The big game we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. The dreaded Nebraska Cornhuskers return to Folsom Field for the first time since 2019, and some good old-fashioned hatred will be reignited between these two sides. Last time Nebraska came to town, the Buffs were looking to prove themselves and knock down the 25th ranked Huskers. This year, the tables have turned. The Buffs look to defend their No.22 rank against a hungry 0-1 Nebraska squad that has a lot of questions to answer.
The Cornhuskers lost a close 13-10 game to Minnesota to open their season, and new head coach Matt Rhule now has to lead his team into what will be an extremely hostile Folsom Field. Rhule took a couple of cheap shots earlier this spring against Coach Prime and his overhaul of the CU team through the transfer portal, which didn’t sit well with Buffs faithful.
“I hear other school’s say I can’t wait for [the day the transfer portal opens]. I can’t wait to coach my guys, let me tell you that,” said Rhule in April. “I’m not thinking about anybody else but this team out here.”
If we’ve learned anything about Coach Prime, it’s that he keeps receipts. You can bet on the fact that Colorado will be using Rhule’s April criticism for motivation this week.
On the field, the Buffs have a pretty favorable matchup with the Huskers. Nebraska’s biggest strength on defense is their front line and run prevention. This is good for Colorado, since their offense is heavily reliant on the pass. Last week, the Buffs barely ran the ball at all. This week, Coach Prime may employ some new tactics though. He said in press conferences this week that transfer running back Kavosiey Smoke will make his season debut. This may breathe some life into the Buffs run game, and they’ll need it against a good Nebraska defensive line.
Nebraska’s secondary is serviceable, but it is something that this high flying Buffs offense can take advantage of. Last week against Minnesota, the Huskers secondary allowed 196 passing yards and the Gophers only touchdown. Minnesota’s offense is nowhere near as good as Colorado’s, so it might be fair to expect a bit of a fireworks show this week from quarterback Shedeur Sanders and company.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Buffs line is going to need to step it up this week if they want to come away with a win. Rhule’s team employs an especially good rushing attack, and that is a bit of a concern. Last week, the Buffs run prevention unit didn’t look so great. They got trampled by TCU’s running backs for long break away runs on quite a few instances. Nebraska ran for 181 yards last week, with their quarterback Jeff Sims picking up 91 yards on the ground alone. If the Buffs can fix up their defensive line, this week could be a cake walk.
The Cornhuskers aren’t a very prolific passing team. This is good for the Buffs, as their secondary should be able to shut down any threats downfield. Last week against TCU, the unit proved it had some improvement to do but it was extremely clutch. Nebraska only threw for 114 yards in week one, so Travis Hunter and fellow defensive backs should have no problem handling the Huskers’ receivers downfield. If Hunter can have even a remotely similar performance to last week’s game, his Heisman hype is going to only keep building. Another pick this week would do wonders for that narrative.
Nebraska had a pretty good game on special teams last week, which is extreme cause for concern for the Buffs. Colorado’s biggest weakness is probably their special teams, especially their opponent’s kick returns. CU let TCU get 150 yards off kicks alone last week, which is scary to see as a Buffs fan. Nebraska had 78 kick return yards against a very disciplined Minnesota unit. The Buffs absolutely need to hold their own on special teams this week if they went to win. Letting Nebraska get 100+ yards off the kick this week isn’t going to fly. On the flip side, CU can prove to the fans that they have improved their special teams if they do a good job this week. Hopefully, it will be the latter option.
The Buffs are currently three point favorites, but it would be so great to see Nebraska get absolutely demolished at Folsom and keep the Prime train rolling. Fans can tune into Fox to at 10 a.m. on Sept. 9 to watch one of this week’s most anticipated game.