One factor will decide the winner of Friday’s showdown
November 19, 2001
It’s been five quarterbacks and countless field goals, made and missed, since I last watched the Colorado Buffs win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
It’s been years of broken plays, fourth-quarter comebacks and late-game leads thrown away and the happy Huskers always seem to put a “w” in the win column.
The looming question that nobody asks but everybody wonders is still hanging over the heads of nearly every Colorado sports aficionado is this the year?
Is this year that the Husker nation goes home with its tail between its legs, and leaves the Rocky Mountain Empire to take care of the Big 12 Championship game?
There is no easy way to answer this question, because when you talk about the Colorado-Nebraska game, you can throw away of the usual variables handicapping this game is like trying to find identical snowflakes if there was snow.
In the past five years the Huskers have beaten the Buffalos by a total of 15 points, and if you remember, the Huskers haven’t been out of the top-10 in that time.
Also remember in that time Colorado has covered nearly every spot in the top 20 and lower.
Thus, using the rankings to find a winner can go right out the window.
Talent could be a marker of who might win the game, but Nebraska has so much of it, while the Buffs have been riding the talent rollercoaster.
To sum it up from last year’s team alone, Nebraska had seven players drafted and nearly all of them have made an impact on their pro teams.
The Buffs, on the other hand, did something they haven’t done since Oliver North was in the news they did not have one player drafted last season.
This from a team that had the Huskers beat last year until the notorious squib kick with less than two minutes left in the game.
Talent may be important, but it is by no means the deciding factor between the Huskers and the Buffs.
This game between the mountains and the plains, the bovines and the bug-eaters, or the Buffs and Huskers comes down to one variable heart.
I can admit, albeit reluctantly, that of any major college program, Nebraska shows the most heart.
The Buffs, though, are right there every year at least when it comes to the Nebraska game.
The Buffs have put the game into the hands of such journeyman players as John Hessler and Mike Machie. Players whose glory days have only come in college, and they have always made the game close.
It’s the heart of these player that has carried them so close to beating the best in the Big 12, if not the nation in many years.
It has been players like Brady McDonald, and other defensive no-names who have melted into the collective unconscious of past players, who have picked up their play 110 percent for the last game of the year.
The Buffalos don’t need a huge, tragic bonfire like Texas A&M to show their burning desire to win against their biggest rivals.
They don’t need a meaningless trophy like an Apple Cup or Oaken Bucket to prove that this is a must-win game.
All it took to make the Colorado-Nebraska game what it is today was Bill McCartney two decades ago declaring that the Buffs are a championship program, and to prove it they’ll beat the best.
It’s been a decade since the Buffs have thundered to victory against the Huskers, or at least tied them, but the stands at Folsom Field are still packed with black and gold every year.
It’s been ten long years since both goal posts have kissed the ground in triumph. And it’s also been that long since the Buffalo silhouette on the east side of I-25, by the Wyoming boarder, has remained black instead of red.
I can’t say it will all end this year, that the Husker nation will be banished back across its boarder to sulk in their Busch and red beers.
The only thing I can say for sure don’t trust the spread.