Nebraska-Colorado Is No Game to Leave Early
How much more heartbreak can a team take?
Two years ago, Colorado lost to Nebraska, 33-30, in overtime after missing a 34-yard field goal in the final minute of regulation that would have won it.
A year ago, Colorado lost to Nebraska, 34-32, after going ahead on a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 47 seconds left and then giving up a 29-yard field goal as time expired.
No. 2 Nebraska and No. 14 Colorado square off Friday in Cliffhanger III, with more at stake for the teams than in the previous two meetings.
The winner becomes the Big 12 North champion and advances to the conference’s title game Dec. 1 against Oklahoma or Texas.
“We’ve had our chances, and we just didn’t pay attention to detail,” Colorado offensive tackle Victor Rogers said of the two previous losses. “It’s going to be a matter of who pays attention to detail and who wants it more.”
Who wants it more?
“We do,” Rogers said.
“Right now, I’m definitely willing to take at least a flesh wound for it,” he said.
Colorado senior tailback Cortlen Johnson can hardly wait for kickoff.
"[We] worked out the whole year after that Nebraska loss last year, keeping it in the back of our minds as motivation,” Johnson said.
“It’s beyond words how this team is feeling and the excitement we have going into this game.
“It’s been awhile since a Colorado team has been in position to play Nebraska for a championship, or at least a chance to go to a championship.”
Despite the close scores--the last five games have been decided by a combined 15 points--Nebraska has won the last nine.
Colorado’s last victory was 27-12 in 1990 at Lincoln, which helped propel the Buffaloes to their only national championship. The teams tied, 19-19, the following year.
The Cornhuskers (11-0, 7-0 in Big 12 play) have been No. 1 for four consecutive weeks in the bowl championship series ratings.
A victory against Colorado and in the Big 12 title game would lock up one of two spots in the Rose Bowl, which will decide the BCS national title.
“No one on this team has been in this position unless they were a redshirt freshman like myself when we won the national championship in 1997,” Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch said.
“There are very few teams out there in this position. We know we control our own destiny.”
Colorado (8-2, 6-1) will go with backup quarterback Bobby Pesavento, who has started three games this season, including the last two in place of the injured Craig Ochs. The Buffaloes have scored 78 points in the last two games.
“I was only involved in last year’s [Nebraska] game, and that was horrible,” Pesavento said.
“It was heartbreaking, standing there and watching them go down and kick that field goal. From what I’ve heard, it’s been like that for the last five years.
“I want to win this game for all the seniors who have been here for five years and have gone through all of it. But we also need to win it because our goal at the start of the season was to get to the Big 12 championship.”
Nebraska leads the nation in rushing at 311 yards per game and Colorado is 16th at 214. The Buffaloes average 216 yards passing, Nebraska 131.
Nebraska gives up 260 yards per game, Colorado 327.