EZ Mortgages

Nebraska – 65-51 win sends the Buffs bowling; Cornhuskers packing

// Nov 23 - 2007

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Preview of the Nebraska game

The bitter taste of the Iowa State loss still lingers. Will the Buffs bounce back against the Cornhuskers? Will the Buffs have enough offensive firepower to post that elusive sixth win and gain bowl eligibility, or will ‘07 play out the same disappointing way that the 1997 and 2003 seasons came to a close?

Read The Entire Preview!…

Review of the Nebraska game

The Buffs defeated the Cornhuskers, 65-51, in a wild game at Folsom. The win gave CU a bowl bid as the Buffs hit the magic number of six wins on the season. But at halftime, it certainly didn’t look like the Buffs and their fans would be excited about the bowl announcements next weekend ….

Read The Entire Review!…

Trivia you’ll want to remember – Nebraska

How many National Championships have the Cornhuskers won? How many Heisman trophy winners have worn the scarlet and cream?

Which of the following NCAA records does Nebraska not hold? 1) Consecutive winning seasons; 2) Consecutive wins over an opponent; or 3) Consecutive weeks in the Associated Press poll?

* Bar Bet Winner – Which of the following nicknames was not used by Nebraska’s teams?: 1) Bugeaters; 2) Treeplanters; 3) Rattlesnake Boys; 4) Red Knights; or 5) Antelopes? (yes, that means the other four were used as Nebraska nicknames!)

Read Trivia…

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”

Who to root for this weekend? Well, the Buffs would prefer not to land in Houston or Shreveport, and hope for a return trip to Tempe. What games will impact which bowl Colorado is offered Sunday? By the way, do you know which Mountaineers you should be cheering for this Saturday? ……

Read On…

Going Down in History

Who may be passed on the all-time list this week – and why you should remember them.This week we focus on two current Buffs, one at the close of his career; the other just getting started.

Hugh Charles is ranked 7th on the all-time career rushing charts. He will likely get to #6 (passing James Mayberry), but will need a 200-yard game to catch #5, Chris Brown. Take a look at some of the names in the top ten on the all-time list.

The second Buff highlighted is quarterback Cody Hawkins. Though just a freshman, Hawkins is poised to move into the top ten on the all-time passing yardage list. He will need over 300 yards passing to pass the current #10, one Randy Essington. For those Buff fans old enough to remember CU’s powder blue uniforms of the early 80’s, this is a name which brings about a wry smile ….

Read This Moment in History…

Archive Game of the Week

The Buffs entered the 1986 game against Nebraska 2-4. Wins against Missouri and Iowa State had CU 2-0 in the Big Eight, but this was as much due to scheduling as to any improvement by the Buffs [Missouri would finish the ‘86 season with a 3-8 record; Iowa State, 6-5]. Nebraska, ranked third in the nation, could not have not been impressed by CU’s unblemished conference record. Like the Buffs, Nebraska had a 2-0 conference record, but the Cornhuskers were 6-0 overall, having won their first six games by an average score of 41-16. If that wasn’t daunting enough, the Buffs were faced with the fact that no Nebraska squad had lost to Colorado since 1967. The last win by the Buffs in Boulder had come way back on October 22, 1960, when Eisenhower was still President. Now a third year law school student, I was not confident that this would be the year that things would change.

Go To The Archived Game of The Week…


Nebraska Preview

As the Colorado Buffaloes were taking the field against the Iowa State Cyclones on November 10th, a few hundred miles away, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Cornhusker faithful were saluting their seniors as Nebraska took the field against Kansas State. There were four different scenarios for the outcomes of those two games – three of which were acceptable for Buff fans. Had both teams won, the CU/Nebraska matchup the Friday after Thanksgiving would feature an already bowl-eligible Buff team. Had both teams lost, the Buffs would still be fighting for a bowl berth, while the 4-7 Cornhuskers would enter Folsom Field knowing that their season would be finished in a few hours. The best scenario, of course, would have been a Colorado win and a Nebraska loss.

Sadly for the Buff Nation, though, the final – and only harmful – scenario was the one that played out. To make matters much worse, the games could not have been more devastating for CU. The Buffs squandered a 21-0 lead against the Cyclones, giving up 31 unanswered points in a 31-28 loss. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers, left for dead on the heels of a five game losing streak and a record-setting 76-39 loss to Kansas, dismantled Kansas State, 73-31. Now, what had looked like a Colorado celebration of the downward spiral of the Nebraska program, has turned into a one game playoff for bowl eligibility. A one game playoff in which Nebraska, of all teams, has the pre-game momentum.

