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Game of the Day – September 8th

NoteTo help us get through our CU football withdrawal, I’ll be posting a “Game of the Day” everyday through to Thanksgiving weekend, with links to some of the best CU games over the past 40 years.

Let’s get started with a good one … 

September 8, 2018 – Lincoln           Colorado 33, Nebraska 28

Steven Montez hit Laviska Shenault for a 40-yard touchdown with 1:06 to play, giving Colorado a 33-28 come-from-behind win over Nebraska in Lincoln. Montez went 33-for-50 passing, going for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Shenault collected ten of those passes for 177 yards and a touchdown … also scoring on a three-yard run in the first quarter.

The game went back and forth all afternoon. The Buffs raced out to an early 14-0 lead, only to watch the Cornhuskers dominate play for the remainder of the first half. Nebraska led 21-17 at the break, having posted 243 yards rushing to CU’s nine. The Buffs steadied themselves in the second half, overcoming two missed field goals before securing the winning points in the final minute of play.

Nebraska had 565 yards of total offense against the Colorado defense, with freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez completing 15-of-20 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown (one interception), while also leading the Cornhuskers in rushing (15 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns). For the Buffs, other than the Montez-to-Shenault combo, there was little offensive production (395 total yards of total offense). Kyle Evans and Travon McMillian each had 25 yards rushing, while no Buff other than Shenault was over 50 yards receiving (though Jay MacIntyre had eight catches for 45 yards and two touchdowns.

“They closed the middle of the field,” Montez said of the game-winning touchdown play. “I knew they were pressed on Laviska and I knew he was going to go beat his man. All I had to do was look the safety off for a split second. I looked him off for the first step of my drop and that got him out of the way just long enough.  I gave him a ball with air and Laviska made a helluva play.”

Read full game story here

“WE HAVE TO BEAT THEM. IT’S THE ONLY THING THEY UNDERSTAND”

The Colorado/Nebraska rivalry means something different to every Buff coach, player, and fan.

For the players, most of whom were in elementary school the last time the Buffs and Cornhuskers played, having Nebraska on the schedule didn’t carry with it a great deal of extra meaning.

“A lot of the guys on the team know about the history. They have been playing all of the highlights and the clips around the Champions Center this whole week now”, said quarterback Steven Montez before the game. “To us, we just treat it like another game. They are just another team wearing a different color than us. We have to go in and do what we do best, play our game, and hopefully it will work out for us in the end.”

Added running back Travon McMillian, himself just a Buff for one game before the showdown in Lincoln, “We don’t know much about it because it has been so long since Colorado and Nebraska have played, but we are taking this game really seriously. We are preparing as hard as we can in practice so when we go out there we can execute to the best of our ability.”

Even head coach Mike MacIntyre, who acknowledged hearing about Nebraska from Buff fans the entire off-season, wasn’t caught up in the hype. “(Film clips of CU/Nebraska) were just on when I got here early Sunday morning,” said MacIntyre at his Tuesday press conference. “I don’t know who put it on, but all the televisions were on. The one in my conference room was on so I watched a few minutes of it, but then I turned it off because I need to go watch film”.

For older Buff fans, though, the game has much deeper meaning, and much of that is thanks to the efforts of former CU head coach Bill McCartney (1982-94).

McCartney was on the CU campus this past week. He had no problem getting excited about Nebraska week.

“It is game week. I would rather be dead than red,” said McCartney. “Seriously, here is what you have to understand about Nebraska. Here we have CU, CSU, Air Force, and the Broncos. You know what they’ve got in Nebraska? Nothing. Just that team that’s coming. There is nothing else there for them to do. When they get up every day, that is the only option they have is to get behind that big red thing. We have to beat them. That’s the only thing they understand. They understand that. If you beat them, they’ll salute. If you don’t you will hear about it. We don’t want to hear about it, especially from their media. They don’t stop. You know what the media can be like right? You know how media gets a little out of control here in Denver, and wears out their welcome? It gets worse there. Sorry.”

While Nebraska fans are loath to call Colorado a rival, there is definitely some dislike for the Buffs (if you have the stomach for it, check out this article from SB Nation, “Colorado Suffers from Mediocre-Program Syndrome“, posted this past week).

My history with the Colorado/Nebraska rivalry goes back to my freshman year, 1980, but my hatred for Nebraska can be traced to Husker Week, 1982, Bill McCartney’s first season in Boulder.

My first two seasons in Boulder, the Buffs had lost to Nebraska 45-7 and 59-0, and no one expected a different result in 1982.

No one except for Bill McCartney, that is.

The story of my first encounter with Coach Mac I can be found here (“No. 7 Nebraska – In Search of a Rival – Meeting Coach Bill McCartney“).

Suffice it to say, I have had a strong dislike for all things Cornhusker for decades.

For every warm memory, however, there has been any number of mind-numbing defeats (the five losses between 1996 and 2000, by a combined 15 points, were especially tough to take).

The Buffs, and the Buff Nation – which has suffered mightily for the past decade – has been in desperate need of a morale boost. The Nebraska game provided just such an opportunity.

The Buffs and Cornhuskers haven’t played since 2010. Neither team has won a conference title in their new conferences. Both teams are looking to re-establish their identities as a national program.

The game had a 1:30 p.m., kickoff (MT), and was nationally televised on ABC.

For a team which has had most of its games in recent years relegated to the (unavailable or unwatched) Pac-12 Networks, it was a golden opportunity to make a statement.

And the Buffs rose to the challenge.

Was it pretty? No. You can’t witness an offensive line which surrenders seven sacks and not cringe. You can’t watch an offense go three-and-out four consecutive possessions in the second quarter and not wonder if the 2017 team (and the 2015 team, and the 2014 team …) was back.

Instead, the 2018 Buff team showed heart, showed grit, showed resolve.

Continue reading essay here

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3 Replies to “CU Game of the Day – Sept. 8th”

  1. The only thing a corn cob is good for is _ _ _ _ _ _ _. And that’s the only thing…. when nothing else is available. SHUCKS.

    I’ll leave it at that.

    GO BUFFS

  2. “WE HAVE TO BEAT THEM. IT’S THE ONLY THING THEY UNDERSTAND”
    I don think most of them even understand that.