Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer ( PAUL AIKEN )

It would be easy to mock the postgame scene at Folsom Field.

Storming the field after beating a two-win Arizona team? Really?


As one fan said while watching the Buffs' fete at Folsom Field: "This is as cool as it gets."

Colorado desperately needed something to celebrate. The senior class certainly deserved to walk off the home turf for the final time wearing winning smiles.

Tyler Hansen was asked how long he would soak up Saturday's triumph over the Wildcats before turning the page. Before he could answer the question, an animated Mike Bohn stepped in to finish the interview.

"Forever," CU's athletic director said. "What are you talking about? You're going to have this forever, you senior stud."

Jon Embree had the group's back all season.

After CU's cathartic 48-29 victory, the first-year head coach addressed the media with all 28 seniors flanked behind him.

"I'm proud of these guys," Embree said. "I love them."

There hasn't been a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings for this senior class over the last four seasons.

As freshmen, they suffered through seven losses, including a 58-0 vanquishing at Missouri.

As sophomores, they suffered through a nine-loss disaster that included a 54-38 loss at Toledo.

As juniors, the epic collapse at Kansas (CU coughed up a 28-point lead in the fourth quarter) led to an in-season coaching change.


And as seniors this fall, missed opportunities (Cal, Washington State), missing players (CU had lost 90 games to prominent players due to injury entering Saturday's game) and mismatches (Stanford, Oregon, USC) added up to a 1-9 record before the gale force winds of change finally arrived at Folsom Field.

"We could have easily quit," senior defensive back Travis Sandersfeld said. "But we still have the drive and the passion to end it on a three-game win streak."

No CU team has ever gone winless at Folsom Field. The last time the Buffs did not win at least one home game was during the 1920 season.

"That's a lot of history," Hansen said. "We didn't want to be those guys. We didn't want to be that senior class that didn't do anything for the program. We don't want to be those guys. We wanted to do something. We wanted to have a legacy. ...

"Our legacy was, we haven't had one. We were trying to find something. I think today was real important for that."

The Buffs did not forget the words to the fight song. It could be heard loud and clear as it echoed through the walls of the Dal Ward Center.

Fittingly, the elder statesmen had their fingerprints all over the win.

Hansen ignored the 60 mph gusts and threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 50 yards and caught a touchdown pass.

Rodney Stewart threw the score to his signal caller and swarmed the defenders from the desert with 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Toney Clemons added five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Sandersfeld finished with 11 tackles, including three for loss, with a sack and an interception. Jason Espinoza followed up his interception of USC star Matt Barkley by intercepting Arizona's Nick Foles, another future NFL quarterback. Josh Hartigan added a timely sack.

"It's great to do it with these guys around me," senior right guard Ryan Miller said. "You couldn't ask for anything else."

If nothing else, this close-knit band of Buffs provided Embree with his first career coaching win (Sept. 18 vs. Colorado State) and CU's first Pac-12 win.

Hansen began "Senior Day" in tears and ended it with a guarantee that the 22-game road losing streak is about to be history.

"We are not going to lose on the road. We are going on the road and we are going to get it done," Hansen said. "We are going to send these underclassmen off with a three-game winning streak."

Wins over Rick Neuheisel's up-and-down UCLA squad at the Rose Bowl and fellow conference rookie Utah in Salt Lake City would certainly create some momentum for the coaching staff and the returning players.

It's still going to take some time to rebuild the program. But these seniors deserve to celebrate the fact that they helped provide the first two bricks and are inspiring their teammates to finish the season with some more November masonry.

"It means a lot," Embree said. "I know this is something they'll remember forever."