How well will Colorado play after such a mind-numbing loss? Will the Buffs’ players be able to come out with disciplined enthusiasm? Will the Nebraska players, anxious to make a bowl appearance themselves, forget the devastating losses of the past two months, and send the Buffs to their locker room to pack up their uniforms until spring?

Not to throw a wet blanket on an already dying fire, but we have been here before. In 1997, the Buffs were 5-5 heading into the Nebraska game. At stake was a bowl berth for the Buffs. Colorado had played in a bowl game every season from 1988-96, and had not had a losing campaign since 1984. Colorado fell to #2 Nebraska, though, 27-24, to end its season, 5-6. Nebraska, meanwhile, went on to win the National Championship.

The 2003 season has even greater parallels to the 2007 campaign. Colorado came into the home finale against Nebraska 5-6. A win would mean bowl eligibility, just like this year. In ‘03, the Buffs fell to #25 Nebraska, 31-22, to finish 5-7 and out of the bowl hunt. What makes the reference to the 2003 game chilling, though, is what happened next. Despite the win over Colorado, Nebraska fired its head coach, Frank Solich, the very next day. One of the worst kept secrets in college football is the likelihood that Solich’s replacement at Nebraska, Bill Callahan, will not be retained as the Cornhuskers’ head coach following this season. Will 2007 play out like 2003, where the Buffs fail to beat the Cornhuskers, yet the Nebraska coach gets fired anyway?

Wouldn’t it be better if the Buffs actually assisted in the process this time?

Okay, so what will the Buffs have to do to end the season on a high note? Let’s look at the statistics:

Win the turnover battle. No surprise here. Colorado is -7 in turnovers on the season, and is ranked 99th in turnover margin in the NCAA. This is a number the Buffs have struggled with all season. Here’s the kicker, though. Know which team is worse in turnover margin than Colorado? Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are a wretched -14 in turnover margin, 115th in the nation (out of 120 teams). Whichever team can break their season-long trend of turning the ball over more than their opponent will likely be your game winner.

Run, run, and then run some more. Nebraska is 114th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 228.1 yards per game on the ground. The Cornhuskers are 111th in total defense, surrendering 473.1 yards per game. If the Buffs can control the ball, they will not only wear down the “Black Shirts”, but they will keep Nebraska’s high powered passing offense (11th in the nation) off the field.

Score when the opportunities present themselves. Colorado is successful in scoring only about 75% of the time they are inside the opponents’ twenty yard line. That doesn’t sound too, bad, until you realize that scoring three quarters of the time in the red zone is the second worst average in the conference (ahead of only Baylor. Overall, over half the teams in the conference are putting up points over 87% of the time). Reason for solace? Guess which team is worst in red zone defense in the Big 12? Correct again – Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are surrendering points over 90% of the time opponents reach their 20 yard line. With a Big Red offense, despite all the team’s difficulties, scoring over 30 points per game on the season, the Buffs cannot afford to not score when given the chance.

Play the third quarter. Now here is a novel concept. The Buffs have not fared well on the scoreboard in the third quarter this season, being out-scored by an outrageous total of 123-59. This deficiency has only been magnified in the past two games. Against Missouri, the Buffs were out-scored 17-0 in the third quarter; against Iowa State, 21-0. Suffice it to say, such numbers against Nebraska would be devastating.

Three-and-outs will the season prematurely. Against Missouri, the Buffs went three-and-out on offense on six consecutive possessions between their last possession in the first quarter (which ended in a fumble), and their third possession of the third quarter (which ended in an interception). In between, CU was out-scored 31-0, turning a 10-7 lead into a 38-10 rout. Against Iowa State, the Buffs had four consecutive three-and-outs (okay, CU did run four plays on the first drive of the half, but that includes the momentum changing failed fourth-and-one attempt at the CU 43 yard line). By the time Colorado had its first first down of the second half, the 21-0 lead had evaporated into a 24-21 deficit. Obviously, such offensive droughts against Nebraska will send the Buffs and their fans home mumbling about what could have been.

