BOULDER, Colo. — Showing off an option attack that would have made past Oklahoma teams green with envy, Colorado can finally focus fully on the opponent outlined in red on its schedule.
Rashaan Salaam, the nation's leading rusher and scorer, ran for 202 yards and two scores, and quarterback Kordell Stewart rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns, leading No. 2 Colorado to a 35-21 victory over stubborn No. 19 Kansas State on Saturday night.
Option plays produced scoring runs of 53 and 60 yards as the Buffaloes (7-0, 3-0 Big Eight) posted their 11th consecutive victory and set up next week's showdown with No. 3 Nebraska at Lincoln.
"That's my background--running the option," said Stewart, whose 60-yard run accounted for the go-ahead score with 10 minutes left. Stewart then ran seven yards with eight seconds remaining for an insurance touchdown.
"When I see a gaping hole like that, I love it," Stewart said.
Chad May's passing and two second-half scoring runs by J.J. Smith--who had three scores in all--helped Kansas State (4-2, 1-2) draw into ties on two occasions during the second half.
Stewart's long scoring run came on the fifth play of a 71-yard drive, following cornerback Elton Davis' first career interception at the Colorado 29. Stewart kept the drive alive by sneaking for a first down on fourth and one from the Colorado 38.
"It was crunch time," Coach Bill McCartney said in explaining the fourth-down decision. "I felt our defense had expended a lot of energy, and we needed to make something happen offensively. When you have a 212-pound quarterback and a good offensive line, you should be able to make a yard."
May was sidelined for several fourth-quarter plays while being fitted for a brace on his twisted right knee. He returned but couldn't move the Wildcats beyond their 15 with two minutes left, throwing four consecutive incompletions. Moments later, Stewart rolled right and scored the clincher.
"The way they played defense had us off balance," McCartney said. "I thought we would make more plays in the passing game. Obviously, we've got some work to do there.
"But I'm satisfied where we are and I feel like we're going into Nebraska with confidence. I'm not excited about playing morning football--the start time is 10 o'clock. But they do it at Wimbledon, so why shouldn't we?"
May completed 23 of 40 passes for 356 yards, but he had two interceptions and was sacked four times.