<
>

Colorado stays undefeated at home with win over Missouri

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- He's part tailback, part fullback and 100
percent football player.

Lawrence Vickers proved that again Saturday, scoring four
touchdowns to help No. 25 Colorado move closer to another division
title with a 41-12 victory over Missouri.

Vickers normally does more blocking and pass catching than
running, but when the Buffs decided right before kickoff that
hurting tailback Hugh Charles couldn't go, Vickers got the call.

He ran for touchdowns of 1, 2, 20 and 7 yards for the Buffs
(7-2, 5-1 Big 12) and finished with a career-high 85 yards on 18
carries.

"I was motivated," Vickers said. "I love carrying the ball."

Coach Gary Barnett said he offered Vickers a break from the
special teams units he plays on, knowing his "V-back" -- the `V'
stands for "versatile" -- would be getting extra work against the
Tigers (5-4, 3-3).

Not surprisingly, Vickers declined.

"He's on punt return but he didn't want out. He's on punt
coverage but he didn't want out of that," Barnett said. "He
wanted to be in the game every snap and you love an attitude like
that."

Vickers' super game was part of a great all-around performance
for the Buffs, one Barnett called the most thorough he's seen this
season.

Joel Klatt threw for 253 yards and a touchdown, Mason Crosby hit
a 56-yard field goal and CU took a two-game lead over Missouri in
the Big 12 North.

If the Buffs win next week at Iowa State, also 3-3 in the
conference, they'll secure their fourth trip to the conference
title game in the last five years.

Missouri, meanwhile, came into the game also controlling its
destiny. But the Tigers fell flat, lost their second straight and
now will probably focus more on getting another win to become bowl
eligible rather than winning the division.

"Maybe they felt too much pressure. Maybe I did it," Missouri
coach Gary Pinkel said.

CU lost to South Division leader Texas 42-17 earlier this year
and, though it's hard to imagine the Buffs closing the gap enough
to beat the second-ranked Longhorns, it's also hard not to believe
Colorado has a rightful spot among the nation's upper class.

This game, against a contending Missouri team and its dynamic
quarterback, Brad Smith, was supposed to a big test. As they have
in every home game since their three-point win in the opener
against Colorado State, the Buffs took a big lead early and left
little doubt about who was the better team.

And when the Tigers briefly tried to make a game of it, the
Buffs answered immediately -- the way good teams do.

Missouri pulled within 24-12 early in the third quarter when
Stryker Sulak hit Klatt and forced a fumble, which Jamar Smith
scooped up and ran 12 yards for a touchdown.

The Buffs responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive, helped
tremendously by a roughing-the-punter call. On third-and-goal from
the 6, Klatt rolled to his right, patiently waited for Quinn
Sypniewski to shed a defender, then hit Sypniewski with a strike in
the back of the end zone to make it 31-12.

That was the lone touchdown pass. The rest of the scores
belonged to Vickers, who came one touchdown short of the school
record. The Buffs ran for 170 yards after struggling on the ground
for most of the past month -- averaging 80 yards over the last three
games.

"Coach said the only way we'd have a chance to beat Texas is if
we run the ball better," Vickers said. "He called us out on that,
and when he calls us out, we had to respond."

The defense was good, too.

Smith, he of the 246-yard rushing game two weeks ago in a win
over Nebraska, got the 5 yards he needed to break Antwaan
Randle-El's NCAA record for yards rushing by a quarterback (3,895).
But overall, he was held in check, throwing for 160 yards and
running for 16 more, as the Mizzou offense managed the single
touchdown and no other real threats.

"I didn't even know," Smith said of the record. "Winning is
the most important thing in the world to me, as far as the game
goes."

Crosby, meanwhile, made his 10th career field goal from 50 yards
or longer. Last week, he booted a 50-yarder in the final seconds
for a 23-20 victory at Kansas State.

This time, after Klatt threw incomplete on third-and-6 from the
Missouri 39, Buffs fans actually started cheering, anticipating
another long try from the strong-legged kicker. Crosby didn't
disappoint. When his kick went over the crossbar, the ball was
still above the top of the uprights -- a shot that might have been
good from 80 yards in the thin Boulder air.

"No," was all Barnett said when asked if he thought twice
about the 56-yard attempt.