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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska • Page 51
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska • Page 51

Lincoln, Nebraska
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HUSKER EXTRA Lincoln Journal Star 11 Saturday, November 24, 2001 JLL1. CU not surprised by its dominance a W.V 4A I 4rT TED KIRKLincoln Journal Star Colorado running back Chris Brown (22) leaves Husker defenders Jamie Burrow (48) and Ryon Bingham (59) behind as he bolts into the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. It was Brown's fifth score in his six-TD day and was the second of his three TD runs in the span of 3:09 to help the Buffs stretch a 42-30 lead to 62-30 with 9:41 to play. BY JOSHUA BUECHLER Lincoln Journal Star BOULDER, Colo. Off to the right side of the hallway leading into Colorado's locker room stands CU's "Wall of Big Wins." Three wins from this season Colorado State, Kansas State and Texas had already been added, and the next gold square in line read simply, "Next" It shouldn't take long for that square to read, Colorado 62, Nebraska 36.

With the most dominating offensive performance ever against a Husker defense, the Buffaloes won the Big 12 North Division title and a trip to Dallas to play in the Big 12 Championship game against either Oklahoma or Texas next Saturday. The Buffaloes said they were going to line up and run it straight at the No. 2-ranked Comhuskers and that" exactly what they did Friday. CU gained 380 yards on the ground, powered by Chris Brown's 198 yards and six touchdowns. "I think they took us for granted," Brown said.

"They thought they were going to come in here and just manhandle us like they do every year. "We were just blowing them off the ball and it didn't seem like they wanted it that much." Colorado's 582 total yards were its most against Nebraska and its 62 points were the most by a Nebraska opponent The 26-point margin of victory was also Nebraska's largest loss since losing 45-10 to Oklahoma in 1990 the same year Colorado last beat the Huskers. "We shocked the world today I'll tell you that much," senior quarterback Bobby Pesavento said. "But I guarantee that we didn't shock anybody around here." After starting running back Cort-len Johnson went down with a sprained knee on CU's first play, Colorado Coach Gary Bamett first turned to Bobby Purify, who scored a 39-yard touchdown on his first run of the game Purify reached the end zone untouched and Brown did the same later on a 36-yard TD run that put the Buffaloes up 42-16. The gaping holes and the ease with which Colorado executed surprised mostly everyone but Brown and many of his offensive cohorts.

"They were scared," Brown said of the Huskers. "They didn't want to hit any of our backs. They acted like they were the No. 1 team in the country and they really weren't We showed them" Bamett said Colorado's game plan was that not a single new play was put in preparing for Nebraska. Purify rushed for 154 yards and Pesavento kept NU off-balance with 202 yards passing, but the talk of the day was Brown, who had just four rushes in Colorado's last three games.

"Chris was on a roll" Bamett said. "We've always gone with the hot back, and they couldn't tackle Chris. He was coming out of it and playing like a rage guy out there." Brown's touchdown runs were 12, 1, 36, 1, 13 and 8 yards. His final three TDs CU's only scores of the second half, ensured Nebraska would not be able to pull off another miraculous comeback against Colorado after pulling within 12 points in the third quarter. "There was a switch in momentum there in the game for a little bit but you did get the feeling that we were going to have to outscore them to win the game," Bamett said.

Brown made sure that didn't happen, but the sophomore didn't want to take any of the limelight from his offensive line, which knocked Nebraska off the ball more effectively than any team this year. By John Mabry and Curt McKeever RUNNING GAME Two costly lost fumbles by Dahrran Diednck one that set up a Colorado score and one that denied the Huskers a TD keep this from being an A. Nebraska pretty much was able to run at will even though it got in a position where the Buffaloes could fJin their ears back and come after Eric Crouch. Special citation to Thunder Collins, who toughed it out to the end despite suffering an ankle sprain in the first half. PASSING GAME Crouch threw for 198 yards, but of his 13 completions, five came at the end of the first half when CU played a soft prevent defense.

And his 78yard screen pass in the second quarter to Wilson Thomas probably wouldn't have been completed had it not been tipped. Colorado's secondary did a good job of holding (up) TE Tracey Wistrom. AGAINST THE RUN The Buffaloes' strength is running the ball. But they still were averaging just 214 yards entering Friday, and Nebraska was allowing 93. CU dominated the line of scrimmage early, and later after the Huskers had clawed within striking range.

