November 2nd – Boulder #15 Colorado 19, #9 Nebraska 19
In the bitter cold of Folsom Field, Colorado and Nebraska fought to a 19-19 tie in a classic college football game.
The tie was preserved for Colorado when senior free safety Greg Thomas blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by Nebrasak kicker Byron Bennett as time expired. Three successive time outs by the Buffs prior to the attempt served to freeze not only the Cornhusker kicker, but also the sell-out crowd of 52,319 who had braved the cold to attend.
The last seconds of the contest will be most remembered, but there were other moments of excitement as the game witnessed a number of momentum changes. Both teams scored on their first possession, with Nebraska posting a field goal before the Buffs responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive to take the lead. Darian Hagan did the honors from 11 yards out to give the Buffs a 7-3 lead. Midway through the second quarter, Jim Harper hit on a 27-yard field goal to up the Colorado lead to 10-3.
Just before half, Nebraska seemed to take the momentum, as Nebraska quarterback Keithen McCant hit split end Jon Bostick for a 49-yard touchdown. Nebraska was a PAT away from tying the score at 10-10 with just 1:17 before half, but the Buffs had other ideas. Sophomore defensive tackle Jeff Brunner blocked the extra point attempt, with linebacker Greg Biekert scooping up the ball and racing 85 yards for a rare defensive extra point. The two point play netted the Buffs a 12-9 halftime advantage.
Nebraska tied the score with a 35-yard Bennett field goal in the third quarter before Colorado regained the lead, 19-12, late in the stanza on a four-yard run by Hagan. A seven-yard score by Nebraska’s Derek Brown tied the score at 19-19 with 6:41 to play. Each team had chances to pull out the win in the game’s final minutes, with Nebraska having the best chance before Thomas’ heroics preserved the tie for Colorado. Nebraska got the ball with about a minute to play, and made it as far as the Colorado 23-yard line, but was unable to pull out the victory.
“We don’t go out in that kind of weather to play for a tie,” said McCartney after the game. “We played for a win. I’m disappointed with a tie anytime, but we’re still very much in the Orange Bowl picture.” Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne was similar in his comments: “We still have a good shot at the Big Eight championship. Naturally, the tie hurts. But I guess it beats the alternative.”
Both Nebraska and Colorado were 3-0-1 in conference play. The Cornhuskers still had Oklahoma to play, but a win over the Sooners would likely give Nebraska the Orange Bowl bid. Overall, Nebraska was 6-1-1 to Colorado’s 5-2-1. With the tie, Nebraska fell to 11th in the polls, while Colorado rose to 14th. “Basically, the most weight is put on the highest-ranked team,” said Orange Bowl President Harper Davidson. “But we still have 3-4 weeks of the season left, and a lot of things could happen.”
You Tube Highlights of Greg Biekert’s two-point conversion
The good news was that the Buffs had extended to 19 their unbeaten streak (as opposed to winning streak, which came to an end at school record 18 straight) in conference play. The Big Eight championship and a return to Miami were still in order. The bad news was that, for the first time in three years, the Buffs would need help. Colorado would need for Kansas, Iowa State, or – most likely – Oklahoma to step up and beat or tie Nebraska for Colorado to earn its third consecutive undisputed title.
None of the above would matter, though, if the Buffs did not hold serve and win out in its three remaining games. Oklahoma State, 0-7-1 on the season, was up next, followed by Kansas (4-3, but with wins over the likes of Toledo and Tulsa), and Iowa State (3-4-1). All that the Buffs could do was remain focused on the task at hand, and not worry about whether the Cornhuskers were doing the same.
Did someone say “stay focused”?
- The tie would not prove to be the last in Colorado history. Before the NCAA instituted an overtime format, the Buffs would tie Kansas State, 16-all, in 1993.
- The only other tie in the Colorado/Nebraska series occurred in 1952, when the teams battled to a 16-16 tie in Boulder.
- The three-game streak against Nebraska without a loss was the first for Colorado since the Buffs won three games in a row against the Cornhuskers between 1956-58.
- The Nebraska game was the only game of 1991 in which the Buffs did not commit a turnover.
- Colorado held Nebraska to just 112 yards rushing, less than a third of the Cornhuskers’ nation-leading average. Nebraska would end the year with a 353.2 yards per game average, over 15 yards per game better than the nation’s No. 2 rushing team, Air Force.
- Senior quarterback Darian Hagan scored both of the Buffs’ touchdowns on the evening. His only other rushing touchdown all season came in the season-opener against Wyoming.
- The defensive extra point by linebacker Greg Biekert was the first – and only – defensive extra point in Colorado history. For his efforts, which included ten tackles (eight unassisted), Biekert was named the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Week. Biekert would go on to lead the team in tackles in 1991 with 139.
- Junior safety Eric Hamilton joined Biekert in double digits in tackles against Nebraska, with ten (six unassisted). Hamilton would go on to join Biekert, nose tackle Joel Steed, and center Jay Leeuwenburg on the All-Big Eight first team.
- The game time temperature (12 degrees/cloudy skies/wind chill of minus-eight degrees) was the coldest in Colorado history. The previous record for games played in the cold was a 1959 game against Nebraska played in Lincoln (19 degrees), with the previous low record in Boulder coming in a 1985 game against Kansas State (24 degrees).