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Colorado v. Nebraska Preview – “T.I.P.S.” for the Buffs v. Cornhuskers

It’s been ten years since the Red Horde last found its way to Boulder.

And, make no mistake about it, there will be a Red Horde in Folsom this weekend.

Now, considering that CU sold over 20,000 season tickets, and sold out its allocation of 12,250 student season tickets (not to mention the extra tickets purchased by CU fans before tickets were made available to the general public), the argument that there will be 20,000-30,000 red-clad Nebraska fans in the 50,183-seat Folsom Field doesn’t hold any water. Still, since they will all be clad in red from head-to-toe, while Buff fans will be wearing a myriad of colors, it will seem like the proportion of Cornhusker fans in the stands is higher than it really is.

“This’ll be the highest revenue game we’ve had in our history. That should tell you something,” CU athletic director Rick George said this week (what it really tells me is that the payout to Mike MacIntyre is being paid, in significant part, but Nebraska fans).

“There is a lot of excitement,” George said. “We’ve done everything we can to get those tickets in the hands of CU fans.”

If only the Buff fans had taken up CU’s offer.

I watched the CU website on the day that single seat tickets went on sale. There were several hundred open seats behind my season tickets (I’m on the 50-yard line in Section 218, row 72, if you ever want to come by and say “hi”). All of the open tickets in the ten rows behind my seats were gone in a day.

Which means that there will be several hundred Nebraska fans sitting directly behind me Saturday afternoon.

Here’s hoping the Buffs can keep them quiet.

This week’s “T.I.P.S.” for CU v Nebraska … Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MT, Fox

T – Talent 

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez stat line … Game One, 2018 … 15-for-20 passing, 187 yards, one touchdown, one interception … 15 carries for 117 yards, two touchdowns … and lost, 33-28, to Colorado.

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez stat line … Game One, 2019 … 13-for-22 passing, 178 yards, no touchdowns, one interception … 13 carries for 6 yards, no touchdowns … and won, 35-21, over South Alabama.

Which Adrian Martinez will show up in Boulder against the Buffs?

Martinez, just a sophomore, is being looked upon by the Husker Nation as the quarterback who will lead the Cornhuskers back to national relevance, but he didn’t look the part last weekend. His interception was an unforced error. He was all alone in the Husker backfield, but still through a flat-footed balloon over the middle which was intercepted. His longest run of the game against the Jaguars – the 36.0-point underdog Jaguars – was for ten yards. Martinez was also sacked twice.

And it’s not as if a dominant rushing attack was the reason for the lightweight passing numbers. Nebraska ran for 98 yards on 44 carries against USA, a paltry 2.2 yards/carry. Of course, star running back Maurice Washington (you know, the running back who has been arraigned in California on felony charges of sending underage pornography on his phone), was suspended for all of one half of football, and will be a full-go for the CU game. (Welcome to the Scott Frost “Pornhuskers” … I don’t get credit for that one, or “Go Big Ped!”, but feel free to use them).

In fact, it took five turnovers by South Alabama, along with three non-offensive touchdowns (an interception return for a touchdown, a fumble return for a touchdown, and a punt return for a touchdown), to keep this game from being much closer.

That being said, the Buff defense was burned for 31 points and 505 total yards to a Colorado State offense which did not put the scare into too many Mountain West teams last fall. The Buffs were hard-pressed to maintain the perimeter against the Rams … which may mean that the Buffs will see a great deal more of Martinez the runner than Martinez the passer. At a press conference this week, Frost said of Martinez: “When he runs, I want to see an I-back in a QB uniform”. Look for Adrian Martinez to try and beat CU with his legs.

When it comes to the Nebraska offense v. the Colorado defense, it may be less immovable object v. the unstoppable force, and more movable object v. stoppable force.

It will also be an interesting matchup when the Buff offense takes on the Blackshirts of Nebraska. South Alabama was only able to produce 314 total yards against Nebraska, including only 83 yards rushing. The longest of USA’s three touchdown drives covered 58 yards (the other two covered 41 and 13 yards, respectively).

The real difference in the game were the five turnovers generated by the Cornhusker defense, including the aforementioned fumble and interception returns for scores.

CU’s defense produced four turnovers against Colorado State.

Nebraska’s defense produced five turnovers against South Alabama.

If either of those units can produce similar numbers in Folsom Field … well, there’s your ballgame.

I – Intangibles 

Colorado fans hate Nebraska; Nebraska fans hate Colorado.

And it’s not as if Mel Tucker & Co. haven’t been exposed to that reality over the past nine months (I don’t think I’ll ever forget coach Tucker’s comment during our interview this summer about how an alum, at an event in California, grabbed a package of Big Red chewing gum out of his hand).

