Husker offensive miscues fuel Buff stampede

By Steve Beideck 

BOULDER, Colorado – Nebraska had several chances in the first half to make Colorado play at a deficit. 

Unfortunately for the Huskers – just as they did nine days earlier at Minnesota – Nebraska let the No. 22-ranked Buffaloes hang around long enough to gather themselves and earn a 36-14 victory. 

The only difference Saturday at Folsom Field was that instead of winning on the final play of the game, as the Gophers did in the season opener, Colorado steadily wore the Huskers down in the second half on the way to the win between the former Big Seven/Eight/12 conference foes. 

It was a crushing setback for the Huskers after they had legitimate chances to earn a victory in both games. 

Instead of 2-0 or even 1-1, Nebraska heads into a stretch of three consecutive home games looking to post its first victory of the Matt Rhule era. 

Nebraska will host Northern Illinois Sept. 16 in a 6 p.m. prime time game on FS1.

With its list of game-changing offensive errors growing longer, however, the Huskers do not appear to be ready for prime time. 

Colorado, meanwhile, has proven ready for the bright lights quicker than the Huskers just two games into their own program rebuild under coach Deion “Prime Time” Sanders. 

Both NU losses, and how they happened, are stinging reminders of just how far the Nebraska program has fallen since NU and the Buffs played meaningful games as conference rivals. 

Sanders, meanwhile, has already helped erase frustrations the Buffaloes had in an abysmal 1-11 campaign in 2022. Such a quick fix doesn’t appear to be the path the Huskers will take this season. 

Big plays by Colorado’s explosive offense did the trick against a Nebraska defense that put up a strong effort in the first half, only to not get enough help from its offense in the final 30 minutes before a sellout crowd of 53,241 at Folsom Field. 

How Colorado was able to make the big plays in the second half – those that make end-of-the-year highlight

tapes – was kindled by the Nebraska offense in the first half. 

The Huskers committed three turnovers and had four ill-timed penalties that once again short-circuited scoring chances. Other mistakes also helped Colorado score 13 points in the final 4:20 of the first half to take a halftime lead that easily could have belonged to the Huskers. 

Much of the blame must be put on the shoulders of quarterback Jeff Sims, who threw the interception and lost one of the two fumbles. The Georgia Tech transfer also inadvertently aided the 2-0 Buffaloes with a mental mistake in the final minute of the first half. 

Instead of staying in bounds after running for eight yards on a third-and-17 from NU’s own 30, Sims ran out of bounds, essentially saving the Buffaloes a timeout. Following a 25-yard punt by Brian Buschini, Colorado took possession on its own 37 with 49 seconds remaining before intermission and ended up kicking a field goal. 

But Sims also showed some flash, giving the Huskers hope early in the third quarter. After NU stopped the Colorado offense on its opening drive of the second half, Sims ran through the right side of the Buffs line and raced down the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown that cut CU’s

lead to 13-7. That’s when Colorado got its offense on track, scoring 10 points and taking a 23-7 lead into the fourth quarter. 

Nebraska sputtered through the final 15 minutes as Colorado and quarterback Shedeur Sanders got enough out of CU’s offense for two more touchdowns despite intermittent struggles with their own with penalties. 

After throwing for 134 yards in the first half, Sanders finished the game with 393 yards passing and two touchdowns by completing 31 of 42 passes. 

Sims completed 9 of 15 for 106 yards for Nebraska before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a minor injury. Heinrich Haarberg and Chubba Purdy combined to go 2 of 7 for 13 yards in the final minutes. Nebraska added a TD with one second remaining on a 4-yard TD pass from Haarberg to tight end Thomas Fidone.

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