CU v. Nebraska: “T.I.P.S.” for Coach Prime’s Home Debut

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally (and from more than one voice), “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Nebraska, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can find the podcast here.


Welcome to the CU/Nebraska rivalry game, national media!

Yes, Fox had long planned to bring its Big Noon Saturday crew to Boulder for the renewal of the rivalry between Colorado and Nebraska. As a whole, however, the national media didn’t give much thought to the Big Red coming to Folsom Field … until CU upset No. 17 TCU.

The Week Two college football lineup has many more compelling matchups than did Week One … Texas at Alabama … Texas A&M at Miami … Iowa at Iowa State … Utah at Baylor … Wisconsin at Washington State …  Notre Dame at NC State … all seen until this week as more interesting games than Colorado v. Nebraska, two teams which went a combined 5-19 in 2022.

Then Week One games were played. The back-and-forth scoring barrage between CU and TCU not only made for good television, it was the only interesting game in a day of blowouts – a Saturday in which every ranked team not from Ft. Worth won their games (and usually in boring mismatches).

Coach Prime was an interesting off-season distraction to be sure, but many national pundits would have been just as happy to have TCU and Sonny Dykes put Coach Prime and his band of castoffs in their place … and move on to some real football stories.

Instead, Coach Prime and his Buffs stole the show, and have made CU/Nebraska must-see TV this weekend.

The national media is still slow on the uptake. On Monday, Fox Sports radio commentators were marveling that tickets for the CU/Nebraska game were going for $300 apiece, and speculating as to whether the betting line – with CU a 2.5-point favorite – would be moving. Never mind the fact that tickets were going for $400 and more in April, and that a week ago Nebraska was an 8.5-point favorite.


We’ll move past the fact that national pundits are late to the party, and celebrate the fact that they made it at all.

Will Coach Prime and the Buffs build on their new found national notoriety? Or will the Cornhuskers spoil the fun?

Let’s find out …

This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU v. Nebraska – Saturday, 10:00 a.m., MT, Fox – Big Noon Saturday No. 2

T – Talent

Good v. Good.

Bad v. Bad.

No, I’m not talking about Colorado and Nebraska in big picture terms … that would be Good v. Evil.

Rather, it’s the matchups which will take place on the field this Saturday. The Colorado offense was good against TCU, going for 45 points. Shedeur Sanders set a new passing record with 510 yards through the air, with the 135 yards receiving by Dylan Edwards (on only five catches) set a new standard for receiving yards by a running back in a game. Four Buffs had over 100 yards receiving – another school record.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska defense was good, with the Cornhuskers giving up only 3 points in the first 57 minutes of Nebraska’s 13-10 loss to Minnesota.

On the other side of the ball, the Colorado defense was bad, giving up over 500 yards of total offense and 42 points to a TCU offense with three returning starters. But for two red zone interceptions and a missed field goal, TCU would have scored in the 50s, and we might be having a very different discussion about the Buffs this week

Meanwhile, the Nebraska offense was bad. Against Minnesota, a team with good defense, the Cornhuskers managed only 295 yards and 10 points, turning the ball over four times.

How will good v. good and bad v. bad play out this Saturday?

Let’s start with the Nebraska offense. Junior Jeff Sims is the quarterback, who transferred in from Georgia Tech, where he had mixed results as a three year starter (the Yellow Jackets went 11-23 over that span). Sims has good size (6’4″, 220-pounds) and good speed, and is a dual-threat quarterback. Against Minnesota, Sims almost won the game with his legs (19 carries for 91 yards), but lost the game with his arm (11-for-19 passing for 114 yards and a touchdown … and three interceptions).

Sims doesn’t have much in the way of wideout options. Marcus Washington had over 30 catches for almost 500 yards last season, but was held to three receptions for 31 yards by Minnesota. Alex Bullock did have Nebraska’s only touchdown against the Golden Gophers, but even that 34-yarder was on a trick play (Bullock had only two other catches, for a total of 22 yards).