It is hard to believe that the Buffs will not be ready to play against the Cornhuskers. Even in down years, and even when Nebraska has placed considerably more talent on the field, Colorado has played the Cornhuskers tough (witness the ‘97 game, noted above). What I am anxious to see, though, is how the Buffs react after they have taken the first shot to their collective chins. Nebraska will score on the Colorado defense (especially if All-Big 12 candidate, cornerback Terrence Wheatley, cannot play or is limited in his effectiveness), but how will the Buffs react? Will the Buffs fade, as they did in their last two games against Missouri and Iowa State? Or will they continue to fight it out, as they did after falling behind Oklahoma by 17, only to win on the game’s last play? Conversely, how will the Cornhuskers play? They were great front-runners against Kansas State, but they did not show great resiliency when confronted with adversity in the five game losing streak leading up to the win over the Wildcats. Which Cornhusker team will play in Folsom this weekend?

Well, I guess that’s why they play the games. There is just too much riding on this game for CU not to come through. The Iowa State game can either be the catalyst for wiping out all of the postive strides made in the first half of the season, or it can be motivation for starting the Buffs on a postive run into next season.

The first game of the 2008 season is this Friday. Go Buffs!

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Nebraska Review

November 23rd – Boulder Colorado 65, Nebraska 51

Colorado evened its season record at 6-6, and its Big 12 mark at 4-4, with a record-setting 65-51win over Nebraska. The Buffs put up the third highest point total ever against the Cornhuskers over the course of almost four hours before a frigid Folsom Field crowd of 51,403. With the win (combined with a loss by Kansas State to Fresno State), the Buffs earned a bowl berth in the second season of the Dan Hawkins’ era, while simultaneously helping to seal the fate of Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan, who was dismissed by interim athletic director Tom Osborne the day after the game.

Given that the Nebraska defense came into the game ranked near the bottom nationally in most defensive categories, including rushing defense (114th out of 120 teams), total defense (111th), and scoring defense (105th), combined with a Colorado defensive unit which had surrendered 31 points to Iowa State in the second half of the Buffs’ previous game, predicting a shootout for the season finale was not difficult. The 116 points and 1,128 yards of combined offense, however, was more than anyone could have reasonably foreseen. “No lead is safe”, could well have the been the ABC promotional campaign for the Friday morning game between two 5-6 teams battling for a bowl bid, as both teams would surrender double digit leads before the game was over.

Colorado scored on its first three drives of the game, but no one in the stands wearing black and gold felt overly confident. After forcing a three-and-out by Nebraska to start the contest, the Buffs quickly drove down the field, with a pretty 33 yard pass connection from Cody Hawkins to tailback Hugh Charles placing the Buffs at the Cornhusker 11-yard line. The CU drive stalled, though, and the Buffs settled for a 25-yard Kevin Eberhart field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Nebraska quickly retaliated, needing only four plays to drive 67 yards to make the score 7-3, Nebraska, with quarterback Joe Ganz scoring on a 28 yard run.

Then it was the Buffs’ turn to respond. An 11-play, 74-yard drive was capped off by a Cody Hawkins five yard quarterback draw to put CU back on top, 10-7. After a Nebraska punt, Dusty Sprague finished off a 52-yard drive with a four yard run to give the Buffs a 17-7 advantage. Before the quarter was over, though, Nebraska cut the lead to 17-14 with a Marion Lucky two yard score.

The second quarter was almost all Nebraska, as the CU faithful began to wonder if the Buff defense would ever stop the Cornhuskers. After Nebraska’s second touchdown, the Buffs punted on three consecutive drives, allowing the Cornhuskers to take control. The Cornhuskers took a 21-17 lead on another rushing touchdown by quarterback Joe Ganz, this time from eight yards out. Next, Ganz connected with Maurice Purify for a 25 yard score to push the NU lead to 28-17. Then, after the Buffs had seemingly righted the ship just before halftime, with Cody Hawkins hitting tight end Tyson DeVree from 11 yards out to make the score 28-24, Nebraska, with 1:25 before halftime, moved quickly down the field, as the CU defense again was unable to hold back the Cornhusker offense. Nebraska needed only four plays and just over a minute of clock to cover 71 yards, with Ganz connecting with wide receiver Todd Peterson from 16 yards to make the score 35-24 with 23 seconds to play in the first half.

The carnage was there for anyone who wanted to look at the halftime statistics: 35 points surrendered by the Buffs; 19 first downs; 398 yards of total offense. Those were more than decent full game stats, and Nebraska had compiled those numbers in 30 minutes of play. When combined with the 31 points given up in the second half of the Iowa State game, the CU defense had now yielded 66 points in the last 60 minutes of play. The Colorado offense had held its own, putting up 24 points, but there were few in the stands who would have predicted what would happen over the course in the second half.

The second half would be the last thirty minutes of play for one of the two teams, and at halftime it looked as if that team would be the Buffs.