Chris Brown and Bobby Purity ended up having the fourth- and llthbest days ever against NU. AGAINST THE PASS Colorado TE Daniel Graham looked like a bumper on a pinball machine shaking off tacklers on his four catches. No other Buffalo caught more than one pass, but two interference penalties were killers on a drive that Colorado took to the end zone to make it 49-30 early in the fourth quarter. SPECIAL TEAMS NU punter Kyle Larson averaged 45 yards and had a great feel for angling balls out of bounds and away from the nation's leading punt returner, Roman HolloweN, who had just one runback for 11 yards. Too bad Josh Davis didn't decide to down CU's first two kickoffs in the end zone.

He got to the 17-yard line on the first and was smacked to the turf at the 13 on the second. PLAY-CALLING Nebraska got a lot of things going offensively in the second half with some physical up-tJiemiddle play. Where was that kind of thinking in the early going? As for the defense, Colorado may have been more physical up front than the Blackshirts imagined, but it sure looked like they were out of place on a lot of occasions. GAME MANAGEMENTPENALTIES Nebraska could have used more than one timeout at the end of the first half, but we had no problem with the two they took previously before a failed fourth-down play from the CU 49 with the score 140 and before a similar situation from the Buffs' 36 with the score 28-3. Why not go for it, though, on fourtlano9 from the CU 40 with the score 42-30? As for penalties, a false start rendered the first timeout useless, as NU purjted.

WeVe already mentioned the pass-interference flags (which were both arguable). OVERALL Maybe Colorado was due to end its streak of misfortune against the Huskers. But 62-36? Now we know how Florida felt after the "96 Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska can only hope for a return to Temps now, but what's more likely is that the Huskers fall all the way out of the BCS food chain. Bad losses late in the season are harder for those guys in the brightlycolored coats to forget.

The running lanes were an espe dally hot topic among the players. "They were huge," Brown said. "There wasn't even a question where you were going to go. "Any of our tailbacks could've done it It wasn't that hard." Senior offensive lineman Victor Rogers saw CU's opportunity for success watching film of Nebraska and said history dictated the kind of day the offense had. "If you look at the last two years, we knew we were going to be able to run on them," he said.

"It was just a question of whether we would have to wear them down and do it in the fourth quarter or do it early." Turns out, Colorado did both, scoring 28 points in the first quarter and 20 in the fourth. With that dominance, which Bamett called overwhelming, Colorado beat Nebraska for the first time in Its' last 10 tries, ending years of frustration for many players including Rogers. "It's like we just got our biggest paycheck," he said. "This is the oig-gest payback of our careers to be able to go in and control the tempo like we did, but nothing can make up for the last five years. One player was even overheard saying this was the greatest day of his life.

But at 9-2, most of the Buffaloes were already turning their focus to spoiling another contender for the national championship be it Oklahoma or Texas. "We've got to knock off Oklahoma next week and, hopefully, they won't be making a championship run, either," Purify said. Reach Joshua Buechler at 473-7431 or i i I LANE HICKENBOTTOMLincoln Journal Star Husker split end Wilson Thomas (9) fights against the tackle attempt of Colorado's Robbie Robinson at the end of a 78-yard pass reception late in the second quarter. Thomas was pushed out of bounds at the CU 2-yard line, setting up a Dahrran Diedrick touchdown.

noise How surprising was the outcome? Mark Spurgin, Paxton: "Actually, I thought Colorado would win about 21-17 because the last three (games) we squeaked by. (Colorado) played a complete ball game." Ted Thieman, Lincoln: "This is thejnost hostile environment I've ever been in. I thought Nebraska would win by about 7 to 10, but they dug themselves too big of a hole early. We stopped the run all year long, but we couldn't stop it tonight." What are Eric Crouch's Heisman hopes now? Phil Moyer, Omaha: "They are in trouble. We had to win today to keep him eligible, but he played well.