If Nebraska is going to beat Colorado, it will be with a strong rushing attack. Sims will be the primary threat, but the Cornhuskers have two running backs who could be a factor in the game. Anthony Grant went for 915 yards last season, but his reputation as a fumbler (indeed, he lost the ball at midfield with just over a minute to go against Minnesota, setting up the Golden Gophers’ game-winning field goal as time expired) has reduced his carries. This may leave it to sophomore Gabe Ervin (seven carries for 55 yards v. Minnesota) as Nebraska’s go-to back this weekend.

On defense, the picture is brighter for the Cornhuskers. Seven starters return from a mediocre defense, but the unit held Minnesota to only 251 total yards of offense in the opener (a Minnesota offense which was up 35-0 at halftime against CU, on its way to a 49-7 laugher). Minnesota had only 55 yards rushing last Thursday night (the same total rushing yards CU had against TCU), with Nebraska forcing Minnesota to the air 44 times to come up with only 196 passing yards. All four starters in the defensive backfield return, including two of the Big Ten’s better cornerbacks in Quinton Newsome and Malcolm Hartzog.

The game plan for Nebraska should be to try and run the clock on offense, and prevent big plays on defense. The Cornhuskers will try and shorten the game, and try and frustrate the CU offense into settling for long drives (and potential mistakes).

Oh, and if it comes down to special teams – CU was “horrendous” (Coach Prime’s word) on special teams – the longest play of the night for Nebraska against Minnesota was a 63-yard kickoff return by Rahmir Johnson.


I – Intangibles

Rivalry? What Rivalry? … Colorado fans loathe Nebraska. Nebraska fans dismiss Colorado. The rivalry is real, and it is intense.

And there are very few coaches or players in either locker room who have been a part of it.

The 2018 game in Lincoln (Laviska Shenault!) and the 2019 overtime game in Boulder may be fresh in our memories, but there are no players or coaches on either side of the field who were a part of those games, much less the rivalry games from the Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12.

That being said, I’m confident that Coach Prime and Coach Rhule have been well schooled on the importance of this game. Coach Prime has banned the color red from the Champions Center, and I’m sure the Nebraska fans have been quite vocal in their desire to have the Cornhuskers put the Buffs in their place.

The players? They may not have the hatred for the opposition burned into them as deeply as it is within the fan bases … but they should get an earful from their friends and classmates this week.

Meanwhile … Coach Rhule may have created his own rivalry … Remember Coach Rhule’s comments about the Transfer Portal this spring? When Coach Prime said “I ain’t hard to find”, and openly invited transfers, Matt Rhule was one of the coaches who was critical of Coach Sanders’ methodology.

“I hear other schools (say) they can’t wait for today, the transfer portal, they can’t wait to go out”, Coach Rhule said last April. “I can’t wait to coach my guys, let me tell you that. … I’m not thinking about anybody else but this team out here.”

As coach Prime is fond of saying, he “keep receipts”. Anyone have any doubts that Coach Prime remembers Rhule’s comments?

How will CU deal with success? … An odd question, to be sure, as Colorado hasn’t had to deal with this issue in forever. Yes, it was great to get the victory. Yes, all of the national attention (positive for a change) is refreshing. Yes, it will be great to have the national media descend upon CU and Folsom Field for the first time in forever. But … will the players not named Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter be able to handle the attention? The added pressure? Will the Buffs start reading their press clippings, and forget that they are still five wins away from even being bowl eligible?

We’ll find out soon enough.

… One score games … Against Minnesota, as many Cornhusker fans lamented on social media, the ending was just “Nebraska being Nebraska”.

Since the start of the 2021 season, Nebraska has a 2-14 record in one-score games. The trend goes back even further (including one score losses to CU in 2018 and 2019), but the one-score loss record is one of the reasons Scott Frost is no longer the head coach.

Matt Rhule has stated he is taking nothing from the many one-score losses before he coached Nebraska. Instead, his team is simply 0-1 in such contests under his leadership — and it’s up to him to turn that around.

“I’m not even thinking about anything that ever happened before I got here; that has nothing to do with me,” Rhule said after Nebraska’s 13-10 loss to Minnesota. “I don’t want our players to think about that. I’m thinking about what’s next.”

