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Vidakovich column: CU buries Penn State

Mike Vidakovich

In just a few days, the University of Colorado will celebrate the 50th anniversary of what is widely regarded as one of the most memorable games in the school’s storied football history. The day was Sept. 13, 1970, when fifth-year head coach Joe Paterno brought his Penn State Nittany Lions west into Boulder’s Folsom Field to take on Coach Eddie Crowder and his Buffaloes in Colorado’s thin mountain air.

It was indeed a rare western appearance for the powerhouse Nittany Lions who came into the nationally televised game ranked No. 4 in the nation and riding an impressive 30-game unbeaten streak. Penn State was loaded with star power, especially in a backfield that featured future NFL hall of famers Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell. Throw linebacker Jack Ham and quarterback John Hufnagel into the mix, and it was easy to see why the Lions were thought to be an almost unbeatable force.

CU was ranked No. 18 and had its own share of athletes that would occupy professional rosters upon graduation. Cliff Branch was a speedy receiver that ended up as an Oakland Raider, Jon Keyworth helped rush the Broncos to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, defensive lineman Herb Orvis starred with the Detroit Lions, and safety John “Bad Dude” Stearns actually ended up in the big leagues of baseball, landing with the New York Mets as a catcher.

To the surprise of the entire college football world, the Buffs pounced all over the heavily favored boys from State College, Pennsylvania. The final score of 41-13 was indicative of a game that CU completely dominated. The following week, the cover of Sports Illustrated pronounced loudly “Colorado Buries Penn State.” Though the big win vaulted the Buffs into the national spotlight, the season as a whole ended up being somewhat less than the lofty expectations of fans following the win against Penn State. CU went on to post a pedestrian 6-5 record, culminating with a loss to Tulane in the Liberty Bowl.

We may not get to see Ralphie the Buffalo run around Folsom Field this fall, but at least for one day this Sunday some of the old time CU fans can think back on the big game against Penn State that put the Buffs on the college football map.

“Tom Terrific”

Hall of Fame New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver recently passed away at the age of 75. Whenever I see that one of the sports stars from my childhood is gone, it brings back memories from a special time of my life.

I loved baseball as a boy, and I loved the Baltimore Orioles. Tom Seaver and his 1969 “Miracle Mets” were responsible for taking down my Orioles in the ’69 World Series in what is still thought of as one of the biggest upsets in series history.

The O’s were practically flawless with stars at every position, but the Mets, who achieved the first winning record in the franchise’s history that year, brushed them aside in winning four games to one to claim baseball’s championship.

I was just 8 years old at the time, and I don’t remember much about those games other than the wonderful voice of NBC announcer Curt Gowdy, and a twisting and turning catch that Mets outfielder Tommie Agee made that thwarted a Baltimore comeback and any hopes of winning the World Series. I wore my Orioles hat almost everywhere back then during the summers of my youth. Now, almost 52 years later, I still wear the orange and black hat with the funny bird on the front quite often. The memories of the games fade, and the players all eventually have to go away, but the little boy or girl can remain in everyone if we allow them to.

Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.


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