BOULDER, Colo. — Nebraska didn’t just get beat Saturday. The third-ranked Huskers were Buffaloed.
Colorado held the nation’s highest-scoring offense without a point for the first 44 minutes and used two trick-play touchdowns and the second-longest field goal in CU history to stun the previously unbeaten Huskers 20-10.
Many in the sellout crowd of 52,440 minus about 15,000 red-clad Nebraska fans swarmed onto the Folsom Field turf at the end to revel in the historic win.
The victory was CU’s first over Nebraska since a 21-16 triumph in 1967. It ended a 12-game losing streak to Nebraska in Boulder dating back to 1960.
And it might prove to be a launching pad for a CU program that since the mid-1970s has searched desperately for something to ignite it.
“This is a moment in our program we’ll always cherish,” CU Coach Bill McCartney said. “It indicates we can beat a great team. And up to this point, I don’t think we had beaten a great team.”
And it was a beating. Just ask NU Coach Tom Osborne.
“We came out second best in all three phases offense, defense and the kicking game. We had a lot of players who didn’t have their best games.
“The only thing we can do is give Colorado credit,” Osborne said. “They played a great football game and deserved to win.”
How great? It wasn’t crushing, but the advantage was clear.
Colorado, now 3-4 after an 0-4 start, outgained Nebraska 263 total yards to 246, just the third time anyone has done that in the past four seasons. The others were Oklahoma in 1985 and Syracuse in 1984.
The Buffaloes, 3-0 in the Big Eight, outrushed the Huskers 182 yards to 123, NU’s low mark since gaining 110 in a 20-3 loss to Alabama in 1978. They had fewer turnovers, a better punting average, more time of possession and 10 tackles for losses.
The Buffs also had three official sacks to none for Nebraska, now 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Eight. But the statistics failed to note two giant CU sacks in the final 16 seconds the north and south goal posts, the first time that’s happened in Boulder since CU upset Oklahoma 42-31 in 1976.
Colorado’s control of the game the Buffs never trailed and followed both Nebraska scores with scores of their own meant the Huskers accepted the loss without any weeping or gnashing of teeth.
“Everybody knows we got our butts beat,” said center Jeff Sellentin, who made his first career start in place of Mark Cooper, hobbled by a sore ankle. “It happened right out there in front of everybody. What else is there to say?”
“They obviously beat us on both sides of the ball,” Osborne said. “We didn’t move the ball well enough to sustain anything. We were making 2 yards on first down, and that’s not characteristic of us. That’s a tribute to their defense.”
It also is a sign of a sputtering offensive line.
“I guess that’s one of the most frustrating things about this football team at this point seeing linemen get pushed around,” tackle Tom Welter said. “I played a terrible football game. I’m ashamed of it. And I’m sure the whole offensive line is.”
Defensively, Nebraska didn’t allow a sustained touchdown drive.
The big plays were a 39-yard end around and a 52-yard halfback option pass for touchdowns.
“Overall, we played pretty well,” linebacker Marc Munford said.
“But we had two big breakdowns and that’s 14 points. And that’s more than we scored.”
Nebraska didn’t go down without a fight.
The Huskers trailed 7-0 after the first quarter when CU freshman Jeff Campbell romped 39 yards on an endaround play for his first career touchdown.
The deficit grew to 10-0 by halftime when Dave DeLine 4 of 10 in field goals before Saturday bashed a 57-yarder with a 22-mph wind at his back. It was 1 yard shy of the longest in CU history.
Still, there was confidence in the NU locker room at halftime.
“I’ve been around here when we’ve scored 21 points in less than two minutes,” Munford said. “I knew we could come back. It was just a matter of getting it together.”
The Huskers looked ready to roll late in the third quarter when defensive end Broderick Thomas recovered his third fumble of the game — this one a bobble by CU quarterback Mark Hatcher at the Buffs’ 14.
Fullback Micah Heibel ran for 11 yards and I-back Tyreese Knox for 1 before quarterback Steve Taylor rolled into the end zone from the 2. Dale Klein’s extra point cut the gap to 10-7 with one minute left in the third quarter.
Colorado took just three plays to retaliate.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman halfback O.C. Oliver rolled right and threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to split end Lance Carl to make it 17-7. Some NU defenders appeared to freeze on the play after a couple of Huskers jumped offside.
Nebraska bounced back to move 58 yards in seven plays, with runs of 24 yards by Taylor and 21 by Knox the big plays. But NU stalled at the 11, and Klein kicked a 29-yard field goal to cut the gap to 17-10 with 12:14 to play.
Again, Colorado came right back, moving 62 yards in eight plays to the NU 18. The Huskers stiffened there, so DeLine kicked a 35-yarder to make it 20-10 Colorado with 7:44 left in the game.