While Rhule wasn’t around for all of those one-score losses, many of his players were. And, if the game is close late, like it was against Minnesota (with Nebraska holding a 10-3 lead with three minutes to play, only to lose 13-10), it could be a big advantage for Colorado …


P – Preparation/Schedule

Extra two days … Often times, getting an extra two days preparation time can be an advantage. Nebraska played its opener on Thursday night, while Colorado played on Saturday. Both teams were on the road.

Advantage, Nebraska?

Not as much as you would normally expect. Nebraska played at night in Minneapolis, with the game ending at 10:32 p.m., CT. The Cornhuskers would have made it back to Lincoln in the early morning hours on Friday, with the players getting the day off.

Colorado, meanwhile, played a morning game in Ft. Worth. The game ended at 2:45 p.m., CT, giving the Buffs plenty of time to make it back to Boulder in time for dinner, a full night’s sleep, and a fresh start on Sunday.

Yes, Nebraska coaches and players had the extra day of rest, getting to watch CU play TCU from the comfort of their own homes, but, with Nebraska having to travel this week to Boulder, the extra advantage of the Thursday night game is not as great as it normally might be.

Speaking of game times … The Nebraska/Minnesota game was a night game. Nebraska’s home opener (after two straight road games to open the season, mind you) against Northern Illinois will also be a night game.

Meanwhile, CU has been practicing in the morning since the start of Fall Camp (first meetings were at 7:00 a.m. for every practice). The Big Noon kickoff was at 10:00 a.m., MT. The Big Noon kickoff for CU/Nebraska will be at 10:00 a.m., MT.

Advantage: Colorado.

Game film on CU … The one true advantage Nebraska has in preparation for Colorado that TCU did not have is actual game film. While CU also has game film on Nebraska and Matt Rhule’s debut as head coach, the Coach Prime experiment was a complete unknown for TCU and its coaches.

Nebraska will, at least, have some idea as to how CU will be running its offense. With no run/pass options (RPOs) or designated quarterback runs against TCU, Colorado’s coaching staff is making it clear that they are going to protect Shedeur Sanders from unnecessary hits. Added pressure on the quarterback will almost certainly be a part of the game plan for the Cornhusker defense.

That being said, there were a number of players – offensive lineman Landon Beebe, cornerback Cormani McClain, and running backs Kavosiey Smoke and Alton McCaskill among them – who didn’t play for the Buffs against TCU. With no major injuries reported to the Buff lineup, the roster could even be stronger against Nebraska than it was against TCU.

A pleasant thought …


S – Statistics 

This section last year was labeled the “car accident section” – You know you should look away, but you just can’t. After the first game of the 2023 season, the Buffs have gotten at least one half of the stats ledger improved. The defense? Still some work to do …

Stats to make you smile … 

  • For CU on offense … The Buffs are 11th in the nation in total offense (565 yards/game) … 2nd in the nation in passing offense (510 yards/game) … and tied for 22nd in scoring offense (45 points/game)
  • For CU on defense …The Buffs are 11th in the nation in interceptions (with 2) … and … that’s about it for the Buff defense
  • For Nebraska on offense … The Cornhuskers are tied for 123rd in the nation in turnovers lost (with 4) … 120th in the nation in passing offense (114 yards/game) … and 104th in total offense (295 yards/game) …
  • For Nebraska on defense … The Cornhuskers are tied for 104th in fourth down conversions allowed (2-for-2) … tied for 104th in third down conversions allowed (8-for-17)

Stats to make you cringe … 

  • For CU on offense … The Buffs are tied for 119th in the nation of rushing offense (55 yards/game) … and tied for 116th in the nation in sacks allowed (with 4)
  • For CU on defense … The Buffs are 123rd in the nation in total defense (541 yards/game) … tied for 114th in the nation in scoring defense (42 points/game) … and 125th in the nation in rushing defense (262 yards/game)
  • For Nebraska on defense … The Cornhuskers are tied for 32nd in scoring defense (13 points/game) … tied for 31st in total defense (251 yards/game) … and tied for 18th in the nation in rushing defense (55 yards/game)

