Huskers, Buffs battle to frigid deadlock
Colorado free safety Greg Thomas leaped into the air and, accompanied by a barrage of snowballs, blocked Byron Bennett’s attempt to win the game for Nebraska with a 41-yard field-goal on the last play of the game.
And, when the ball rolled out of bounds as time ran out, Nebraska and Colorado had finished in a 19-19 deadlock in their Big Eight showdown at the Buffaloes’ frozen Folsom Field.
There was some measure of satisfaction in the tie for both teams. For Nebraska, the Huskers overcame a disappointing first half with a dominating second half to get into position to win, despite playing on the road in subzero wind chills. For two-time conference champ Colorado, the blocked field goal kept Nebraska from putting itself in the driver’s seat for the Big Eight title.
In the first half, Nebraska managed just four first downs and 10 net rushing yards. The Huskers passed for 87 in the first 30 minutes, but 38 of those came on the first play of the game, Keithen McCant-to-Johnny Mitchell to set up a 27-yard Bennett field goal for a 3-0 lead. The other came on a 49-yard McCant-to-Jon Bostick TD pass to cut CU’s lead to 10-9 1:17 before halftime. In between the two completions, McCant misfired on seven in a row.
But Nebraska failed to tie the game when CU’s Jeff Brunner blocked Bennett’s PAT kick, and teammate Greg Biekert picked up the loose ball and ran it back 85 yards to give the Buffs a 12-9 halftime lead.
The Huskers drove from their 14 to the Colorado 17 on their first possession of the second half to tie at 12 on Bennett’s 35-yard field goal, but the Buffs came right back and drove 68 yards to regain the lead, 19-12, on Darian Hagan’s 4-yard run with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
After that, it was almost all Nebraska as the Huskers had six first downs to one and outyarded the Buffs, 127-24, the rest of the way. One of nine on third-down conversions in the first three quarters, NU was four of six in the fourth.
I-back Derek Brown, held to 4 yards on 10 rushes in the first half, ran for 92 in second half, including 54 in the fourth, when he scored the tying touchdown on a 7-yard run with 6:41 left.
After an exchange of punts, Nebraska got the ball back at its 46 with 1:05 left, and McCant guided the Huskers to the CU 23 and called timeout with 4 seconds left. Bennett trotted onto the field but had to wait through three Colorado time-outs before getting to kick, and Thomas ended the Huskers’ victory hopes.
Notes: The tie for Nebraska was its first in 191 games since 1976 … Brown failed to get 100 rushing yards for the first times in eight games, finishing with 96, but became Nebraska’s 11th 1,000-yard rusher (1,033), the fifth to do so as a sophomore.
Quote of the game: “This was just like kissing your sister on a cold, cold, cold night. No satisfaction in that … but maybe a game like this should end up in a tie.” – Colorado nose tackle Jeff Brunner.