Lots on the line for NU and CU...no, really

Hawkins' retainment prove Buffs are back

It's the regular-season finale' against the Colorado Buffaloes. Yeah, doesn't quite have a kick to it when you say it, does it? But believe it or not, there are a number of reasons this game is important to both teams, even though it's technically one step closer to Dallas for the Big Red and one step closer to the ski lodge for the other guys.

Colorado vs. Nebraska

There was a time, albeit a brief one, where this game actually meant something.

Following the break up of the annual Oklahoma/Nebraska match up due to the creation of the Big 12, this became the regular-season finale.

And it wasn't without its share of drama.

In 1997, when Nebraska was rolling its way to its third national title in four years, an unranked Colorado team gave Nebraska all it could handle and then some, narrowly losing the contest in Boulder, 27-24.

Then in 1998, Colorado went to Lincoln, once again unranked, once again facing a ranked Husker team and yes, once again almost pulled off the upset, going down, 16-14.

In 1999, yep, more of the same; Nebraska ranked in the top five, Colorado not ranked at all and it took overtime for the Huskers to come out victorious on the road, escaping with a 33-30 win.

Then in 2000, the Huskers were ranked in the top 10 and as usual, the Buffs weren't ranked at all. But CU managed to almost steal the victory here as well, losing 34-32 when it was all said and done.

Ironically, it was arguably Nebraska's best team since former Head Coach Tom Osborne retired that Colorado beat the most soundly, the Huskers' 2001 squad going into Boulder undefeated and

Sandra Bernhard, WITH make up

coming out with a 62-36 loss, then the worst loss in the history of the Husker football program.

The Buffaloes thought so much of the win, they actually etched the score into their North-Division Title rings, a title which they shared with the Big Red.

After that point, there were some fairly close games, but nothing like the previous five years. Most of the ho-hum demeanor toward this contest has been due to the fact that neither team was ranked when they faced the other or Nebraska was ranked, but barely.

And with this game being technically irrelevant for Nebraska, already having secured a spot in the Big 12 title game and Colorado, already having said that they will have at least one more year of mediocrity under Head Coach Dan Hawkins, this contest is about as attractive as Sandra Bernhard, sans-make up.

But winning this game does have some meaning to both, even if it doesn't hurt or help their overall standing in the grand scheme of things.

For Nebraska, a win takes them to 9-3 on the season, bettering last year's regular-season record by one. It puts them in position to have double-digit wins this year, which if they accomplished the feat, they would have the most wins in a season since the 2001 run that ended in the national championship game.

For Colorado, it could be a potential springboard into next season. You know, the same kind of springboard it was when they beat Nebraska 65-51 in 2007 and took the momentum of that huge win and lost to Alabama in the Independence Bowl, which was followed by an impressive two-win season in conference play as the Buffs finished the following year, 5-7 overall.

Dan Hawkins wondering
how he has a job? We are too.

For Nebraska, a win could maintain the momentum from the four straight wins as they get ready to face the top-five Texas Longhorns. Considering how that game is expected to go, Nebraska could use all the help they can get.

For Colorado, a win could help them sell more season tickets for next season, which might allow them to buy out Hawkins' contract next time around, something they seem apparently unable to do right now, or how else could you justify bringing a coach back with a losing record each of his four years at the helm.

For Nebraska, this game offers the opportunity to go against a game-if-not-great Colorado defense, to try and figure out and work out some kinks in the offensive progression, which really has been more offensive in the figurative sense, because its progression has been slow to non-existent.

For Colorado, this is a chance to unveil and work on another 15 trick plays, which will no doubt come in handy as they try and get that program-making win over Colorado State next year, something they couldn't manage to do this season.

For Nebraska, this is a chance to stay in the hearts and minds of bowl reps as they will vie for a shot at the Holiday Bowl or at worst, the Cotton. Another nine-win season, along with having one of the best defenses in the country and the best defensive player, could go a long ways to doing just that.

For Colorado, this is another chance for the students at CU and the Colorado fan base as a whole, to prove that they are amongst the vilest in all of college football. As you may recall in that 2005 game, an entire section of students had to be cleared after they refused to stop throwing stuff onto the field.

CU students keeping
tradition alive

So, you see that there is clearly a lot riding on the line for both programs. For the Huskers it's about continuing the momentum built since the day Head Coach Bo Pelini arrived, the second-year man taking a team with a losing record to a win in the Gator Bowl and nine wins his first season, and now to another bowl, along with an appearance in the Big 12 title game.

For Colorado, this is a welcome opportunity to take advantage of that 207 percent increase in snow pack around the region, which is a marked improvement from the dismal snow-season of 2008.

Snowboard or skis? Snowboard or skis?

Man, I hate tough decisions.

So, don't call this an irrelevant game or one that doesn't offer great payoffs for both programs. This is a classic in the making, to be honest. Nope, technically, Nebraska could lose, and in the grand picture of where they could play in the post season, it might not mean a thing.

But despite the fact that Coach Hawkins, in all of his ignorance, has tried to diffuse a rivalry built on as much hatred as OU/UT ever saw, neither program wants to lose to the other.

There's nothing sexy about it, but hey, if Sandra Bernhard can get in Playboy (I know you just ate…sue me), this game can mean something, even if we have to reach like hell to figure out just what that meaning is.

 

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