The Colorado Buffaloes (1-0, Pac-12) come home for the first time in the 2019 season for a renewed rivalry with former conference foes, 25th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0, Big Ten). It is one of the oldest rivalries in CU history with both teams meeting for a 71st time going back to 1898.
As luck would have it, the Buffs rallied against the Huskers for a 33-28 win last year in Lincoln. Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. spoiled the homecoming for Scott Frost by way of a 40-yard go-ahead touchdown pass with 1:06 remaining in the first meeting between both teams since 2010. Nebraska was the better team in that 2018 matchup, but the Buffs earned that win with clutch play.
Nebraska struggled to take care of South Alabama last Saturday, as they needed three non-offensive touchdowns to get the 35-21 win in their season opener. On the other hand, Colorado hammered away at Colorado State for a 52-31 victory in head coach Mel Tucker’s first Rocky Mountain Showdown. Saturday’s matchup is the first-ever meeting between Tucker and Frost for their respective teams.
Montez looked crisp against CSU by completing 13-of-20 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, but it was Alex Fontenot who emerged as the go-to option out of the Buffs backfield. The freshman rusher mashed up 19 carries for 125 yards and three scores on the night.
The ability to convert turnovers into points was a key for the Buffs offense to dominate the Rams. A total of 17 points from two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Expect Montez’s senior leadership to be a factor for the Buffs’ offensive efficiency, especially against a stout team like Nebraska. The El Paso native will be relying on primary targets KD Nixon, Jalen Harris and Laviska Shenault to make plays, along with constructing lengthy drives for CU to keep Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez from establishing a rhythm.
“We have to keep (Martinez) in the pocket and make him pass. If we make him pass, I feel that’s probably one of his weaknesses,” Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor said earlier this week. Not far off considering Martinez rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns against the Buffs last year.
Martinez garnered preseason Heisman consideration after a record-breaking freshman season. He was the first true freshman passer to set records at Nebraska, including touchdowns by a freshman (17), total offensive yards from scrimmage by a freshman (3,246) and completion percentage by a freshman (64%).
Among the Huskers receivers, two will stand out against the Buffs defense. Jack Stoll led Nebraska with three catches for 66 yards against South Alabama last week. The tight end from Lone Tree is one of five Colorado natives on the Huskers roster. Stoll is joined by returning Junior JD Spielman who’ll be looking to fill-in the gaps as go-to options for Martinez.
Nebraska’s offensive attack will have to do better against Colorado that their outing last Saturday after a total of 276 total yards and averaging a low 2.2 yards per carry on the ground. Martinez ended the day going 13-of-22 for 178 yards and an interception. No word if Scott Frost will make running back Maurice Washington available for the game either. Washington has made headlines recently after facing felony child pornography charges. Frost initially suspended Washington for the first half vs. South Alabama and said his status was a “game-time decision” vs. Colorado.
News and notes
From the desk of Dave Plati:
“Deuces Wild. Graduate S Mikial Onu picked off two passes against CSU; he had three in his 36-game career at SMU, and is the first Buff to pickoff two in a game since Tedric Thompson had a pair against Utah in Boulder on Nov. 26, 2016 – AND – Colorado had two quarterback sacks in the fourth quarter against the Rams; the Buffs had four total in the fourth quarter in all of 2018.”
A series overview
“Nebraska leads the all-time series by a 49-19-2 count, which includes a 26-9 advantage in Lincoln and a 23-10-2 edge in Boulder; some CU highlights:
- The two first met in 1898, making it the second oldest rivalry in CU’s books (the Colorado State series began in 1893). The winner of the CU-Nebraska game, even though not at the end of the year, wound up deciding the Big Eight champion in the conference’s last seven years of existence, with CU winning the league crown in 1989 and 1990. The two shared the title in 1991 and Nebraska captured the last four (1992-95). Thus, it was only fitting that the pair met to determine the Big 12’s first North Division champ in 1996 (Nebraska won, 17-12 in Lincoln). CU has faced Nebraska 18 times when the Huskers were either undefeated or had just one loss (nine times each); CU’s had zero or just one loss on eight occasions, and both schools were ranked in the top 25 in every meeting from 1988 through 1996, as they were again in 2001.
- The infamous 62-36 Colorado win in 2001 in Boulder knocked the Huskers out of the No. 1 spot in the BCS Standings and paved the way for CU’s first and only Big 12 title, as the Buffaloes defeated Texas the following week in Dallas, 39-37.
- Nebraska rallied for a 31-22 win in 2003 and knocked the Buffs out of a postseason bowl. CU returned that favor with bigger implications in 2004, as a 26-20 win in Lincoln dropped NU to 5-6 on the year and ended the Huskers’ run of 35 straight bowl game appearances. Both schools were 5-6 entering the 2007 game, with CU’s 65-51 win keeping Nebraska home; and in 2008, Nebraska did the same to the Buffs, scoring 10 points in the last 1:43, dropping CU to 5-7 and home for the holidays.”
Did you know?
From 1951 to 1961, officials from Nebraska and Colorado exchanged a mounted buffalo head, nicknamed Mr. Chip. The bison was lost after CU’s win in 1961 and the tradition was never started again.
Colorado ushers in No. 25 Nebraska into Folsom Field for the first time as non-conference opponents. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. MT with a sellout crowd of over 50,000+ expected. A large number of Nebraska fans will be making the 500-mile trip to be in attendance as well. Tickets for the rivalry game peaked above a $370 average this week.
The two schools will meet again in four years, with Nebraska visiting Boulder on Sept. 9, 2023 and the Buffs returning to Lincoln on Sept. 7, 2024.
TV: FOX (National)
Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)
Weather forecast: 84° Mostly cloudy; 20 % chance of rain at kickoff
Odds: -4 Nebraska