Ducks, Buffs Ready For Biggest Of 15 Meetings

Dec. 27, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. - It might be a stretch to call it a rivalry when two teams have met only twice since 1987. Oregon and Colorado have played some memorable games, though.

The No. 2 Ducks (10-1) and No. 3 Buffaloes (10-2) could be playing for a chance at The AP media poll share of the national championship when they face off in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

Oregon has extra motivation to win this game. The Ducks were pounded the last two times they played Colorado - 38-6 in the 1996 Cotton Bowl, and 51-43 in the 1998 Aloha Bowl.

'It's just been a real bitter, bitter thing,' said senior defensive tackle Chris Tetterton, who grew up in Eugene and knows the Oregon-CU series well.

Both coaches played down the significance of any rivalry, because only a handful of players on both sides were around for that Aloha Bowl.

'Those things are way in the past,' Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said.

Colorado's Gary Barnett said his team has a lot in common with Oregon. Both started getting good in the 1980s, and are trying to prove themselves on a national stage.

'I think that we have a similar path, and that bonds us more than makes us a rival,' Barnett said.

Many Oregon fans haven't forgotten The Fake, however. In the 1996 Cotton Bowl, Colorado's then-coach, Rick Neuheisel, called for a fake punt with 1:11 left, even though the Buffs had a big lead.

'It sticks with guys who watched that game,' said Tetterton, who was 16 then. 'That was a rotten thing to do.'

Less than three years later, the teams hooked up again in Honolulu, and the game began with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Colorado's Brian Kelly. The Buffs built a 44-14 third-quarter lead and held on to win by eight.

'It was just a shootout,' said Dan Graham, Colorado's All-American tight end, who caught a touchdown pass in that game. 'They have some guys who played in that game, so they'll be trying to beat us because we beat them last time.'

Colorado holds an 8-6 lead in the series, winning the first game in 1949. Colorado won five of the next six, and Oregon won four of five after that. They played four straight years from 1984-87, and although Oregon won three of them, the games were decided by a total of 16 points. They didn't play again until the Cotton Bowl.

Tragedy touched the rivalry Sept. 15, 1984. As the Buffs were trying to drive for the tying touchdown in the final two minutes, tight end Ed Reinhardt was hit in the head by an Oregon defensive back's thigh. A blood vessel burst in Reinhardt's brain, and he was in a coma for two months.

An Oregon booster donated the money to fly Reinhardt's parents to Eugene. He came out of his coma, but it took years for him to walk and talk again.

'I think there's a bond that was formed with Oregon back in 1984 when Eddie Reinhardt got hurt, and I think it's been a real respectful bond,' Barnett said.

By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer

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