Rivals: CU Fans Ready For Showdown with Huskers
Buffs Lovers Say Rivalry Alive and Well
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Within the veritable treasure trove of college and pro football games spread out across the long Thanksgiving weekend, one game stands above them all for University of Colorado students, alumni around the world and many Boulder residents.
It's the one game that former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney separated out from all the others, and it stands as the game fans want the Buffs to win the most every year.
Yup, it's time to play Nebraska.
It doesn't even matter that Colorado (5-6, 2-5 Big-12 Conference) is fighting to become bowl eligible and extend its season. It's the Cornhuskers (7-4, 4-3), and Colorado's second-oldest rivalry -- dating back more than 100 years -- is always a big game.
"(Nebraska) is a close second to the Oakland Raiders as the most hated team in the state of Colorado, so it is obviously important," Bob, lead writer on Colorado-centric sports blog The Ralphie Report, wrote in an e-mail. "Like any rivalry game, winning is much sweeter than every game -- and losing is much more devastating."
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CU alum Stuart Whitehair agreed: "It is the game."
Friday's game is the 67th meeting between the two Big 12 North teams, and the Buffs will be looking for only their ninth win in Lincoln in series history -- a victory would be the first for Colorado away in the series since 2004.
Yet Buffs head coach Dan Hawkins has been playing down the rivalry in the press this week. Unlike the McCartney era, when Colorado directed its aim squarely at the Cornhuskers, there are no overt signs of rivalry. While the public does not know what happens behind closed doors during Buffs practice, in the media, at least, players are treating it as just another game.
It's still a huge rivalry for the fans, though.
Whitehair -- who runs Colorado sports site CUatthegame.com, and graduated from CU with bachelor's and law degrees -- counts it as the most important game of the season.
"There is no substitute. There is no comparison," Whitehair said. "Beating CSU is great. Beating top-10 teams is wonderful. Beating Nebraska makes a season.
"It's red that matters at CU, whether we say it or not."
What helps fuel the fire for CU fans is the sometimes-nonchalant manner with which Cornhusker fans treat the rivalry.
"Nebraska will pass this off as another game and act like they never truly embrace this game as a rivalry," Bob, of the Ralphie Report, said. "If Nebraska loses, it becomes more important to them, because Nebraska fan thinks CU should never beat them."
Whitehair noted: "They may not like to call us a rival, but they're stuck with us."
For its part, the Nebraska side of the Internet hasn't worked itself into a lather quite like Colorado fans have. On the Ralphie Reports' SportsBlogs Nation Nebraska-centric counterpart, Corn Nation, discussion of Friday's game and the rivalry was limited to a post Tuesday about CU fan behavior.
"It's hard to respect a conference foe and potentially see them as a rival when they have so much disrespect for themselves," the pro-Husker poster wrote. "Let's just continue to be better than them. It's not like the bar has been set very high."
However, Whitehair pointed out the amount of Nebraska posters on CU-related Web sites, including in the comments sections for CU articles on Buffzone.com: "There have been Nebraska fans on the site all season."
Buffs fans certainly are hoping for a positive result Friday.
"CU would send Nebraska 'fans' into a tizzy, the Buffs would qualify for a bowl, give the young freshman confidence," Bob said of a win. "It would help in recruiting in that the Buffs aren't sitting home for Christmas and most important, they would get a few extra weeks of practice, which always helps, especially when you are a young team.
"It would most definitely be a sweet way to end the season."