The second half opened innocently enough. The Buffs managed one first down to open the stanza before punting the ball back to the Cornhusker offense. Then, after two penalties turned a third-and-two into a third-and-twelve for Nebraska, unknown CU freshman cornerback Jimmy Smith made the play of the game. Smith, who was playing in his sixth game of the season, but had only been in on three tackles all year, intercepted a Joe Ganz pass and returned it 31 yards for a Colorado touchdown. The score was now Nebraska 35, Colorado 31, and there was new life on the CU sidelines.

The Smith touchdown seemed to unnerve the Cornhuskers, as Nebraska, which had been so dominant in the second quarter, fell apart in the third. On Nebraska’s next play from scrimmage, Ganz was intercepted again, this time by senior safety Lionel Harris, setting up the Buffs at the Nebraska 33 yard line. The Buffs needed only four plays to take the lead back, 38-35, as Hugh Charles scored from nine yards out. Down for the first time since early in the second quarter, Nebraska netted one first down before being forced into punt formation. The kick, though, was blocked by CU senior defensive end Alonzo Barrett, with Jordon Dizon recovering the ball at the NU 25 yard line. Again, the Buffs only needed four plays to score. After an apparent touchdown pass from Cody Hawkins to Dusty Sprague was ruled down at the one yard line, Hugh Charles scored his second touchdown of the game. A missed extra point by Kevin Eberhart only slightly diminished the celebrations in the stands. A halftime deficit of 35-24 had turned, in less than ten minutes of playing time, into a 44-35 lead.

The Buffs were not done yet.

After forcing a three-and-out by the now rattled Nebraska offense, the Buffs put together an impressive 10-play, 84-yard drive to take a commanding 51-35 lead early in the fourth quarter. Cody Hawkins connected for his second touchdown pass of the game, this time hitting fellow freshman Scotty McKnight for a ten yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter. After an exchange of punts, CU sophomore cornerback Cha’pelle Brown put the game out of reach. Brown picked off Joe Ganz at the CU 47-yard line, returning the Nebraska quarterback’s third interception of the half 51yards to the Cornhusker two yard line with 4:20 to play. A Hugh Charles two yard touchdown run, the third score of the day for the senior running back, gave Colorado a 58-35 lead, and the celebrations in the stands began in earnest as those clad in red made their way to the exits.

In the last two minutes of play, Nebraska scored two consolation touchdowns (with two point conversions). Sandwiched in between was a 28-yard touchdown run by senior running back Byron Ellis. When the Buffs recovered the Cornhuskers’ second onside kick in as many minutes to seal the game, the final score of 65-51 could finally be entered into the record books.

“We just wanted to win,” said Dan Hawkins after the game. “I thought our offense did a great job in the second half, and started wearing on them. Also, our defense came up with some turnovers which was big. The thing I am most proud of is seeing those seniors in the locker room pull this team together and come out in the second half strong. That was huge.”

The Colorado senior class, though relatively small, did itself proud against Nebraska. All-Big 12 cornerback candidate Terrence Wheatley did not play, but his fellow defensive star, linebacker Jordon Dizon, had 14 tackles in his Folsom Field finale. Senior safety Lionel Harris had his second interception of the year, and the fourth of his career, against the Cornhuskers. Senior defensive end Alonzo Barrett contributed three tackles, also contributing a blocked punt for the second time this season.

On the offensive side of the ball, five seniors scored against Nebraska. Kicker Kevin Eberhart, who labored behind All-American Mason Crosby for much of his career, finished with a team high 84 points on the season, hit on 15 of 23 field goal attempts on the year, including a 25 yarder against Nebraska (though Eberhart did miss his first extra point of the season after hitting his first 35). Wide receiver Dusty Sprague scored on a running play against the Cornhuskers, and had a touchdown catch reversed by instant replay. Sprague finished his career ranked 9th both in career receptions and receiving yards at CU. Senior tight end Tyson DeVree scored on an 11-yard pass from Cody Hawkins in the second quarter against NU, giving DeVree team high six touchdown catches on the year. Senior running back Byron Ellis, who had over 500 yards rushing in his career, saved his best effort for his last play at home. Ellis’ 28 yard touchdown run with 1:23 to play, the fourth touchdown of his career (third rushing), was his longest play from scrimmage as a Buff.

Then there is Hugh Charles. What more can you say about Hugh Charles? Charles had 169 yards on 33 carries against Nebraska, scoring three times. Charles also had a 33-yard catch and 125 yards on five kickoff returns, giving the senior 327 all-purpose yards on the day, only the 7th time ever a CU player has had over 300 yards of total offense in a single game. Charles finished just shy of 1,000 yards rushing on the season (989), a remarkable number considering Charles, due to injury, had only four carries in the first three games of the season.