“I feel the energy and the passion from our fans and our alums and from our players of how big this next game is,” Tucker said on Friday night, not long after the Buffaloes finished off Colorado State, 52-31, in his debut as CU head coach.

Tucker, however, is not trying to over-hype the Nebraska game. “You can’t get overwhelmed by the moment and the magnitude of a game because they’re all big in their own regard,” Tucker said. “We’ll stick with our process and make sure our guys come out. I expect to see a better football team next week than I saw here tonight.”

The fans are hyped up, but what about the players? Well, other than last year’s game, there is no history between these teams since the current players on the roster were in grade school.

But that hasn’t stopped Nebraska players from talking some trash.

“I had last year’s game circled on my schedule and I have this year’s game circled on my schedule,” Nebraska safety Eric Lee, who went to Valor Christian High School, said. “I’m just excited to go back out there and take CU down.”

Huskers defensive lineman Darrion Daniels told reporters, “My coach don’t like them, so I don’t like them. I felt like last year we were the better team. And then if we were the better team last year, I know we’re the better team this year. … I’m just ready to go and kick some (butt), to be honest with you.”

Added JoJo Domann, a Nebraska junior outside linebacker from Colorado Springs: “I took (a visit to CU during my recruitment) and I came here. Thank God I came here.”

But the Buffs aren’t biting.

Buffs left guard Kary Kutsch said he would prefer for the Huskers to do all the talking this week. “We’ll see what happens on Saturday,” he said. “We’re not here to listen to all of that stuff. We’re here to play football.”

“I’ve seen the stuff on social media and everything,” Nate Landman, the Buffs’ junior linebacker, said on Monday. “There’s a little bit of beef between us and I love that. I think that makes the game of football more fun and exciting, not only for us but for the fans, as well. To have them in our place, we don’t want to lose at home and we don’t like losing at home. We want to protect our turf. I think it’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be hard and physical. I think the rivalry and the whole intensity of it is going to come together and make a great game.”

Steven Montez had the best line: “They’re talking enough for both of us”.

The Buffs taking the high road came from an edict from their head coach. “I don’t want our guys talking (trash),” Mel Tucker said. “This is not a time to talk. It’s about preparation. There’s already a date for the game; we’re going to play. What are we doing to do up until the game to get ready? That’s what I expect from our guys, period.”

Both sides will be amped up for the game, but you have to like the way the approach the Buffs taking …

P – Preparation/Schedule

The schedule was supposed to work in Nebraska’s favor.

While Colorado was getting the kitchen sink thrown at it by a desperate CSU coaching staff, Nebraska opened the season as a 36-point favorite over South Alabama.

The Buffs were supposed to be all-in on their dog fight against the Rams, while the Cornhuskers were supposed to be coasting against the Jaguars, keeping starters rested, and keeping the playbook mostly a secret.

Now, it can be argued that Nebraska was keeping their play calling last weekend vanilla in order to keep some of its offense under wraps for the Colorado game. Perhaps, but this was a 14-7 game at halftime, and a 28-21 game at the end of the third quarter. At some point, the Nebraska coaches had to take winning the game as a priority over secrecy, so it’s hard to argue that the Cornhuskers were willing to keep it close just to have surprise plays for the Buffs.

Meanwhile, Colorado State tried any number of what Mel Tucker describes as “un-scouted looks” in their attempt at an upset. Nebraska will see on film what worked against Colorado …but so too will the Buff coaches. The CU coaches will have the opportunity to work with their players to try and eliminate some of the issues CSU exposed.

And the Buffs will be better prepared as a result.

… And … not for nothing. The Buffs played on Friday night, while Nebraska played on Saturday. CU players were given Saturday and Sunday off, their first consecutive days off since the start of Fall Camp. Nebraska, meanwhile, not only had to play on Saturday, but will have to travel on Friday.

Preparation advantage: Colorado …

S – Statistics

While it’s only one week into the season, there are still some stats worth noting …

— Nebraska has lost seven straight road games. The last road victory for the Cornhuskers was in October, 2017, in a come-from-behind 25-24 win over Purdue … some 23 months ago;

— The Buffs were plus-four in turnovers against the Rams. In the last 12 seasons, the only other time that CU was plus-four in turnovers was in 2016, when the Buffs had three interceptions and a fumble recovery in a 10-5 win over Stanford;

— Safety Mikial Onu had two interceptions in his CU debut. The last time a Buff had two interceptions in a game was also in the magical 2016 season, when Tedric Thompson had two interceptions against Utah;

— Nebraska fans love to lord over Buff fans their all-time lead in the series (49-19-2), but since the 62-36 game in 2001, the Cornhuskers have won six games; the Buffs have won five;

— Counting the win over CSU last weekend, the Buffs have won 12 straight non-conference games in the state (seven in Boulder, five in Denver);

— Nebraska had three non-offensive touchdowns in its opener against South Alabama, the first time the Cornhuskers have posted three non-offensive touchdowns in a game since 2005.