A blocking-below-the-waist penalty on the ensuing kickoff forced Nebraska to start on its own 9. But Taylor found wingback Dana Brinson for 36 yards on the first play to get out of the hole.
Four plays later at the CU 33, Taylor dropped back and tried to hit split end Rod Smith. But CU linebacker Barry Remington intercepted with 3:14 to play, bringing the day’s loudest roar from the CU fans, many who were on their feet much of the game.
“All that emotion they had gave me a bad feeling,” NU cornerback Charles Fryar said. “Things just weren’t going our way. Even one time when I looked up at the sky, it was sunny on their side and shady on ours.”
Nebraska got the ball back once more with 1:28 to play, but couldn’t get past its own 47.
Colorado had threatened to stretch its 10-0 halftime lead on its first two possessions of the third quarter, but cmae up empty both times.
The Buffs held the ball for 12 plays and moved from its own 35 to the NU 16.
After a holding call pushed Colorado back to the NU 24, fullback Anthony Weatherspoon fumbled into the air. Hatcher reached for the ball, but dropped it and Thomas recovered.
But Nebraska fumbled the ball right back.
On a reverse, Brinson sprinted 13 yards and had two men to beat to open field. One of those defenders, safety Rodney Rogers, forced a fumble and Mickey Pruitt recovered at the NU 40.
Colorado moved to the 23, but stalled. DeLine missed wide left on a field-goal try from the 42.
Nebraska wobbled through a first half in which a shanked punt and a lost fumble set up Colorado scores and an interception stopped a Husker threat. NU also missed a field goal just before halftime.
The game began as a punting contest, with each team stopped on its first two possessions.
But on Nebraska’s second punt, John Kroeker shanked the ball off the right side of his foot out of bounds for just 15 yards, setting Colorado up at the NU 46.
Two offside penalties on Nebraska got the Buffs their first 10 yards. After stopping Oliver for a 3-yard loss, the Huskers appeared to have Hatcher wrapped up for another loss on an option.
But the junior got his right arm free from middle guard Danny Noonan and Thomas to pitch the ball on a reverse to Campbell.
“I had a hold of Hatcher,” Noonan said. “Nobody gave the reverse call, and I didn’t know what was going on. I just turned around after throwing him down and saw the guy running the other way.”
The freshman cut up the west sideline behind a wall of blockers and raced untouched to the 7, where he met NU safety Bryan Siebler.
Campbell broke Siebler’s tackle and dived into the end zone. DeLine’s extra point made it 7-0 CU with 4:39 left in the first quarter.
After another exchange of punts, Nebraska made its first move into CU territory.
On a second and 10 at the NU 36, Taylor rolled right for 15 yards and got a 15-yard bonus to the CU 34 when Buffs safety John Nairn was called for a late hit.
But two plays later, on the first play of the second quarter, Taylor rolled left under pressure. He threw wide of an open Jason Gamble and CU cornerback Solomon Wilcots intercepted at the 16 and ran it back 9 yards.
The teams exchanged punts, then Nebraska stopped CU at its 23.
Barry Helton boomed a 64-yard punt with the wind, but Brinson brought it back 25 yards to the Colorado 47.
Taylor’s 11-yard pass to Keith Jones moved NU to the CU 32. But two plays later, Taylor was hit trying to spin away from the pass rush, he fumbled and defensive tackle Curt Koch recovered the backward bobble at the NU 45.
Three Colorado plays produced 5 yards, but DeLine came on to make his 57-yarder with 10 yards to spare, putting the Buffs up 10-0 with 4:33 left in the half.
Nebraska got a break with 1:18 remaining in the half when Thomas recovered an Oliver fumble at the CU 27. But Jones’ 3-yard loss and two incomplete passes forced the Huskers to try a field goal. Klein’s 47-yarder into the wind fell short about 2 yards deep in the end zone.
Taylor had his worst day statistically at quarterback. The sophomore completed 7 of 21 passes for 102 yards and two interceptions. He rushed 13 times for 27 yards.
Osborne said Taylor had problems but wasn’t alone.
“We didn’t play as well at a lot of positions today as we need to play,” he said. “It certainly wasn’t any one person’s fault.”
Osborne said his message to the team after the game was simple.
“I just told them we’ve still got a chance to have a very fine football season,” he said. “How they react to this is going to be critical.
“If they redouble their efforts and become a good practice team on Monday and play well, we can still have a great season. But this obviously hurts badly.”
|Yards per carry||3.1||2.9|
Nebraska is 49-20 all-time against Colorado.
|Florida State||Sept. 6|
|South Carolina||Oct. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 11|
|Kansas State||Nov. 1|
|Iowa State||Nov. 8|
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