While there were significant contributions by the seniors, there was still much to look forward to for the Buffs. The win over Nebraska made Colorado the Big 12’s eighth bowl-eligible team, and, when Kansas State fell to Fresno State in its finale to fall to 5-7, the number remained at eight. The bowl sight and opponent were yet to be determined, but that mattered little to the Buffs. “A bowl game is like a vacation,” said junior defensive tackle George Hypolite. “As long as it’s not home, it’s great.”

Great, indeed. At halftime at Ames against Iowa State, the Buffs were up 21-0, and a bowl bid seemed to be the least of their worries. At halftime at home against Nebraska two weeks later, after the Buffs had squandered the halftime lead against the Cyclones and had surrendered 35 points against the Cornhuskers, a bowl bid seemed like a distant dream for next year’s team. A 34-0 run gave the Buffs a new life, and new hope for the future.

Whew!

Confession time.

At halftime of the Nebraska game, the Buffs were down 35-24, and I confess I wasn’t thinking of ways the Buffs could make their comeback. Rather, I was trying to think of ways to put a positive spin on a season which was 30 minutes from its conclusion. After all, the CU defense had given up touchdowns in three consecutive drives to close out the first half, and there was little reason to believe that there were miracles coming after the break. Colorado had been out-scored by an unbelievable tally of 123-59 in the third quarter over the course of the season, and had been out-scored 31-7 by Iowa State in the second half of their last game. The reality of a 5-7 finish to the season was setting in, along with the equally sour thoughts of Nebraska (and perhaps Kansas State as well) playing in a bowl. Yuck!

I was not a happy camper.

My mood was not enhanced by my surroundings. First, my feet were getting cold. (Note to self: Apparently, wearing an extra pair of socks is insufficient protection if you are planning on standing on a glacier for four hours). Plus, the seniors in the CU band, for their finale, had chosen a Chuck Mangione tune to inspire the crowd (Note to band members: Chuck Mangione? In November? In the snow? Really?).

A happy camper celebrates the look of the scoreboard

A happy camper celebrates the look of the scoreboard

So, as I wallowed, I tried to come up with something positive to write about after the game. A sampling:

5-7 is certainly better than 2-10 (we’ll try to ignore November – the blowout loss to Missouri, the collapse against Iowa State, and the 1-5 finish after a 4-2 start);

there were a number of freshman records set, which bodes well for the future (or condemns the Buffs to a span of mediocrity);

there were no scandals in the newspapers to contend with (though the trial against the University still looms);

the Flatirons, blanketed in frost, made for a magnificent view outside the stadium (sorry, Husker fans, no such beauty outside War Memorial Stadium. Been there; seen that); and

well, at least we weren’t firing our coach on Saturday, and we weren’t Notre Dame.

Slim pickings for a team which had shown such promise early on, a team which had left Lubbock with a 5-3 overall record. Still, that is all we would have left. A long, cold, winter of what coach Hawkins and his son the quarterback had said several times during the season: “woulda, coulda, shoulda”.

Now the 2008 preseason magazine spin, regardless of the outcome of the bowl game, will be positive.

How is: “Colorado finished third in the Big 12 North with a 4-4 conference record, moving up from a fifth place finish last year, and looking to make a move on the title in ‘08?,

vs. “Colorado finished with a 3-5 record in the Big 12 North, tied with Kansas State and Nebraska, teams which both beat the Buffs in ‘07. It looks like another year of struggle just to get to .500 in Boulder”?;

or: “Colorado showed its progress and new maturity by overcoming double digit deficits to both Oklahoma and Nebraska, and by beating Texas Tech on the road”,

vs. “Colorado fell apart at the end of the season. A 4-2 opening was wasted with five losses in six games to close out the year, including blow out losses to Kansas State, Missouri, and Nebraska”?

There is so much to look forward to over the next nine months which wouldn’t have been there had the Buffs not staged their comeback against the Cornhuskers.

Here’s what we have to look forward to now:

the Buffs remain in the national conversation for the next month;

recruiting can’t help but be enhanced;

15 extra practices for a young team are nothing if not a bonus;

Colorado can finish with a winning season, avoiding consecutive losing seasons for the first time in 22 years;

the Buffs will be one of those “up and coming” or “sleeper” teams for ‘08; and best of all – Nebraska has to deal with a losing season for only the second time in the past 46 years (and in both 2004 and 2007, it was losses to the Buffs on the last game of the year which sent the Huskers home for the holidays!!).