Ted Thieman, Lincoln: "Probably slim to none, ft takes victories and he's one of the best leaders. It just didn't work out" Why couldn't the Nebraska defense stop Colorado's running game? Mike Dux, Fairbury: "Our linebackers played one of the worst games I've seen. There were a lot of holes up the middle and when we tried to bring pressure, it was in the wrong place." Butch Moyer, Nebraska City: "The Colorado offensive line just overpowered us and got on a roll." Phil Moyer, Omaha: "I don't know. They (the Huskers) tackled poorly and maybe they showed us some schemes we hadn't seen. The effort was there, but the holes were just real big." Joshua Buechler around the press box.

Forgive me if I skip those details. Wow! Before this debacle, Big Red was steaming toward the Rose Bowl (or at least its way back to another BCS game), while Eric Crouch was getting ready to strike a pose at the Heisman Trophy presentatioa Now, the Huskers will take leftovers and Crouch, even with a school-record, 360-yard game, will probably have to settle for a consolation prize of rubbing shoulders with all the winners who are at the Downtown Athletic dub of New York in a couple of weeks. What's the shame in either of those McKeever Continued From IF Colorado's seniors on suicide watch. Remember, this is a group that had been a part of three straight losses to NU in games that easily could have gone the other way. But before anyone could call 91 1, slow-footed quarterback Bobby Pesavento broke free for a 22-yard scramble to start a 93-yard touchdown drive.

It's 49-30 at that point and after CU's next series it's 55-30 and they're passing Big 12 Championship game ticket information sheets situations? Absolutely nothing. Nebraska got teat Friday, something that's happened to the Huskers at least once a year in 26 of the past 30 seasons. To all the overzealous fans who were dead-set on a trip to Pasadena, nows the time to point fingers at whomever it takes to make you feel better. It's also time to jump off the train because your season just got derailed. To everyone else, I'd suggest the ride has still been fun.

And don't feel too bad about giving up your first-class seat Think how long Colorado's been in coach. Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or ctiKlueverjrjuiiialstar.corn. Jtt Ml ft 4 sift too much mountain air. Truth be told, we really don't need all these pages to tell the story, Husker defensive tackle Jeremy Slechta said it best when he named that swoon in eight words. "They played great and we played like crap," Slechta said And when it was over, fens colored in black and gold came charging over the fences like Bobby Purify and Chris Brown through a lineofBlackshirts.

One of those fans was Tim Higgins of Denver. Higeins said he helped take apart a goalpost in 1986 when CU knocked off a third-ranked Nebraska team 20-10 in Boulder. His buddy still has a scar from the '86 goalpost attack. The terrible twosome got another piece of the action Friday. This one is way sweeter)" Higgins said CU grad Dagen Hambacher and his son Michaenust stood on the field and soaked it all in, just staring at the scoreboard at the stands.

"It's damn exciting," Hambacher said "We could just stand here for a while and watch. It's not every day you get to watch Nebraska fans sit in stunned silence." Reach John Mabry at 473-7320 or Mabry Continued From IF Bamett a big Buffalo hug after the game. "We've been close the last five years. But to finally pull it out, and to win this big, just puts the cherry on all the hard work." Hagan admitted to some third-quarter butterflies.

When Eric Crouch scored with four minutes left in the third quarter and the Huskers made it 42-30, it did appear that another NU-CU freak show was in the making. "When Nebraska got within 12 points, everyone in the stadium was scared," Hagan said That's when Colorado in tribute to fallen former Buffs such as John Minardi and Jeremy Aldrich and Mike Moschetti and Javon Green and Marcus Stiggers and Matt Russell stopped and said "Not this time. Not here. Not now." Colorado outscored the Huskers 20-6 in the fourth quarter and washed away years of pain by pinning NU with one of the most emrjarrassing losses in Husker history. Anyone who says it wasn't emrjarrassing has been breathing i i v-- A WILLIAM LAUERLincoln Journal Star I I V7 THE ASSOCIATLO PRESS Nebraska l-back Dahrran Diedrick (30) outruns Colorado linebacker Drew Wahlroos (16) on a 32-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, cutting CU's lead to 35-16.

Diedrick, a junior from Stratford, Ontario, rushed for 94 yards and two scores on 16 carries, but had a pair of fumbles that hurt the Colorado Coach Gary Barnett watches his defense from the sidelines Saturday. The win was Bamett's first against Nebraska after a pair of nail-biters..

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