October 29th – @ Nebraska #3 Nebraska 24, #2 Colorado 7
Like many over-hyped Super Bowls, the Game of the Year failed to live up to advance billing, as Nebraska methodically took care of business, defeating Colorado 24-7 to take the inside track to the Big Eight and National Championships. Led by quarterback Brook Berringer, subbing for injured starter Tommy Frazier, the Cornhuskers built a 17-0 halftime lead. The Nebraska offense was not flashy, but it was effective, keeping the ball for 21:27 of the first half clock.
The Buffs did have their chances. In the third quarter, Nebraska’s defense stopped two Colorad drives on fourth down, first at the Cornhusker 35-yard line, the second at the Nebraska 21. The fourth quarter was a repeat of the third, as Nebraska stopped the Buffs on two more fourth down attempts.
Colorado’s offense, so dominant in recent weeks, was kept in check. Rashaan Salaam did pick up 134 yards and a score, but the Buffs could manage only 155 yards total on the ground. “Other than Nebraska’s fine play, I really don’t have any explanation for why we didn’t play well,” said Colorado head coach Bill McCartney. “They just outplayed us.”
Buff players, who saw their chances at a Big Eight title and a shot at the national title eliminated in one afternoon, did not have any explanations, either. “They made some great plays against us that we shouldn’t have allowed,” said senior linebacker Ted Johnson. “We got too far behind and couldn’t come back.” Defensive tackle Darius Holland was more succinct: “They totally and honestly just whipped our ass.”
What had seemed to be a charmed season was now seemingly in ruins. CU fell to #7 in the polls, and was now 7-1 (3-1 in the Big Eight). A 7-1 record from a team which had been 8-3-1 in 1993, considering six of the first eight games had been against ranked opponents, was not bad at all. But with the Orange Bowl and the National Championship now out of reach, the question had to be asked:
I don’t think we’re a candidate to win the National Championship at this point,” said a disappointed McCartney after the Nebraska loss. “But we are a candidate to go to a January 1st or 2nd bowl and play a great opponent. We still have that to look forward to.” Most likely was a trip to Tempe, Arizona, for the Fiesta Bowl. “We have the first pick on Colorado if they are not the Big Eight champs,” said Fiesta Bowl representative John Junker. “So we’d have to pass on them in order for them to play in any other bowl and it’s not likely that we’ll do that.” So, three wins would likely mean a New Year’s Day date in Arizona. Three walkover wins against Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Iowa State and a game against a top tier team would mean 11 wins and a top ten finish. Not bad.
But 1994 still had so much more drama to offer.