The cold feet were certainly worth all of that.

Extra Points

Hugh Charles – so many milestones. His 2,659 career rushing yards rank Charles sixth on the all-time rushing list. He joins Bobby Purify as only the second Buff to have over 2,500 yards rushing and over 500 yards receiving (552) in a career. His 169 yards against Nebraska give him 11 career 100-yard games, tying him for fifth on that list. Charles’ 327 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) against Nebraska give him 3,622 for his career, moving him from sixth to second on that list (behind only Eric Bieniemy at 4,351). (Note: CU does not count bowl statistics on all-time lists, so these are final numbers).

Dusty Sprague – finishes ninth in both receptions for a career (103) and reception yards (1,261).

Jordon Dizon – finishes third in all-time tackles (442), just ahead of Greg Biekert, and just behind Matt Russell and Barry Remington.

The Baby Buffs, led by quarterback Cody Hawkins, set a number of freshman records, who has over ten all to himself. Scotty McKnight won the freshman receiving battle, finishing with 488 yards. Both McKnight and Josh Smith (451 yards) bested the old freshman season record of 337 (set by Chris McLemore in 1982).

In addition to the freshman records, Hawkins also set a school record for passing attempts in a season (424), surpassing Joel Klatt’s record of 400 set in 2005. Hawkins finished the year with the second most completions ever (239 to Klatt’s 241); tied for third in yards with 2,693, and fourth in touchdowns (19). Hawkins also had 15 interceptions, one off the school record (but he did finish the season without an interception against either Iowa State or Nebraska – 70 passes overall). Hawkins is already ranked 11th on the all-time passing list at CU (too bad he is too short and can’t throw the deep ball!).

Colorado is now 4-4 against Nebraska in the 2000’s, the best decade record for the Buffs since going 6-3-1 against the Cornhuskers in the 1950’s.

The 51 points given up to Nebraska was the highest total for an opponent in a CU win since the Buffs gave up 47 in a 50-47 overtime win over Kansas in 2003.

The 3:56 in game time was the longest ever for a non-overtime game for the Buffs (the CU/CSU game in 2003, a 42-35 CU win, went 3:53. The Buffs’ 46-39 overtime win over Missouri in 1999 took four hours).

The weather (24 degrees; 12 mph winds) was not even the coldest CU/Nebraska game. That honor goes to the 1991 game (officially 12 degrees; wind child of -8).

The combined total yards for both schools, 1,128 (610 for Nebraska; 518 for Colorado), was the most since CU (767 – a school record) and San Jose State (507) combined for 1,274 yards in 1999 (a 63-35 CU win).

The 116 combined points by CU and NU trail only the 124 total points in the infamous 82-42 Oklahoma win over the Buffs in 1980.

Colorado scored in a game for the 234th consecutive time, moving the Buffs into 9th place on the all-time list (breaking a tie with Nebraska). The Buffs also moved into 4th place on the active streak list, after Oregon lost this weekend to UCLA, 16-0. Oregon’s streak was stopped at 267 games, good for 6th on the all-time list.

Elsewhere

Missouri defeated Kansas, 36-28, to claim its first Big 12 North title. In addition to winning its first football championship of any kind since 1969, the win, aided by LSU’s overtime loss to Arkansas, vaulted Missouri to #1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time since the Tigers spent one week at #1 in 1960. The loss ended the Jayhawks’ regular season with an 11-1 record. Kansas will have to wait to see whether their overall season record will be good enough for an at large BCS bid. Meanwhile, Oklahoma punched its ticket to the Big 12 title game against Missouri with a 49-17 win over Oklahoma State. The Cowboys finished 6-6, 4-4, just like the Buffs, and will also wait to see what bowl finds them attractive.

The Buffs’ best friends in the second to last weekend of the regular season were the Fresno State Bulldogs. Fresno State defeated Kansas State, 45-29, to end the Wildcats’ season at 5-7. This leaves the Big 12 with only eight bowl-eligible teams, and eight slots to fill. The Buffs are going bowling!

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Trivia you’ll want to remember – Nebraska

– National Championships – five – 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, and 1997 (the ‘97 title being shared with Michigan)

– Heisman trophy winners – three – Johnny Rodgers (1972); Mike Rozier (1983); and Eric Crouch (2001).

