Salaam's 20th Anniversary Heisman Season, Texas
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Salaam's 20th Anniversary Heisman Season, Texas

BOULDER—After nearly a month away from the friendly confines of Folsom Field, Rashaan Salaam and the Buffs finally returned home to take on the 22nd-ranked Oklahoma Sooners before what would be a sell-out crowd and a national television audience.

Salaam had run roughshod over opponents to that point in 1994 on his way to 839 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns through the first five games. But, it appeared to many that with the Sooners arrival would come one of the early season’s stiffest challenges.

In two previous encounters with the Oklahoma defense, Salaam had been held to just 58 rushing yards and one touchdown. Even more eye opening though may have been what the OU defense did in their last trip to Boulder. In a week 6 nationally-televised night game in 1992, they actually managed to hold a Buffs’ running game that averaged nearly 130 rush yards per game coming in, to a paltry 27.

A similar scene would play out on this night as the Sooners and Buffs would again meet in week 6 before a national audience under the light of Folsom.

CU would come in armed once again with a powerful rushing game headed by Salaam, who needed only 141 rush yards to become the quickest to ever rush for 1,000 in CU history.

On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma came equipped with one of their trademark hard-nosed defenses. The matchup had all the makings of a classic back and forth slugfest in the trenches.

“They have a typical Oklahoma defense,” said CU head coach Bill McCartney. “Their linebackers are very fast, their secondaries are aggressive. I’m just real impressed with their defense.”

The team that got the upper hand in the matchup would certainly go a long way towards winning the game.

Instead of materializing into an epic struggle, the matchup quickly became one of the most one-sided whitewashings in the 80 year history of the series, led by the spectacular exploits of Salaam and his assertive offensive line.

By the midway point of the first quarter, it had become painfully evident as to just how much the Buffs were consistently controlling the line of scrimmage. On their second drive of the game, CU went 67 yards in just five plays mostly on the strength of a 36 yard run by Salaam that ended on the OU 7-yard line. On the very next play, instead of stepping to the sidelines for a breather, Salaam plunged across the goal line for the game’s first points.

After forcing the Sooners into back-to-back three and outs sandwiched around a fumble by punt returner Chris Hudson, the Buffs took over again near midfield and proceeded to once again establish control in the all-important battle up front.

They ran the ball seven times in eight plays on the subsequent drive, six of which were handled by Salaam. The drive came to a close with yet another seven-yard touchdown scamper from Salaam and a 14-0 lead.

By the end of the first quarter, the Buffs had officially hit the century mark on the ground, 99 of which were credited to Salaam, while OU had yet to gain their initial first down of the game.

Quarter number two featured the continuation of that recurring pattern of CU linemen trampling OU defenders ahead of a free-roaming Salaam. The running back would go on to add two more touchdowns and 54 more rush yards to his totals by halftime.

With a day’s work already in hand, Salaam carried the ball twice more in the third, then sat for the remainder of the game as his Buffs enjoyed a 28-0 lead.

Salaam finished the game with 161 rush yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries as the Buffs trounced the Sooners 45-7.

He had officially topped the 1,000 yard mark in just six games while he continued to set the pace for most of the nation’s other top performers. His performance brought with it even more talk of his winning the Heisman Trophy but, as he did all year, Salaam continually deflected such conversation.

“It was a team playing out there,” said Salaam. “It wasn’t just me. It must be viewed as a team effort.

After the game, OU head coach Gary Gibbs could do nothing but applaud the all-around brilliance that Salaam and his offensive line displayed on a nearly flawless night.

“He’s a great player,” Gibbs said. “He’s everything we talked about during the week. They did a great job up front. Their offensive line is outstanding. Salaam is a great back and this is an outstanding offensive football team.”
Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and Chargers.com. He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer, MLB.com, Rivals.com and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications


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