October 30th – Boulder #6 Nebraska 21, #20 Colorado 17
For the first 14 minutes of the 1993 Colorado/Nebraska game, only one team played like it had something to prove – Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers, 7-0, 3-0 in conference play and ranked 6th in the nation, were nonetheless 1-2-1 against Colorado since 1989. In the first quarter, Nebraska sent a message that it was back on top of the Big Eight, racing out to a 21-3 lead. After Nebraska stopped the Buffs on the first offensive series of the game, a 68-yard punt return by Corey Dixon set up the Cornhuskers on the Colorado four yard line. On the Cornhuskers’ first play from scrimmage, Calvin Jones scored, and it was 7-0, Nebraska, less than two minutes into the game. A 60-yard bomb from Tommie Frazier to Dixon gave Nebraska a 21-3 lead with five minutes still to be played in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Rashaan Salaam, earning his first career start, brought the Buffs closer. The sophomore tailback finished off a six-play, 63-yard drive with a 15 yard run to pull the Buffs within 21-10.
Even though over two-thirds of the game remained to be played, the scored remained 21-10 for most of the rest of the contest. Colorado’s much-maligned defense more than held up its end after the first quarter, shutting out the Cornhuskers for the final three periods.
As had been the case against Miami, Stanford, and Kansas State, the Nebraska game would come down to the final minutes, with Buff fans again coming away disappointed. After being held to just 18 total yards on its first five drives of the second half, the Buffs’ offense found a new gear, pushing the ball downfield 80 yards in 15 plays. Salaam, who would register 165 yards on 25 carries on the day, posted his second score of the day with a 1-yard run up the middle. 21-17, with 2:54 still to play.
Needing a stop, the Buffs’ defense rose to the occasion, sacking Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier on third down to force a punt. Chris Hudson returned the kick to the Buffs’ 47-yard line, and Colorado was in business with 1:41 remaining.
A 13-yard pass from Kordell Stewart to tight end Christian Fauria put the Buffs on the Husker 40 yard line. The Buff Nation was prepared for a memorable comeback.
But that would be as close as the Buffs would come. On the next play, Stewart attempted to hit Sean Embree over the middle, only to be picked off by Nebraska cornerback John Reece.
Game over. 21-17, Nebraska.
“I can’t remember being this disappointed,” said a quiet head coach Bill McCartney after the game. “I thought we’d win.” The loss was especially hard on the defense, which had come of age after spotting Nebraska 21 points (one score came after a punt return to the Buffs’ four-yard line, another on a 60-yard bomb).
“It’s worse (than the 52-7 loss to Nebraska in 1992)”, said senior linebacker Sam Rogers. “Our defense played its heart out after the 21 (point) spot and we just came out on the short end of the field. This is my last year, so there’s nothing I can do about it. It hurts, it hurts a lot.”
52,277 mostly upset fans filed out of Folsom Field the day before Halloween, 1993, wondering what else could go wrong with the season. Colorado was now 4-3-1 overall, and the 20th-ranked Buffs would be lucky just to stay ranked in the polls. (As it turned out, the Buffs were fortunate, as 22nd-ranked Michigan State and 24th-ranked Michigan also lost, allowing Colorado to continue its school-record run of consecutive poll appearances, coming in at No. 23).
National and Big Eight Conference Championships were no longer possibilities for the 1993 Colorado football team.
The question now was whether the Buffs could re-group and go bowling for the sixth-consecutive year.
Game Notes -
– Sophomore tailback Rashaan Salaam earned his first career start against Nebraska in 1993, replacing Lamont Warren. Salaam did not disappoint, rushing for 165 yards on 25 carries. Warren, relegated to backup, had three rushes for 16 yards.
– Senior cornerback Dennis Collier had an interception for the second week in a row against Nebraska. Collier would go on to finish the season with four interceptions, tying Chris Hudson for the team lead in that category. Collier, who had come to Colorado as a running back, earned honorable mention All-Big Eight honors as a defensive back in 1993.
– Junior quarterback Kordell Stewart had his worst game of the season against Nebraska. Stewart completed just eight of 28 passes for 115 yards, throwing a season-high three interceptions. Stewart also had his only negative rushing day of the season. With four sacks included, Stewart ended the afternoon with ten rushes for a minus-two yards.
– Sophomore nose tackle Kerry Hicks, conversely, had one of his best games of the 1993 season against Nebraska. Hicks finished with 14 tackles, including ten solo tackles (both personal season highs). At the end of the season, the Big Eight coaches voted Hicks onto their first team All-Big Eight defense.
– Nebraska would go on to finish the 1993 regular season with an 11-0 record, completing a sweep of Big Eight rivals. Ranked No. 2 in the nation, Nebraska represented the Big Eight in the Orange Bowl, facing off against No. 1 Florida State. The Seminoles prevailed, however, 18-16, giving Bobby Bowden his first national championship. Nebraska finished the 1993 season with an 11-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking (just behind Notre Dame, which defeated Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl to finish off an 11-1 campaign of its own).