– Hard to believe, but there was a time when the Cornhuskers were amongst the mortals in college football. In the 1940’s, Nebraska went through six coaches and an overall .374 winning percentage.

– When Nebraska fell to a 7-7 record in 2002, a number of NCAA record streaks came to an end. Put to an end (but still records) were streaks of winning seasons, ended at 40, nine-win seasons (33), and consecutive weeks in the Associates Press poll (348).

– Nebraska holds the second and fourth longest win streaks over an opponent in NCAA history. The 36 straight wins over Kansas (1969-2004) ranks as the second longest winning streak of all-time (behind only Notre Dame over Navy, which ended at 43 this season). The fourth longest streak ever is Nebraska over Kansas State, with 29 consecutive wins (1969-1997). Nebraska’s longest win streak over Colorado was 18 games (1968-1985).

– The most famous (or infamous) nickname for the Cornhuskers, before their current name was adopted in 1900, is the “Bugeaters”. There were others, though, which are equally forgettable, including the Treeplanters, Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes, and the Old Gold Knights.

– For all of Nebraska’s success on the field, and the large number of award winners who have played for the scarlet and cream, you would think that the Cornhuskers would have a large lead on the Buffs for first round NFL draft picks. Comparably, though, the 30 picked in the first round out of Lincoln is not a great deal higher than the 22 picked in the first round out of Boulder.

– The “Blackshirts” tradition started humbly enough, when, in the 1960’s, head coach Bob Devaney began assigning black practice jerseys to the defensive starters. The tradition, though, has grown into one of great pride and tradition in Huskerland.

– Herbie, the Cornhusker mascot, was not seen on the Nebraska sidelines for a number of years. The inflatable rubber character was the butt of many jokes. Then, in 2003, the university announced that after “a rigorous exercise routine, resulting in the loss of 70 pounds of fat and an increase in 50 pounds of muscle mass”, Herbie was prepared to make a comeback. The new “Herbie” began patrolling the sidelines in 2003.

– Famous alumni – football – In addition to the three Heisman trophy winners noted above, there have been numerous national award winners and consensus All-Americans who have played for Nebraska, including Irving Fryar, Broderick Thomas, Will Shields, Tommie Frazier, and Grant Wistrom. At the head of this list, though, may be Dave Rimington, two-time All-American center. In 2000, the Rimington Award was created, given each year to the nation’s top center (in 2003, the award was expanded to give out awards in Division 1-AA and Division II).

– Famous alumni – other – Johnny Carson (entertainer), Warren Buffet (financier), and Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (general).

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The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend …

December 1, 2007

Since last Saturday, when Kansas State’s loss to Fresno State guaranteed the Buffs a bowl trip, the question has been: Where will the 6-6 Buffs land? There are three possibilities:

1) the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, against an SEC squad (the 6-6 Alabama team is the most often mentioned);

2) the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, against a Big Ten team (Purdue or Indiana the most likely opponent); or

3) the Texas Bowl in Houston (against the Houston Cougars).

The obvious reason we don’t want to go to Houston is that the bowl game would be a de facto road game; the Buffs would suit up against the 8-4 hometown Cougars from Conference USA. No one wants that scenario, but it looks like the only way that would happen is if the Big 12 receives only one BCS bowl bid when the selections are announced Sunday (the Texas Bowl gets the 8th choice from the Big 12. If two Big 12 teams are selected for the BCS, there won’t be enough bowl eligible Big 12 teams to bid for, and the Texas Bowl will have to look elsewhere – TCU is probable – for an opponent for Houston). With Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma attractive choices for the BCS, the Big 12 is likely to receive two BCS bids, regardless of the outcome of the Big 12 title game Saturday night. Hopefully, then, we can safely rule out a second bowl trip to Houston in three years.

This leaves the Independence Bowl and the Insight Bowl. The Insight Bowl gets the sixth choice from the conference, and it will likely come down choosing between Colorado and Oklahoma State, both 6-6 on the season. CU fans would much rather have the Insight bowl. First, the game will be against a Big Ten team, while the Big 12 candidate for the Independence Bowl will face an SEC team. The SEC was much stronger this year, and would deliver a much tougher opponent for the Buffs. Second, there is the matter of the crowd. CU has a much better fan base in Arizona than in Louisiana, and the game would be more neutral, with the Big Ten team also having to travel. A trip to Louisiana means not only a tougher opponent, but an opponent playing in their own backyard. Third, Tempe, Arizona, vs. Shreveport, Louisiana? Where would you rather go?

So, the Buffs want Tempe. Which games this weekend will help to bring that about? Also, which games will have an impact on next season and future campaigns? Read on …..

