CU-Nebraska: All the Makings of a Rivalry…Except

Colorado Buffaloes mascot Ralphie the Buffalo before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Folsom Field. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

How’d that taste, Corn?

Enjoy that trip to Boulder?

If what CU quarterback Steven Montez says is true – that Nebraska players were “talking trash” and “spitting” and “doing dirty stuff” at the bottom of piles – then this good ol’ Colorado-Nebraska rivalry might really be renewed after all. You can also bet that long drive (Is there an airport in Lincoln?) back through corn country was painful. Well, more painful than usual, that is.

Don’t forget, last season, then first-year head coach Scott Frost not only had his coming out party ruined by the Buffs, he also chased the performance by whining about the injury suffered by quarterback Adrian Martinez, essentially categorizing it as a dirty play.

It was not (says me, from Denver, Colorado).

“You never want to think anybody on a football field would intentionally try to hurt someone else,” Frost said after last year’s loss to the Buffs. “And nobody except someone that does that knows what the intentions were. I will tell you we have an angle that doesn’t look very good. So we’ve turned the play in to the Big Ten and the Pac-12, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

This year, he said his defense was tired.

Well, maybe you should work your team harder next offseason, Coach. More like, let’s say, Mel Tucker.

“We had the hardest summer workouts I’ve ever had in my life … it’s not a joke; I guarantee you, anybody on another college football team would quit. That’s just how hard it was,” said K.D. Nixon, who ran all over Big Red with 148 receiving yards without even breathing hard in the thin air of the Rockies.

The Buffs were as tough as nails, and when it mattered most, they shined.

Maybe this was karma, too. When he was a senior quarterback at Nebraska, Frost slipped out of Folsom with a “lucky” win.

“The bottom line is, we won the game,” famed Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said after that game in 1997. “But we almost lost to a team with five losses, so that is probably on the voters’ minds also. We just have to go out and win the next game and then our bowl game. That’s all we can do.”

Voters. Dr. Tom would go there. After all, it was Osborne who cast a ridiculous vote for the 1990 UPI national championship; it’s been rumored that Osborne placed the Buffs as low as fourth on his ballot (yet CU whipped up on Nebraska in Lincoln that year and ultimately convinced the Associated Press they were No. 1).

There’s no more voting, so there’s really only math. And lately, my fingers show that the Corn is 0-2 when playing against the Buffs. Nebraska came into the game ranked 25th. Colorado was (and likely will remain, at least this week) unranked.

That was one whale of a victory though, wasn’t it? A signature win for CU, and definitely one that served as a stamp of arrival for new Buffs coach Mel Tucker.

Besides, isn’t it great to hate?

The Pac-12 is wonderful. From top to bottom, there are appealing matchups every week of the schedule. The road trip opportunities far outweigh the roadies the old Big 8 and Big 12 used to offer, too.

But you’ve got to admit, there’s really nobody in the Pac-12 worth “hating” – not yet, not in Boulder. In the Pac-12, everything is just so, you know, chill.

Nebraska? Now there’s a school, a team, a fan base – a state – worth hating.

But you know what you should hate more than Nebraska, Buffs fans? The fact that those Carhart-wearin’, f’ball-lovin’ field-plowin’ sunz-a-gunz stormed up Highway 36 and took over your place.

That’s just plain embarrassing.

And the worst part is, you’ve got two seasons to sit around and think about how embarrassing that was. What if Nebraska had won? Oh, the shame.

The next time the Buffs and Huskers scheduled square off will be 2023 (in Boulder) and 2024 (at Lincoln).

Why they’re not playing more often is a column for another day, but for the Buffs, here’s what needs to happen between now and then: Keep winning (a rivalry isn’t a rivalry if one or both teams is irrelevant) and keep your tickets. Most corn-fed Huskers fans wouldn’t miss a rivalry game for anything; they damn sure aren’t selling their tickets to the opposition (…a great way to get your combine tractor’s tires slashed, I’d imagine).

Here’s hoping that when they meet again in 2023, both schools are ranked in the Top 10. And that there’s not a spec of red in Boulder.

Come on people, it’s a rivalry.

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