Stat to watch (i.e, the stat which will play a role in deciding the game)Rushing Yards … And I’m going to make it more specific than that. My question of the game: Can CU outrush Nebraska quarterback James Sims? Not Dylan Edwards v. James Sims – the entire CU rushing attack v. Nebraska’s quarterback. If CU has any rushing success at all, it will be a good game for the Buffs (especially when you are subtracting out losses in yardage due to sacks). Meanwhile, if Jeff Sims has 100-150 yards rushing, that means that the Nebraska is keeping the ball and moving it down the field (and CU is not sacking the quarterback). Force Sims to throw: CU wins. Allow Sims to keep drives alive with scrambles and designed runs … it becomes a more nervous afternoon for the Buff Nation.

Prediction … 

Nebraska is 0-1, losing 13-10 to Minnesota. The Cornhuskers, though, had the ball near midfield with just over a minute to play in a 10-10 game … before James Sims threw an interception.

Colorado is 1-0, winning 45-42 at TCU. The Horned Frogs, though, had the ball near midfield with just over a minute to play … but turned the ball over on downs.

The Cornhuskers were just over a minute away from potentially winning their game; the Buffs were just over a minute away from potentially losing their game.

But the games ended the way they did … and the Buffs are the team with all of the momentum heading into Saturday’s game.

Vegas liked what they saw out of the new and improved Buffs, as the line for the game moved from Nebraska being an 8.5-point favorite to being a 2.5-point underdog.

I like the Buffs to win this game.

The Buff players received much needed affirmation for all of their hard work. They now know that they can be successful in Coach Prime’s systems – though the defense and special team units are probably getting extra reps this week. They get to play their first game before their home fans, and will be playing with confidence.

Nebraska players, meanwhile, are on the road for the second week in a row, and have to be disheartened. And don’t underestimate the blow the Minnesota loss may have taken on the Cornhuskers. Yes, the Buffs are the Cornhuskers’ hated historic rivals, but Minnesota is one of Nebraska’s current rivals … and the Cornhuskers have now lost to the Golden Gophers five straight times.

Five straight times!

Nebraska, which likes to think of itself as a blue blood, is at the bottom of the Big Ten West standings, already looking up at Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin (all 1-0 in the division standings). Before the calendar even hit Labor Day, the Cornhuskers and their fans had to be wondering if 2023 is destined to be their 24th straight season without a conference championship.

Nebraska’s chances at success depends on dominance in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and keeping CU’s potent offense from making big plays.

I’m guessing it may be a frustrating game for Buff fans early, with CU’s offense not seeing the early success the Buffs had against TCU. But I also see that it will be very difficult for the strong Nebraska defense to keep Shedeur and Co. in check the entire game.

On the other side of the ball, I can see the Nebraska offense having more success than it did against Minnesota. The Buff defensive front seven remains CU’s weakest link, and is susceptible to being pushed around by a large offensive line.

But with quarterback Jeff Sims being more liability than asset, the Buffs, if they can keep Sims from beating them with his legs … I don’t see Sims beating CU with his arm.

Nebraska will score more than last week; Colorado will score less than last week.

But Nebraska’s ineffective offense won’t be able to score enough to win.

Prediction … No. 22 Colorado 34, Nebraska 21

2023 Predictions: Straight up: 0-1; Against the Spread: 1-0

  • Prediction: No. 17 TCU 33, Colorado 21 … Actual: Colorado 45, No. 17 TCU 42

  • 2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 10-2; Against the Spread: 9-3) …
  • 2021 Predictions … (Straight up: 9-3; Against the Spread: 7-5) … 



12 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Nebraska”

  1. Stuart,

    I requested at the last home game against Nebraska that you live up to our degenerate reputation and push a granny (or multiple grannies) down the stairs. We have a reputation to uphold. You did not fulfill that request while even acknowledging that there was ample opportunity to do so. Can we count on you this time to ensure that we Buff fans are as terrible as our reputation is with the Bugeaters by rolling a granny down the stairs? I sit in the middle of the row so am quite limited in my ability to inflict anything worse than single syllable insults.

