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Throwback Thursday: Cornell Football Kicks Off a Rocky Season against Buffalo

On this day in 1964, the Big Red football team surprised the college football world by tying the University of Buffalo 9-9 in their first game of the season. The game showcased Cornell’s powerful defense as they stopped countless Buffalo drives. This was especially impressive as they had scored 35 points against Boston University just one week prior. Much of the defense power came from lineman Dudley Kaufman.

This game was also notable as it was the first starting appearance of quarterback Marty Sponaugle. He had 23 carries for 93 total yards. The Buffalo opener marked the beginning of the most impressive season of his career, as he went on to rush and receive for 273 yards and six touchdowns that season. In this game, while he threw for 319 yards, he only gained one touchdown. Back in the 1960s, quarterbacks ran the ball much more frequently than they do today. However, his performance was undercut by frequent fumbles and three delay of game penalties due to difficulties changing teams.

The kickoff to the 1964 season showed potential that the Big Red team did not live up to for the rest of the season. The team went on to have a record of 3-5-1, but had two games where they lived up to their potential. First, they shutout the University of Pennsylvania team, beating them 33-0. Second, they defeated Columbia by a whopping 57-20. Overall, the Cornell football season of 1964 was one of untapped potential, with  brief moments of triumph.   

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