Prediction … I have really struggled with this one.

It’s been a long nine months. There has been plenty of excitement about the program within the Buff Nation, but not so much in the rest of the college football world.

Meanwhile, Nebraska, which finished with a 4-8 record last season, has been given the benefit of any number of doubts. Even though the Cornhuskers did not improve from the 4-8 record in 2017, miracle-worker Scott Frost, who took UCF from 6-7 his first season to 13-0 his second season, seemed primed to take his Cornhuskers on a similar quick rise back to double-digit victories.

Buff fans could argue about the bias national media has for teams with better historical records, but the off-season reality was that the Cornhuskers finished the 2018 with a 4-2 run (which included close losses on the road to Ohio State [36-31] and Iowa [31-28]), while the Buffs finished the 2018 season … well, you know.

I had talked myself into the Buffs defeating the Cornhuskers, but then Friday night I watched as the CU defense was gashed for 505 yards and 31 points by a mediocre Mountain West team. It seemed that the Buff Nation was destined to listen to “Go Big Red” for what would seem to be an eternity this weekend.

But then I watched Nebraska struggle against South Alabama, and optimism was renewed. The Cornhuskers, despite all of their hype, could not put away a Jaguar team which finished 3-9 last season (with wins over Texas State, Alabama State, and Coastal Carolina), a Jaguar team which was projected to finish last again in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference.

Both coaches have indicated that they expect their teams to take significant strides in Week Two.

Mel Tucker, in his press conferences, exudes a quiet confidence. Win or lose, you have to have a great deal of confidence about the future of the CU program.

Can the CU defense rise up and stop the Cornhusker offense?

Head says “no”; heart says “yes”.

What the Hell … in Tuck We Trust.

Colorado 37, No. 25 Nebraska 31

Previous predictions … 

Colorado 38, Colorado State 20 … Actual: Colorado 52, Colorado State 31

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19 Replies to “CU v. Nebraska – “T.I.P.S.” for Cornhuskers v. “ex-rival””

  1. I decided to submit myself to torcher today and listened to Nebraska sports radio. I would listen to colorado sports radio but all the talk is on the broncos as it is 24/7 which annoys me. Anyway, they are confident that Nebraska is going to be the majority in the crowd. If that is the case I am seriously going to be pissed. I know there are going to be a ton of Nebraska fans there but if there are 25,000 that is ridiculous. CU fans we have to have pride here and not allow that to happen.

    1. So I wouldn’t like the all red crap either

      Seating…………………. 43,000
      season ticket holder 21,000
      Student tickets 12,000
      left 10,000

      Sure some will sell their tickets to the dead reds But as some one said……..was that you Stu? ……cause they are dressed in red head to toe it makes it look like their are a lot more of them.

      The radio hosts all talk big……………they talked big before last game too.

      I REMEMBER HOW THE TV WENT SILENT AS 90,000 FADED INTO THE SEATS…….AND I DON’T REMEMBER NO FRIGGING POLITE BASEBALL CRAP EITHER)

      Dang nab it, I don’t want the Buffs to blow em out…………….I want a 1 or 2 point victory………

      The pain………………The pain……………

  2. So I have watched the game 3 times now. Ya, I am that sort of guy. The second third time I watched it I tried to break it down given the limited capabilities of the broadcast film. We have issues on D. The adjustments barely slowed down a CSU team. They would not slow down a Nebraska team. Even without a running quarterback they were often a man for man at the point of attack and CU was not shedding blockers at all on the edges. The corner backs were not pressing enough to collapse the running lanes (instead they were catching). The safeties lined up 14 yards deep and just took too much time getting to the play (This was one of the adjustments in the second half that helped but also exposed them to that deep ball that they missed on). The outside linebacker was struggling to read the jet sweep (his eye discipline is off I think). When they run zone defense versus an RPO the outside and middle linebackers are not dropping wide enough, fast enough to get to the outside zone (They altered to man in the second half and that helped). Landman looked a full step slower than he did last year. I think he is still learning the defense and instead of being able to just play fast he is thinking for a beat. I expect this to dramatically improve as the season goes on. maybe we see the improvement this week.

    On the good side, the DB’s are all ball hawks. We didn’t have a DB on the team last year that could have made the plays Onu made last year. Slim looks really good. The balls he gave up were great throws and he minimized the damage. Maddox strip of the ball was awesome (and it was a strip, I was able to find a frame where the ball is clearly out and the running back’s butt is not on the turf yet.) Husker offense looked pretty bad in their game and I think Bobo is a much better play caller than people give him credit for. But we will make their offense look good. Tucker is a defensive mind and he went in with a very vanilla look. I suspect we will have a plan in place to mitigate the wide side attacks but just mitigate them. The corn scores, I would say 31 points.