The Obvious:

Washington over Hawaii. Okay, maybe not so obvious. Hawaii is 12-0, and ranked 12th in the BCS standings. If the Rainbow Warriors defeat the Huskies, they will likely receive a BCS bid (most likely the Sugar Bowl, which has the last pick amongst the BCS bowls). The math is simple: a slot for Hawaii means one less at large BCS bid; a loss by Hawaii opens up another chance for Kansas and the Big 12 title game loser to still make one of the big bowls.

The Understandable:

Arizona over Arizona State; UCLA over USC; Oregon State over Oregon. The Pac-10 looked to be one of the strongest conferences in the country early on. USC was the consensus #1 team in pre-season, but has lost twice in conference play. Oregon looked primed to run the table after trouncing Michigan, but fumbled its chance at the national spotlight in a loss to Cal, and now has lost its quarterback and two straight. Cal, after defeating Oregon, was in line to be the nation’s #1 team (ranked #2 when LSU lost to Kentucky, but Cal lost that same night to Oregon State), and has fallen on hard times since. Arizona State was a media darling at midseason, but lost to USC by 20 points after losing to Oregon. The bottom line here? If either Arizona State or USC lose, there will be only one team going to the BCS from the Pac 10. The conference champ (a 7-5 UCLA team will earn the Rose Bowl bid if both USC and Arizona State lose) will have the Rose Bowl, but the door will be opened for a second Big 12 team to take a BCS slot.

The Obscure:

Central Michigan over Miami (Ohio); Pittsburgh over West Virginia; Appalachian State over Eastern Washington. So what about next season? And the season beyond? Four of next season’s opponents (CSU, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Nebraska) are done for the year. The other eight, including the #1 and #2 teams in the BCS, Missouri and West Virginia, are still playing. Also included on the list of teams still practicing is Eastern Washington, still alive in the Division 1-AA playoffs. The 9-3 Eagles have won five straight, and travel to meet Wolverine conquerors Appalachian State. It’s about time for our “gimme” opponent for next season to put away the gear, don’t you think? Same for Miami (Ohio). We don’t play the RedHawks again until 2009, but Miami is playing Central Michigan this weekend for the Mid-American Conference title. A win, and Miami plays in the Motor City Bowl; a loss, and the RedHawks will be 6-7 and staying home. Too early to worry about 2009? Never!! Go Chippewas!!! And Go Mountaineers !!! (that’s the Appalachian State Mountaineers, not the ones from West Virginia!).

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Going Down in History

Cody Hawkins – freshman quarterback – 2,452 yards – 11th

#14 – Zack Jordan (1950-52) 2,287

#13 – Bernie McCall (1964-66) 2,332

#12 – David Williams (1973-75) 2,449

#10 – Randy Essington (1980-82)* 2,773

*I will be cheering for Cody Hawkins to work his way up this part of the charts, if for no other reason than to bump Randy Essington out of the top ten in the CU record book. To be fair, it was not all Essington’s fault that the Buffs were so awful during his three years as the starting quarterback, but Colorado did post records of 1-10, 3-8, and 2-8-1 during those seasons. Essington’s career record of 10 touchdown passes vs. 26 interceptions speaks for itself. Essington did set the mark for pass attempts in a game, 51, in a 40-14 loss to Nebraska in 1982. That mark was tied by Steve Vogel a few weeks later in a 33-10 loss to Kansas State, but was not surpassed until 2003, when Joel Klatt had 54 pass attempts in a 50-47 overtime win over Kansas.

Hugh Charles – senior running back – 2,490 rushing yards – 7th

#9 – Bobby Anderson (1967-69) 2,367

#8 – Herchell Troutman (1994-97) 2,487

#6 – James Mayberry (1975-78) 2,544

#5 – Chris Brown (2001-02) 2,690

#4 – Charlie Davis (1971-73) 2,958

#3 – Bobby Purify (2000-04)* 3,016

*On my computer, the wallpaper is a shot of Chris Brown chugging towards the camera, on his way to one of his six touchdowns against Nebraska in the 2001 game. But my favorite of this group is Bobby Purify. Purify exemplified what was good about the CU program during a tumultuous era. Living through scandals and two losing seasons were not enough. Purify broke a bone in his foot on the first day of practice as a freshman, then suffered a season ending high ankle sprain in what was to be his senior season in 2003. Purify rebounded to lead the team in rushing in 2004, with his 1,017 marking the 12th time a CU back eclipsed the 1,000 barrier.

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