeks out of the national rankings, the Buffs returned at #23
The Colorado defense posted their first shutout since 1999 when the hammered the same Baylor Bears 37-0. The first-team defense allowed the Bears only 108 yards in the first three quarters before some younger players got a chance to play.
Baylor vs Colorado (Oct. 19th, 2002 at Boulder, CO)
Baylor 0 0 0 0 - 0 Colorado 14 20 0 0 - 34