    That means that the O has to score 32 or more. I really liked the play calls. I think they had a really good mix. The deep ball was not always a straight fade (which it was last year), the tight ends were used effectively. Fontenot has a real feel for the gaps in a defense. He doesn’t have it right away. he has to be in the game for a bit. But once he figures it out man, he finds seams in a D. Really impressive. If he can do the same against Nebraska he is going to have an explosive year. Montez is still the Montez from last year with one exception. When he runs with the ball he now runs with a purpose. He used to just tip toe. I think the coaches in previous years had him so afraid he ran poorly. He now runs like a 230 pound dude lumbering along. defenses are going to have to account for that. He is going to continue throwing off his back foot when he is in the pocket. To be honest we need to role him out. He is so comfortable when he is in space and he actually has the arm talent to throw across the field if the defense doesn’t respect it. I also love how he is distributing the ball. Sure Viska gets it in critical situations. That is how it should be but I love the deep ball to Brown, the seam pass (Stanley?), the Passes to the tight ends (especially to Russell when the play broke down. And that was a wicked catch by KD and he held onto the ball when he got de-cleated.

    Mike Leach won a whole bunch of games in his career outscoring his opponents. I don’t think it wins championships but you can win a whole ton of games.

    Buffs outscore the Huskers again.

    31-34 – Won by our better kicker.

    1. Agree on the defense on film. I was just skimming through the game film on YouTube and it just looked like the defense was completely out of position the entire time, on every single play. The second half was better, but it seemed like it was also luckier (the turnovers).

      Still, lots of hesitation and thinking rather than playing. Might be an ugly learning curve this year unless the coaches say “fuck it, we’ll play more of MacIntyre’s system for a while”.

  3. This will be my son’s first intro to the buffs (that he might remember, he’s turning 4 during bowl season). So the buffs better win!

    I’m also steeling myself to show how to lose well, a skill he could use. (Im hedging my bets here with a little silver lining)

    Score prediction (wish)… 37-34 CU

  4. Our D will give up yards…we have a chance if we can hold ’em (and the rest of the teams) to FGs vs. TDs. We need to be the sterotype of bend/don’t break and then our O can keep us in games. I don’t see us containing Martinez unfortunately…Landman looked nothing like ‘sideline/sideline’ and instead looked like a classic two down MLB in the NFL.

  5. Who the hell knows how this will come out…..We have the same as a New Team…….New Everything. I just want to see Black and Gold everywhere, supporting this team like the Days of Old…… We need to show the Fuskers that we own Home Field.

    Unis the same as last week ?…………..Love It…… The Standard for home contests in games of yore.

    GO BUFFS

  6. Until our boys on defense can prove to me that they can control the outside I can’t see us winning this game. CU 28 nub 45

  7. Before this season started I had 4 games as quite likely losses Utah, Washington, Oregon, Stanford and 3 others in the Hopeful but Doubtful Win Column ~ Washington State, usc, Arizona State with 2 in the probable win column Ucla, Arizona and 3 in the HAVE to WIN PERIOD Ledger AFA, CSU and nebraska. Being well versed in Mathematics (MS) that gave me a 7-5 BOWL SEASON (the heart is always the deciding factor in sports calculations) Buffs 38 – neb’s 34 THIS Year marks the 65th Anniversary for my first Buff’s Game. My first 10 years it was ALL NAVY and Notre Dame.

  8. Rewatching the game, I see alot of vanilla looks by CU on D and a few players who weren’t quite ready for game speed. Both will be different this week. Expect a solid D performance by the Buffs front 7.

    1. Plus, the defense looked much better in the second half after adjustments were made.

      I take the under on this game. Cu defense will be better than expected and cu offense will be worse than expected. Cu wins a close one 24-21

  9. Row 72 Stuart? You shove a husker granny down the stairs from there and she won’t stop rolling until getting to the near side hash marks!

    Don’t let us down and from your article, there will be plenty of huskers granny targets.

    DON’T FAIL US STUART!

    1. I’ve had my same seats for over 20 years. I could move elsewhere if I wanted (plenty of “priority points”), but I like my view, both of the Flatirons and Longs Peak, but of the field (if we look straight across, we are directly across from where the TV commentators sit in the press box).
      I’d love to have a couple hundred husker grannys sitting behind me … at least they wouldn’t be (as) drunk and obnoxious.

  10. I don’t buy the Husker Hype. But I don’t feel comfortable with Buff D either. Agree with heart/head conflict but can’t pick against the Buffs in this one. CU 33 Neb 31.

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