Colorado beats Nebraska 65-51
Vail, CO Colorado
BOULDER, Colorado ” He was trying to make a good final impression. Instead, Bill Callahan gave his athletic director and all those die-hard Nebraska fans one last glimpse of what a proud program looks like when it’s disintegrating.
The once-mighty Cornhuskers gave up 34 straight points in the second half Friday en route to another loss by a videogame score ” 65-51 to Colorado, which now has a shot at a bowl bid that could have gone to Nebraska.
Instead, the Huskers will go home with only their second losing record since 1962 ” both have come during Callahan’s four seasons in Lincoln.
Cody Hawkins threw for 241 yards and Hugh Charles ran for 169 yards and three scores to lift the Buffs (6-6, 4-4 Big 12) to the break-even mark in an up-and-down season that includes a victory over Oklahoma and a loss to Iowa State.
As always, a blowout over Nebraska (5-7, 2-6), in the highest-scoring game in the history of the 66-game series, will be a highlight for Colorado. But as everybody knows by now, this year’s Huskers are nothing like the old Big Red.
Next up at Nebraska ” that long-awaited meeting, scheduled for Saturday, between Callahan and interim athletic director Tom Osborne, the one-time coach who never would have let a debacle like this unfold at Folsom Field.
For a while, it didn’t seem destined to end this way.
Nebraska rolled through the first half. The Cornhuskers scored 73 points in their last game, a win over Kansas State, and led 35-24 at halftime of this one after piling up 393 yards against a Buffs defense that has had plenty of its own problems this year.
In the third quarter, some poor sideline management turned the game into another Big Red embarrassment.
Leading by 11 and facing third-and-2 from its own 19, Nebraska got nailed with consecutive 5-yard penalties ” once for illegal substitution and once for delay of game. That made it third-and-12, and on that play, Huskers quarterback Joe Ganz threw the ball straight to Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, who returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.
On Nebraska’s next offensive play, Ganz underthrew Nate Swift, who batted the ball in the air to be intercepted by Lionel Harris. Four plays later, Charles ran 7 yards to put Colorado ahead 44-35.
Nebraska’s next drive ended in a blocked punt, which led to another CU touchdown, and suddenly a 10-point Nebraska lead had become a 16-point deficit.
Ganz threw another pick late in the fourth quarter ” this one batted up by receiver Maurice Purify, which led to a 51-yard interception return by Cha’pelle Brown and Charles’ third score for a 58-35 lead.
That was 34 straight points, five straight touchdowns, and when the Buffs answered a garbage Nebraska touchdown with one of their own, they because the second team to hang 60 on the Huskers this month. Kansas beat Nebraska 76-39 three weeks ago.
For Colorado, this win will look good alongside that 62-36 blowout over Nebraska in 2001 that led to CU’s last Big 12 title. This was the first time CU has cracked 60 since then.
Ganz finished with 484 yards passing for the Huskers and holds plenty of promise for whoever coaches him next year. Purify had 11 catches for 136 yards and three scores, but also had his share of drops and bobbles that cost the Huskers.
Of course, offense hasn’t been Nebraska’s problem this year.
The defense surrendered 518 yards, which was 45 yards above its average.
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