Pac-12: Rashaan Salaam
Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam says the game meant more to him than winning the Heisman. Michigan assistant Greg Mattison says it still feels as if it all happened 10 minutes ago.
Twenty years ago today, the No. 7 Colorado Buffaloes shocked the nation -- and the Big House -- when they rallied from a 12-point deficit with less than three minutes left to beat the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines on a last-second, 64-yard Hail Mary. The college football world will forever remember the play as the Miracle at Michigan.
Wolverines players were beside themselves. Linebacker Jarrett Irons says he never thought they would lose the game. Defensive back Chuck Winters says one Michigan assistant just “went off” on players in the locker room and had to be pulled away.
No one thought the play was possible. Buffaloes quarterback Kordell Stewart evaded a three-man rush and then hurled the ball nearly 70 yards, before one wideout tipped it and wideout Michael Westbrook pulled it in.
Those interviewed say they’ve never experienced anything else quite like that in their lives. Said ABC sports commentator Keith Jackson: “It’s part of your soul the rest of your life.”
Click here to read the oral history of the Miracle at Michigan, from the time before the catch to the actual catch, immediate aftermath and long-term impact.
At least one reader pleaded for some consideration of Salaam, and not without justification. In 1994 he was just the fourth player to rush for more than 2,000 yards (2,055) in a season. This was before bowl games counted, which has served to inflate recent numbers.
Salaam, who won the Heisman over Penn State great Ki-Jana Carter and an impressive list of other players, led the nation in rushing, scoring (24 touchdowns) and all-purpose yards (213.8). He played for a team that finished 11-1 and ranked No. 3 in the final polls. But it wasn't just about his numbers or his team's success. It was about quality opposition.
Colorado played six ranked teams -- three top-10 teams -- during the first eight weeks of the season. Through eight games, Salaam had rushed for 1,390 yards; 1,041 against ranked teams. That's 173.5 yards per game against ranked foes.
That crew of Buffs, by the way, was a heck of a collection of players, particularly on offense. Early in the season, it wasn't easy to figure who the team's top Heisman candidate was: Salaam, quarterback Kordell Stewart or receiver Michael Westbrook. Westbrook made "The Catch" at Michigan that season, one of the all-time great college football stunners. By the way, Salaam had 141 yards in the Big House, more than any visiting back since Ohio State's Archie Griffin in 1973.
The next weekend at Texas, Salaam rushed for 317 yards, with a school record 362 all-purpose yards.
The only time he was held to fewer than 100 yards was against Wisconsin. Of course, he did score four touchdowns against the Badgers.
Salaam hit 2,000 yards in game 11. How? With 1,988 yards entering the fourth quarter, he took a pitch against Iowa State and raced 67 yards for a touchdown.
Here's the game-by-game for Salaam's 1994 season, with his carries, yards and touchdowns.
- Arizona has lots to clean up after a scrimmage. Good guy defensive coordinator Tim Kish is smiling, despite a daunting schedule.
- Arizona State seems to be in a good place with Brock Osweiler at quarterback. Cornerback is an issue, though.
- Remember when California running back Trajuan Briggs seemed like a budding star? Doesn't seem that way any more. But the freshmen are looking as advertised -- very good.
- Colorado coach Jon Embree lays into his team for a mediocre effort (maybe he should give some to the school's overzealous parking enforcement, too). It doesn't appear Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam is sentimental about his Heisman Trophy ring.
- Beyond X's and O's, Oregon needs to develop chemistry and leadership. Center might be the biggest position of competition. A Ducks practice report.
- Oregon State defensive tackle Dominic Glover says he has no worries about his academics. And in further good news, things are looking up at receiver, in more ways than one. Checking in with tight end Joe Halahuni.
- Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck isn't perfect. Yeah, right. Here's a big reason -- a 6-foot-8 reason -- that the Cardinal is stacked at tight end.
- UCLA gets some roster additions who should help immediately. Wait, injury news for the Bruins and it's good? Things must be turning around in Westwood. Some practice notes.
- A true freshman might start on USC's offensive line. It seems like USC has plenty of good running backs.
- Utah's ability to compete in the Pac-12 has meaning outside of Salt Lake. The Utes are taking things slow with quarterback Jordan Wynn. A young receiver not lacking in confidence.
- Washington expects a tight end revival. A practice report. The Huskies have found toughness and hope, what else do they need?
- Practice Day 3 for Washington State. If you want a lot of detail, go here. Where's the beef? Well it's right here.
- Here's a nice list of potential breakout players in the Pac-12.
It's about 50 great college players who never made a mark in the NFL.
So far the only Pac-12 players noted is former Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam at No. 42, but there will be more ahead. Trust me.
Pat Forde wrote this about Salaam:
In 1994, Salaam rushed for 2,055 yards. At the time it made him just the fourth player in FBS history to break the 2,000-yard barrier. The previous three (Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier and Barry Sanders) all won the Heisman Trophy, and Salaam did the same.
Then he turned pro, and the glory didn't go with him. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie for the Chicago Bears, but injuries and fumbles curtailed his career. He played three seasons with the Bears, bounced around with a couple more NFL teams, dabbled in the CFL and XFL and was out of the game.
- Arizona State may be losing ground on a top O-line recruit to USC and UCLA.
- An argument for California coach Jeff Tedford to again call plays. More on the departure of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
- Colorado is now all about functional conditioning. The Buffaloes only Heisman Trophy winner, Rashaan Salaam, returns to the fold.
- A review of Oregon's defensive line (and if you like to go in-depth, Moseley's position-by-position series has been outstanding).
- Oregon State DT Stephen Paea looks to make an impression at the Senior Bowl. Some Beavers are on the run.
- A vote of confidence for new Stanford coach David Shaw. And here is a plan to fill up the stadium.
- Is Randy Shannon UCLA's new defensive coordinator?
- More on Stafon Johnson's lawsuit vs. USC. Another recruiting profile of a future Trojan.
- There's a comfort-level for Norm Chow at Utah. Chow talks to Petros & Money about leaving UCLA and returning to his alma mater. What Chow's return means for Utah.
- What's left for Washington recruiting?
- Not everyone thinks a one-way trip to Auburn in 2013 is such a good idea for Washington State.
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State