Colorado–Nebraska football rivalry
|First meeting||November 17, 1898
|Latest meeting||November 26, 2010
|Next meeting||September 8, 2018|
|All-time series||Nebraska leads, 49–18–2|
|Largest victory||Nebraska, 59–0 (1981)|
|Longest win streak||Nebraska, 18 (1968–85)|
|Current win streak||Nebraska, 3 (2008–)|
The Colorado–Nebraska football rivalry was an American college football rivalry between the Colorado Buffaloes and Nebraska Cornhuskers. They first played in 1898, but the rivalry intensified in the 1980s as Colorado improved under head coach Bill McCartney. It was somewhat consolidated with the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, which placed the two universities in the same six-team division and ended Nebraska's annual game with Oklahoma.
The rivalry's intensity was often disputed; Colorado generally viewed Nebraska as its biggest rival, but Nebraska still generally viewed Oklahoma as their historically significant rival, even though they now played the Sooners every other regular season. After the formation of the Big 12, the game was traditionally played on the Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving, nationally televised on ABC. In the Big 8, this time slot was often used for the Nebraska–Oklahoma game. (Oklahoma now plays in-state rival Oklahoma State at the end of the regular season in the Bedlam Series.)
Colorado and Nebraska met six times from 1898 to 1907, then didn't meet again until Colorado joined the Big Seven Conference in 1948. From 1948–61, Colorado went 9–4–1 against Nebraska. After their 7–0 victory in Lincoln in 1961, Colorado gained their only series lead (10–9–1).
With Bob Devaney's arrival in 1962, Nebraska emerged from nearly two decades of mediocrity (and seven straight losing seasons) and returned as a national power in the mid-1960s, followed by national titles in 1970 and 1971. He won his first 5 against Colorado and was 10–1; successor Tom Osborne won his first 13, and went 21–3–1. Nebraska went 40–8–1 against Colorado from 1962–2010.
When Colorado hired Bill McCartney in 1982, he almost immediately designated Nebraska as their primary rival, in an attempt to motivate his team. Nebraska was a perennial powerhouse at the time and had beaten the Buffs 14 straight times; McCartney wanted to use the eventual defeat of Nebraska as a measure of Colorado's success. Four years later in 1986, CU got their first win over the Cornhuskers since 1967, upsetting #3 Nebraska 20–10. It was also the first win over Nebraska at Folsom Field in Boulder since 1960.
Colorado started to repeatedly threaten Nebraska in the late '80s afterwards. In 1989, #3 Nebraska met #2 Colorado at Folsom Field tied for the lead in the Big 8. Colorado won 27–21 on their way to winning their first Big 8 Championship since 1976. #9 Colorado went to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln to play #3 Nebraska for the Big 8 title yet again in 1990. The Buffaloes won 27–12 en route to their first national title. McCartney went 3–9–1 against Nebraska; Rick Neuheisel 0–4, Gary Barnett 3–4, and Dan Hawkins 1–4.
Historically, the series was mostly one-sided, with Nebraska winning nearly three out of every four matchups. However, the last two decades had been very competitive with many matchups decided by a touchdown or less. From 1988 to 1996, both teams were ranked going into the matchup, and in 5 of those meetings both teams were in the top 10 (the 19–19 tie in 1991 was the last recorded by Nebraska). In 1989 and 1994, Colorado and Nebraska met ranked #2 and #3 respectively, and split those games. From 1996 to 2000, Nebraska won all five games by 15 points combined (17–12, 27–24, 16–14, 33–30, 34–32). The 1999 game was decided in overtime, the only such time that has happened in the series to date.
More fire fueled the rivalry in 2001 when #2 Nebraska went into Boulder undefeated. #14 Colorado had one conference loss (41–7 in Austin to then #9 Texas; they went from #14 to #25 afterwards), making this the Big 12 North championship. Colorado shocked the nation by drubbing Nebraska 62–36 and won the Big 12 Championship over #3 Texas the week after, 39–37. Nebraska eventually went to the BCS title game despite the loss, but Colorado was only a point behind Nebraska in the BCS poll.
The decade started with Colorado winning 3 of 4, and ended with Nebraska taking 5 of 6. Starting with Bill McCartney's first game in 1982 through 2010, Nebraska went 21–7–1 against Colorado.
The series was disrupted by the 2010–2014 NCAA conference realignment, when both teams left the Big 12 before the 2011 season. Colorado joined the Pac-12 Conference; Nebraska went to the Big Ten Conference. Both now meet division and border rivals in opposite directions. Nebraska now faces Iowa on the Friday after Thanksgiving; Colorado plays Utah the same day.
It was announced on February 7, 2013 that Colorado and Nebraska agreed to renew the rivalry. Colorado will travel to Lincoln in 2018, then return to Boulder in 2019. After a 3-year break, Nebraska will go to Boulder in 2023 and host Colorado in 2024 to finish the series.
|Colorado victories||Nebraska victories||Ties|
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- "Rivalry reborn: CU Buffs, Nebraska to play 4 times between 2018 and 2024". Daily Camera. 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2013-02-12.