A Look at the Top CU Buffs Moments in Football Rivalry Against Nebraska
It began on Nov. 17, 1898, with Nebraska traveling to Boulder to claim a 23-10 win. It ended, at least temporarily, with a 45-17 CU loss in Nebraska on Nov. 26, 2010 — a game that marked the end of longtime assistant Brian Cabral’s brief stint as interim head coach on the heels of Dan Hawkins’ firing weeks earlier.
After an eight-year hiatus, Colorado and Nebraska will collide on the gridiron for the 70th time on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The triumphant moments, and even a few of the more bittersweet ones, against Nebraska are among the most treasured memories of any CU football fan. Here is a look at 10 of the most prominent ones.
1. Nov. 3, 1990: Colorado 27, Nebraska 12
The Buffs hadn’t won in Lincoln in 23 years. That streak looked destined to reach at least 25 after star running back Eric Bieniemy fumbled five times during the first three quarters in dreary conditions at Memorial Stadium. But Bieniemy ultimately exemplified the gumption of the national champion Buffs by scoring four touchdowns in the fourth quarter while CU’s defense stifled the hosts. It was the first time the Buffs had won at Nebraska since 1967 and marked the first back-to-back victories against the Cornhuskers since 1960 and 1961.
2. Nov. 23, 2001: Colorado 62, Nebraska 36
Arguably one of the most talked-about games among the CU faithful, the ground game of the 14th-ranked Buffs steamrolled No. 2 Nebraska for 380 yards and eight touchdowns (nine total) on a festive day at Folsom. Chris Brown ran for 198 yards and Bobby Purify added 154 more as the Buffs secured the Big 12 Conference North Division crown, edging Texas a week later in the league title game. The win snapped a nine -game losing streak against Nebraska, the previous five of which saw the Buffs outscored by a heartbreaking total of only 15 points.
3. Oct. 25, 1986: Colorado 20, Nebraska 10
This was the win that served notice coach Bill McCartney’s quest to lift the Buffs’ program into national prominence was on the right track. Jeff Campbell scored on a 39-yard reverse and fellow receiver Lance Carl, now CU’s associate athletic director for business development, scored on a halfback pass from OC Oliver as the win against the third-ranked Cornhuskers became CU’s first against a ranked foe in eight years. The victory ended a run of 19 consecutive losses and 23 losses in 24 games for the Buffs against Nebraska.
4. Nov. 4, 1989: Colorado 27, Nebraska 21
A battle of unbeaten, top-five teams basically served as the Big 8 championship game. A 70-yard Darian Hagan-to-JJ Flannigan touchdown run on an option play was the offensive highlight. A total of 601 media credentials, a program record at the time, were issued in a sign of how much interest McCartney’s Buffs suddenly were generating on the national stage just three years removed from a 6-6 campaign.
5. Oct. 29, 1994: Nebraska 24, Colorado 7
Memorable for all the wrong reasons for Buffs fans. It forever will be an intriguing barstool debate which CU team was more talented between the ’90 national champs and the ’94 Buffs, but a crushing defeat in Lincoln denied the Buffs a chance to play for another title in an 11-1 season highlighted early by the Miracle at Michigan and bookended later by McCartney’s stunning decision to retire.
6. Nov. 26, 2004: Colorado 26, Nebraska 20
An unlikely third Big 12 North Division title in four seasons became a reality after the Buffs managed to win in Lincoln. While the Buffs were routed a week later in the league championship game by Oklahoma, CU could take satisfaction in ending a run of 35 consecutive bowl appearances by Nebraska. It also gave the Buffs their first back-to-back wins in Lincoln since the early 1950s.
7. Nov. 18, 1961: Colorado 7, Nebraska 0
Though the Buffs enjoyed the rare distinction of being favored in Lincoln that particular year, the nail-biting victory clinched CU’s only conference crown between 1942 and 1988. A dominant effort by the CU defense resulted in an 0-for-12 mark for Nebraska in the passing game and just 31 rushing yards on 23 attempts for the hosts.
8. Nov. 24, 2000: Nebraska 34, Colorado 32
A young Buffs team finished 3-8 and wouldn’t enjoy payback against the Cornhuskers for another year, but a heartbreaking finale to the 2000 season nonetheless heightened expectations the Buffs delivered on in 2001. Still, it was a bitter taste to take into the postseason, as a late Buffs score was followed by a botched squib kick on the ensuing kickoff. Nebraska took advantage of the good field position to boot a long field goal and escape with a win in the waning seconds.
9. Nov. 23, 2007: Colorado 65, Nebraska 51
For pure entertainment value, it’s hard to top the 116-point, 1,128-yard extravaganza in the ’07 home finale. Hugh Charles rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Cody Hawkins threw for 241 yards with two touchdowns. It was the most points the Buffs have ever scored against Nebraska and ranks as the second-highest scoring total by either team in their 69 all-time matchups (behind only the 69 points the eventual national champion Cornhuskers hung on CU in 1983).
10. Nov. 29, 2002: Colorado 28, Nebraska 13
The Buffs rebounded from a 1-2 start to the season to win eight of the next nine games, a run capped by what proved to be the first of two straight wins in Lincoln. Brian Calhoun rushed for 137 yards as the Buffs clinched another North Division crown and a second consecutive berth in the Big 12 title game.
Pat Rooney: email@example.com or twitter.com/prooney07