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Thursday, October 14, 2010

CU’s Big 12 farewell tour lacks sparkle of NU’s

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L.G. Patterson/AP Photo

Colorado’s Luke Walters, right, and Ethan Adkins wait dejectedly on the sideline during the final seconds of CU’s 26-0 loss to Missouri last Saturday in Columbia, Mo. Unlike Nebraska, Colorado is having a lousy farewell tour of the Big 12.

No. 5 Nebraska got a raucous welcome at Kansas State as they faced the Wildcats for the last time as a Big 12 opponent.

It didn’t take long for the Huskers to quiet the crowd and turn the 95th and potentially final meeting between the longtime rivals last week into a rout.

Colorado? The Big 12’s other lame duck program is on the verge of going out on a much more silent note.

Nebraska is off to a fantastic start in its final Big 12 tour before joining the Big Ten next year. The Huskers (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) blew out Kansas State 48-13 and have things clicking on both sides of the ball heading into a huge date with Texas this weekend.

All the noise in the world didn’t bother Nebraska, which easily survived its first of two road games against Big 12 North opponents. The Huskers also visit Iowa State in early November.

“I wear headsets and don’t hear the noise, but I’m sure it was — at least, until we finished laying eggs — I think it was probably quite vocal,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.

The Buffaloes’ final conference trip to Missouri was a dud.

The 21st-ranked Tigers (5-0, 1-0) shut out Colorado 26-0, capping their rivalry with the Buffs with five straight wins by a combined score of 203-40.

Colorado had bounced back from a 52-7 loss at future Pac-12 rival California with wins over Hawaii and Georgia. But the Buffs lost their 13th straight road game against the Tigers on the 20th anniversary of the infamous “fifth down” game at Faurot Field.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said he didn’t think the atmosphere in Columbia was any crazier than usual. The bigger issue for the Buffs (3-2, 0-1) was Missouri’s defense, which handed Colorado just its second shutout in 262 games.

“We’re playing good team defense,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “We’re getting better each week, and with a lot of the little things, attention to detail things that we needed to do.”

Nebraska handled its final Big 12 road opener in impressive fashion, rolling over the Wildcats behind another brilliant performance from freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez.

Martinez, who was named the Big 12’s offensive player of the week, ran for 241 yards and threw for 128 more, leading the Huskers on four scoring drives that took five plays or less.

“He’s more than just a young guy that can run fast,” Snyder said. “We created some opportunities for him to showcase his speed and he took full advantage of it each and every time. I think he’s a very talented player.”

Next, the Huskers host Texas (3-2, 1-1) in a rematch of last year’s memorable league title game.

As few Nebraska fans will ever forget, the Longhorns were given an extra second at the end of the game after a video replay. That allowed Hunter Lawrence to boot a 46-yard field goal and deny Nebraska a trip to a BCS bowl game.

The game doesn’t have quite the buzz it was expected to have after the Longhorns fell to both UCLA and Oklahoma. But last year’s title game was followed by the conference realignment frenzy this summer, adding even more juice to the showdown between the two storied programs.

“I don’t get caught up in all the personal reasons or whatever else. I have nothing against Texas,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “What happened in the offseason, like I said, you control what you can control.”

Texas coach Mack Brown threw a bouquet to Nebraska’s fans, saying he believes the Huskers have the best crowd in college football.

“I’ve never seen an empty seat when we walk on the field before the game, and they’re all sitting there when you leave. They’re the most gracious fans I’ve ever seen and they love their team but they’re very knowledgeable,” Brown said. “They love a great college football game, and I don’t expect it to be any different.”

Colorado hosts Baylor on Saturday, and coach Dan Hawkins said he plans to start quarterback Tyler Hansen, who was yanked in favor of Cody Hawkins against Missouri.

The Bears gave up 45 points in a loss to Texas Tech on Saturday, so life could be easier for Hansen this week. But Colorado will also have to find a way to stop Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, who threw for a career-high 384 yards last week.

“He’s fun to watch. Extremely talented, and not just a runner. Can throw it, too,” coach Hawkins said. “It’s a huge challenge. Huge.”

Comments

NebraskaJayhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

I under the impression Colorado was going to be in the Big XII next year, and depart following next season. Am I mistaken in this?

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