EZ Mortgages

#1 Nebraska – A record quarter dooms Buffs’ upset bid

// Oct 22 - 1983

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October 22nd – @ Nebraska           #1 Nebraska 69, Colorado 19

Colorado, 2-4 and on a three game losing streak, next faced the undefeated and #1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln. History did not favor the Buffs, as Colorado entered the contest 0-7 all-time vs. #1 ranked teams, including two previous attempts against Nebraska. Nothing changed in 1983, as Colorado fell to Nebraska, 69-19.

The Cornhuskers in 1983 were loaded. Quarterback Turner Gill, I-Back Mike Rozier, Wingback Irving Fryar, and fullback Mark Schellen were being compared, at least by the Sports Information Department in Lincoln, to the “Four Horsemen of Notre Dame”, the legendary 1925 Irish backfield immortalized by Grantland Rice. The comparison was not without merit. The Huskers were 7-0 on the 1983 campaign, boasting a nation’s best 17-game winning streak overall. The Buffs were struggling, and all indices pointed toward a 16th-consecutive win against Colorado. The Nebraska faithful showing up for Homecoming were not expecting to leave disappointed.

They didn’t.

To be fair to Coach McCartney and the Buffs, the Husker crowd had to be somewhat restless during the half-time festivities. While the Homecoming King and Queen were being paraded around Memorial Stadium, a quick glance at the scoreboard would have shown an apparent typo – Nebraska 14, Colorado 12. A Dave Hestera five yard touchdown catch with 1:30 left in the second quarter had brought the Buffs within range, and only a failed two point conversion separated Colorado from being tied at the half with the #1 team in the nation.

Then the roof fell in.

What the Huskers accomplished in the third quarter sent everyone in the press box to the record books. Nebraska scored 48 points in the quarter, setting a Big Eight record for the most points ever scored within any 15 minute frame. By the time the dust had cleared, the Huskers looked like a #1 team, posting a 69-19 victory.

Another record day

 

Where to begin? The 48 points in one quarter was just a missed extra point away from tying the all-time NCAA record for points by one team in one frame. Nebraska’s 55 second half points broke the mark of 48 set by Oklahoma against Colorado in the infamous 1980 game. The 69 point total was at the time a record for the Huskers for both points in Memorial Stadium and points scored against a Big Eight opponent.

The Cornhuskers also set an obscure NCAA record which still stands: Most Points Scored in a Brief Period of Time. Nebraska scored 41 points in just 2:55 of possession time in the third quarter. The scoring drives read as an apparent series of misprints. Nebraska scored touchdowns in the first six drives of the third quarter, and no drive took as much as one minute of possession time. No drive took over three plays to accomplish its goal. For the record, the Cornhusker drives took, in order: two plays (67 yards); three plays (24); two plays (28); one play (34); three plays (43): and two plays (14). The final drive of the quarter, not counted in the NCAA record (too pedestrian, perhaps) took a whopping five plays and 1:19 off the clock (48 yards).

As had Bill McCartney’s first squad, the Buffs had played the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers close for a time, but had eventually succumbed to superior talent. The 69-19 loss was not unexpected, but the 55-7 debacle in the second half made the loss all the more difficult to take. Citing the 12-14 deficit at half-time as a sign of better things to come rang hollow. Still, McCartney had to try. “I believe they were scared at the half, whether they admit it or not” said McCartney. “If I had done a better job of play selection, we would have been ahead at the half … I feel bad for our kids, because they played so hard.

After a fast 2-1 start, Colorado had dropped four straight. Returning to Boulder, the Buffs would be a part of a third straight Homecoming contest. Perhaps serving as the host would bring a welcome change of luck.

Game Notes –

– First half statistics were very favorable for the Buffs. Colorado, down 14-12 on the scoreboard, had more first downs (14 to 13), more total offense (197 to 190) and a huge lead in time of possession (18:45 to 11:15).

– Colorado surprised Nebraska with a two tight end, one running back formation. It was successful for the most part, as Colorado generated 398 total yards. Of course, Nebraska ended up with 609 total yards of offense.

– The 1983 Nebraska team would go on to finish the regular season undefeated. The Cornhuskers, though, came a two-point conversion attempt away from winning a first national championship for head coach Tom Osborne. The failed conversion attempt gave Miami a 31-30 win, and the Hurricanes first-ever national title.

– Nebraska was the only ranked team played during the 1983 season. The last time the Buffs went an entire season playing only one ranked team was in 1968, when the Buffs fell, 27-14, to third-ranked Kansas.

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