BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- The win brought as much relief as
jubilation for Colorado.
The loss brought more anger than heartbreak for Colorado State.
Like a couple of brothers going at it in the backyard before
dinner, the Buffs and Rams looked like they could've kept playing
forever Saturday evening. Naturally, the team that scored last won.
This time, it was the Buffaloes who sneaked away on top, 31-28.
"A classic for college football," Buffs coach Gary Barnett
called it after watching his team overcome an 11-point deficit over
the final 13½ minutes.
Mason Crosby kicked a 47-yard field goal with 4 seconds left for
the game-winner -- the last of 20 points the rivals put up over the
frantic, final 2:32.
When it was over, CU fans flooded the field and a record Folsom
Field crowd of 54,972 -- save the small cloister of Rams fans in the
corner -- celebrated a win in one of the most underrated rivalries
in the country.
Tight end Quinn Sypniewski left the field carrying the silver
trophy awarded to the winner each year. Did he know what the trophy
"Ours," Sypniewski said, as he worked his way toward a happy
Many in Boulder condescendingly view CSU as the little brother
in this Rocky Mountain rivalry.
"But if we're such an underdog, why are they coming onto the
field?" CSU quarterback Justin Holland asked.
Indeed, CSU has proven itself very much a challenge for
Colorado. But CU has won four straight and in the last two games,
the difference has been three points -- one field goal from the leg
of arguably the nation's best kicker.
Crosby's game-winner came on his 21st birthday and added to a
48-yarder that cleared the crossbar by plenty with 2:32 left to tie
the game at 21.
"He's got a hell of a leg and he's hurt us the last couple
years," Holland said.
Two plays after Crosby tied it, Holland threw his third
interception over a 15-minute span, a forced floater that Gerett
Burl caught and returned to the CSU 23. On the next snap, Hugh
Charles ran untouched for a touchdown, his second score of the
fourth quarter, to make it 28-21 with 1:30 left.
Holland came back, though, and marched the Rams 80 yards in 54
seconds, capping it with a 9-yard pass to Kory Sperry to make it
28-27. CSU coach Sonny Lubick thought about going for 2, "but they
talked me out of it," he said of his assistants.
After the extra point, CSU squibbed the kickoff, but Colorado
returned it to the 40. Joel Klatt (22-for-33, 283 yards) hit
Patrick Williams to get the ball into Rams territory and after an
eight-yard gain, Crosby came on for the win.
Crosby, whose range is estimated at around 70 yards, said he
didn't even know how long the final attempt was when he walked onto
"That whole last kick was probably mental," he said. "Once I
hit the ball, I just really didn't think about it. I had been
preparing on the sideline."
It marked yet another tough loss in this series for the Rams.
This one was made worse because CSU dominated through most of three
quarters, taking a 21-10 lead and leaving the Buffs looking
"Nobody's heartbroken in there," Holland said of the CSU
locker room. "We're more mad than anything."
"We're a damned good football team and I'm proud of my club,"
The senior quarterback (28-for-43 for 281 yards) shouldered much
of the blame last season when, trailing by three with the clock
ticking down, he and Lubick mismanaged the clock and failed in two
hurried attempts to gain one yard for what would have been the
This year, Holland stood outside the locker room and answered
questions for a good 20 minutes, not shirking from the three
interceptions he threw down the stretch. Had any of them been
avoided, the outcome likely would have been different.
"Those were mistakes I'm expected to get control of," Holland
said. "I spent a lot of time in the offseason working to try to
eliminate those mistakes. I took too many risks. I've got to throw
the ball out of bounds. I can't try to make things happen when
they're not there."
Holland will regret those three interceptions, but his drive for
the tying touchdown was impressive -- he went 6-for-7 for 80 yards
and the score.
Only this time, the Rams wish they'd taken more time off the
clock instead of less.
Colorado, meanwhile, breathes a big sigh of relief after an
Many in Boulder view this as a no-win situation for the Buffs,
who play in a bigger conference (Big 12 vs. Mountain West) against
a team that often comes in feeling it has nothing to lose.
But it was hard to feel like the Buffs didn't win something
after this furious finish.
"I hate to use the word `surreal,' but it was just a great
moment," said Sypniewski, a senior. "I can't even put it into
words. Just being able to hold that trophy up my last year here is