BOULDER – UnBufffulievable!
The CU-NU rivalry is alive. The revelry is back at Colorado.
Ralphie roams raucously after one of the most incredible rallies in Folsom Field’s fabled history.
With a phenomenal revival and resurgence Saturday afternoon, the Buffaloes overcame a halftime zilch, twice tied the Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter and outkicked them in overtime for a 34-31 victory.
At game’s conclusion about 15,000 of the standing-room-only throng of 52,829 rushed onto the field, and 25,000 Nebraskans stood Red-faced, silent and startled.
“Not a better place in America to be a head coach,’’ the Buffs’ Mel Tucker hyperbolized after his debut in Boulder. He still is undefeated after an opening triumph over Colorado State, too.
Too bad these teams, who first played 121 years ago in Boulder, don’t confront each other again until 2023 and ’24. The Buffs took the Huskers back-to-back in this renewal.
James Stefanou kicked the winning field goal in OT. Isaac Armstrong then missed his tying attempt, and the Flatirons erupted as if it were a volcano.
The Buffaloes, who have suffered Buffa-lows and -woes, punted six times and were intercepted once well into the third quarter.
Then, they scored four touchdowns and made two field goals in their final seven possessions.
Down 17-0 at the interlude, Tucker told his players that the Cornhuskers have taken their best shot, "and we haven’t even scratched the surface.’’ The Buffs players said they appreciated the coach’s reasoned address over a blaze-and-brimstone approach. Senior quarterback Steven Montez was particularly motivated given that the CU offense had played pitifully, producing just 84 yards in the opening half. He was perturbed. “Nebraska was trash-talking before kickoff, and they were spitting in the pile,’’ and he could see Red in the stadium.
Montez responded by finishing with 375 passing yards on 28 of 41 to eight receivers for two touchdowns, including one flea-flicker play connection for a CU-record 96 yards to K.D. Nixon. “That's just guts to even call that play on our own 5 (actually, 4). It just shows the guts from (offensive coordinator Jay Johnson) to make the call in the booth and send it down. We got the exact coverage we wanted. They thought we going to hand it off. ... I got the pitch back, and K.D. was screaming wide open so, I tried to give him a decent ball to run with,’’ Montez said.
Both sidelines and the crowd were shaken and stirred, and the Buffs drew stimulation from the shining moment. Colorado would score three touchdowns in a short span (from when 1:42 remained in the third quarter to the 12:19 mark of the last quarter). In between, Nebraska had a 75-yard touchdown throw from Adrian Martinez to Maurice Washington.
This got outrageous.
Nebraska linebacker Mohamed Barry said he believed “we were going to win this game, but what happened happened. ... We were better than that team, and in the second half we just didn’t finish.’’
In overtime the Cornhuskers were finished. The Buffs happened.
Each got an opportunity from the 25-yard line at the south end (toward the CU student body and band). With the east side burned into the sun and the west side in the shade, the Buffs started weakly with an illegal receiver (offensive lineman) penalty. But tailback Alex Fontenot sped for 18 yards. Following a failed run and two incomplete passes, Stefanou drilled the 34-yard field goal.
Then, it was the Huskers’ turn. Two runs netted 1 yard, and Martinez was smothered on a sack by defensive tackle Mustafa Johnson for a 7-yard loss. Armstrong’s 48-yard kick was weird and wide right.
Nebraska — the team, the Husker-Do’s in the stand and the entire state — was befuddled. The Cornhuskers failed for the second season to earn their 50th victory in the series. CU has won 21, and there have been two ties.
NU arrived ranked 25th, and CU was unacknowledged.
The Cornhuskers dominated early, but wilted late. Altitude and attitude would doom Nebraska.
After the hysteria involving fans, students and players on the field, the Buffs went into the locker room, threw water everywhere, turned the music full blast and celebrated consecutive victories over Nebraska for the first time since 2001-02.
It was a Hullabaloo and a HelluvaBuffs renaissance.