' ' Cinema Romantico: My Favorite College Football Games: Game 2

Saturday, September 07, 2019

My Favorite College Football Games: Game 2

August 31, 2002: Colorado State - 19 Colorado - 14

Rivalries are the lifeblood of college football, whether contested within state lines or just across the border, bad blood often correlating to events off the gridiron, like border disputes dating all the way back to the Louisiana Purchase adding ornery color to Texas v Oklahoma, imparting the game’s expansive sense of history and regionalism. These are Super Bowls, each and every single one unto themselves, and while ESPN might most trumpet the rivalries occurring near year’s end on its trademarked Rivalry Weekend, the truth is one of these rivalries can pop up on the schedule any week, underlining how a team’s biggest game of the season can refreshingly stand apart from the Bigger Picture. Rivalries like Colorado and Colorado State, traditionally contested on the first weekend of the season and always infused with acrimony, though especially so during the 90s and early aughts when each team was riding high.

If Colorado was resting on its pre-season laurels in 2002, ranked in the Top 10, their arch-rival Rams disabused them of those misplaced notions, going up 13-0 at the half, falling behind 14-13 midway through the 4th quarter, and then coming right back 84 yards in 7 scintillating plays to win 19-14 on the strength of Colorado State’s swashbuckling quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt scoring from 23 yards out with a run that was as much a sashay, dashing left and then slicing back right, a Colorado defender nipping at his heels the whole way though never able to get all the way there for a tackle. And as Van Pelt crossed the goal line, rather than spike the ball off the turf as is traditional, he turned 180 degrees and, in a move suggesting a more gladiatorial version of a Nebraska Cornhusker before my time, Jarvis Redwine, he of the mellifluous moniker, turning around against rival Oklahoma in 1980 at the end of an 89 yard touchdown run to wag his finger at the ill-fated defender in his wake, spiked the ball directly off the helmet of the haplessly trailing Colorado Buffalo.

It inevitably engendered accusations of classlessness, just as Ohio State’s Marcus Hall engendered accusations of classlessness when, in his game against arch-rival Michigan in 2013, he flipped off the entire Michigan Stadium crowd, of which the esteemed Charles Pierce wrote “I know I’m supposed to be outraged by this, but I can’t be. That would require me to be a TV drone and worry about things like The Image Of The Sport. Marcus Hall lived the dream of every Ohio State fan since the series began in 1897.” Indeed. Van Pelt was merely channeling the fury undoubtedly coursing through the veins of the entire crowd at the neutral confines of Mile High Stadium Invesco Field. And besides, the referee didn’t even throw a flag, proof the cosmos took no offense.

And if I can’t recall how either’s team 2002 season finished, I will never forget exactly how they began, a Super Bowl played Week 1 with nothing on the line but getting to triumphantly conk your opponent in the head with the ol’ pigkskin, a prize more eternal than any stupid sterling silver trophy.

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