Friday, December 13, 2002
1995 - Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24
By Mike Diegnan
ABC Sports Online
Notre Dame shut down the Heisman Trophy winner, but it was Colorado's other running threat that crushed the overmatched Irish in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.
Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam was held to 83 yards on 27 attempts, but Kordell Stewart played his finest game in a Colorado uniform, crushing the Irish with 348 yards of total offense. Stewart's running and passing helped the Buffaloes build a 31-3 lead late in the second quarter. Then an aggressive defense, which was adjusted to attack Ron Powlus, silenced Notre Dame when the Irish threatened to climb back into the game.
Unranked Notre Dame, which was criticized for its selection with a 6-4-1 record, donned green jerseys for the first time since its 37-3 rout of USC in 1985, but the mystique didn't help. With Bill McCartney retiring after the game as Colorado's winningest coach, the Buffs scored on five of their first six possessions, and cruised to a 41-24 win.
"I think this is the best performance I have ever seen of another football team against a team that I have coached," said Lou Holtz.
Powlus tried to rally ND in the second half. He finished the game 18-of-34 for 259 yards and three TDs, with one interception. His one interception was a rally killer deep in Colorado territory in the second half, and McCartney's decision to play a 4-3 defensive front for the first time all season confused the Irish offense at the outset. It also increased the pressure on Powlus, who was sacked seven times.
"We knew in order to beat Notre Dame we had to keep them off balance," McCartney said. "The 4-3 concept caught them off balance and was responsible for a lot of the pressure we got."
Nonetheless, the story of the game was Stewart. The Buffaloes altered their game plan by utilizing three wideouts and one tight end instead of two tights ends. It limited Salaam's effectiveness, but Stewart capitalized by throwing for 205 yards on 11-of-20 passing. He also rushed for 143 yards on seven carries.
It started on the game's first drive when he rushed 29 yards to set up a 33-yard field goal by Neil Voskeritchtan. His 35-yard run set up the game's first touchdown, a one-yard TD pass to Christian Fauria. He hit James Kidd on the next possession, leading to his nine-yard TD run that made it 17-3. In the second half, Stewart essentially ended any chance ND had when he sprinted 41 yards to set up a field goal and threw a 37-yard pass to Kidd that led to the Buffaloes' final score.
"I just tucked it under a couple of times and their guys just missed tackles," said Stewart, who was a second-round pick by Pittsburgh in the spring of '95.
So the Slash career got its jump-start …
|Lou Holtz's Irish could not stop Kordell Stewart.|
McCartney left Colorado as the school's winningest coach with a 13-year record of 93-55-5. Rick Neuheisel took over the day after the game.
Salaam, who scored three touchdowns, announced that he would forego his senior year at Colorado to enter the NFL draft after the game. "There's nothing left for me to do on the college level," he said. Salaam was taken with the 21st pick of the first round by Chicago. His unsuccessful NFL career ended in 1999 with Green Bay. He played 33 games and rushed for 13 TDs.
Mike Diegnan is the college football editor for ABC Sports Online.