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The Crying Game

Who's to blame for the CU-CSU melee?

By halftime, CSU led 28-0 and the rout was on. The Rams' booming end-zone cannon was getting such a workout it seemed the barrel would melt, and Colorado's pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns were small consolation for Barnett. While Mace victims gasped for breath just beyond the door, CU football's new fearless leader acknowledged that he'd been thoroughly blindsided, too: "You've got to blame me and you've got to blame my players for the way we played," he said. "We have to find out why this happened. This is going to hurt. It's going to hurt a lot, as it should."

Ranked twelfth in one pre-season poll and number fourteen in another, the Buffaloes found themselves in oblivion on Monday morning, with another game to play Saturday against San Jose State.

In the south-end locker room, far from the tear gas, no one was crying. "What can you say about our football team?" an exultant Lubick asked. "It was just a complete domination of the football game. I have to be honest: These guys surprised me...We played without two of our starting offensive linemen, and our kids just out-hearted and out-gutted 'em... Some of our younger kids, their eyes were this big going into the game, but as it went on, they got their confidence. They wanted to throw their bodies in there."

Throw them they did. But for the CU scores in sloptime, the Rams had a real chance of ending a streak of 122 straight games in which Colorado has scored. Had that happened, CU alumni wouldn't have Maced Barnett; they'd have sent him to the gas chamber.

Thirteen-point underdogs, the Rams rose up much the way CU did last year when they beat favored CSU in the first Mile High game by a nearly identical score, 42-14. "I don't wanna sound like 'To the victor goes the spoils,'" Lubick said. "But we put some pressure on [quarterback Moschetti]. We had him rattled a little bit. Last year he had us rattled. It's funny how much difference a year makes."

Gary Barnett's still hoping for a difference. A disciplinarian who visited every player's parents over the winter and put his new team through three-a-day practices this summer, he is supposed to be the savior of Buffalo football. But losing to CSU for the first time in nine years while opposing fans throw whiskey bottles at your players does not constitute a good start. At halftime, long before the cops took out their nightsticks, press-box wags were cracking wry jokes about the guitar-strumming, feel-good policies of former CU head coach Rick Neuheisel, perceived as a cream puff.

"Maybe Gary should take 'em on a raft trip at halftime," one said. "Bet he won't be playing the ukulele when this one's over," said another.

By the time the tear gas cleared and the crying game stopped Saturday night, you had to wonder if Neuheisel, now head coach at the University of Washington, had watched Barnett's CU debut on the boob tube.

Probably thought the whole thing was a riot.

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