    I look forward to your commitment!


  2. TCU averaged more than 40 points a game last year before the National Championship game. They put up more than 50 four times, including against Michigan and Oklahoma. They are a much better team than everyone is giving them credit for right now.
    I don’t buy that CU has a bad defense. We have an opportunistic defense that allowed us to prevent a couple touchdowns. We also had a couple of long passes that were dropped that could have been TDs.
    All that matters is that CU was on top when the game ended. Nothing from that game will have a major bearing on the game against the Knuckleheads. Different teams, different styles and strengths and weaknesses. And, as always, rivalry games often go in unexpected ways.
    I’m hoping Coach Prime and his staff are ready.
    My feeling is that CU SHOULD win, but the ball bounces funny sometimes. I’m taking nothing for granted. We need to be ready for 4 quarters and OT if necessary.
    Go BUFFS!

  3. One correction. Cu ran lots of RPO, wherein the R is a RB hand-off. Cu did not run maybe zone reads wherein the QBs second option was a run instead of a pass.

    All that said I agree that protecting Shadeur was clearly the game plan.

    Nebraska is still Nebraska. That loss Shaukat Minnesota took skill and dedication to give the game away like that.

    CU went out and took the game.

    Buffs win handily. 34-14


  4. No, I’m not talking about Colorado and Nebraska in big picture terms … that would be Good v. Evil. Great line Stuart!

    Defense is a bit overrated in matchups between higher powered teams. The 2 playoff games last year had 83 and 96 points scored. You need timely defense. Buffs had 3 timely plays vs TCU. Woods and Travis interceptions and the stop on 4th down to seal the game. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of room for the Buffs D to improve, but the D played just well enough and a little better than TCU’s D for us to get the win. Special teams better improve a lot.

    BUFFS 41 ‘holers 20

  5. The bugeaters are tired of losing games by one score, so the Buffs just need to win by 10 or more to keep them happy? Hahah.

    First off, I give the corn credit for being one of the few teams that had a Power5 game their first week, no matter how it happened, their stats are a better snap shot of their team than a school that played a FCS team.

    That being said, Minnesota had no rushing game (just like the Buffs) but they lost key components of their rushing game and had to switch to more of a passing game this season and they just weren’t that good at it for a B1G school. I think they helped the bugeaters with the interceptions in that way. Sheduer should be able to get the ball out faster and more accurately than Minnesota did, and the Buffs have speedsters and talented WRs in their top four, I don’t think the shuckters can cover all of them every play.

    Like I said before, a short pass to your RB or a WR behind the line of scrimmage, is kind of like a running play, just with a head start in direction. There are different ways the Buffs can make yards if they struggle with rushing it up the middle and could still get 500 yards of total offense.

    I’m hoping that a few guys that weren’t in the first game play and play well, and the defense can slow the rushing attack enough that they can get stops. I’m thinking that the Buffs pass coverage is better than Minnesota’s and the Buffs CBs and Safeties can cover the receivers while the LBs concentrates on the run, with one guy always hawking on their QB.

    If the Buffs can cover, one on one or zone using only the back four or five then hopefully one their LBs can really hawk their QB and get the stops.

    Buffs 41- bugeaters 23.

    Question is: Is neb’s defense as good or better than TCU’s? Can the Buffs stop the run because their cover guys can cover and Sims sucks throwing so more guys can focus on the run? If so, than the corn will be boiled, buttered and eaten by the Buffs.

  6. Sorry to quibble. Based on what I saw, granted I’m pretty limited fashion, of the Minnesota game, Nebraska’s defense was not good. The Minnesota offense was just really bad.

    Only one game, and a first game at that, but Buffs gonna carve em up.

    Go Buffs

    1. If you’re right… And I’m hoping you are, then my prediction in that case would be:

      Buffs 56 – bugeaters 16.

      🙂 🙂 🙂

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