Huskers Stampede Buffs in Regular-Season Finale

Boulder, Colo. - Fueled by 30 unanswered points, the second-best passing day in school history and a near-shutout performance from a Blackshirt defense that did not surrender a point in the final 12 drives of the game, Nebraska handed Colorado its first home loss of the season with a dominating 30-3 victory at Folsom Field Friday.

Nebraska improved to 7-4 on the season with the win and evened its Big 12 Conference record at 4-4. The 27-point victory was the largest margin of victory in the storied history between Nebraska and Colorado since the Huskers defeated the Buffaloes, 52-7, at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 31, 1992.

Colorado, which would have claimed the Big 12 North Division title and a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game with a victory, fell to 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the league.

Nebraska junior quarterback Zac Taylor produced one of the most brilliant passing days in school history, completing 27-of-43 passes for 392 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor's yardage total ranked as the second-best total in school history, just 39 yards shy of his own school record set against Iowa State on Oct. 1 at Memorial Stadium. Taylor's big day helped lead Nebraska to 497 yards of total offense, while the Blackshirts held Colorado to just 212 total yards.

Taylor's top target on the day was senior I-back Cory Ross, a Denver native. Ross caught a running back school-record nine passes for 129 yards and one touchdown. Although Ross led the team in receptions, Taylor distributed the ball effectively throughout the lineup, as seven Husker receivers caught at least one pass on the afternoon.

Taylor's efficiency combined with an effective use of the running game led Nebraska to a lopsided advantage in plays and time of possession. The Huskers ran 90 total plays - including 30 on their final two drives - and controlled the clock for more than 38 minutes, while the Buffs had the ball for just 21:57 and ran only 60 plays.

The Blackshirts surrendered 89 yards on the Buffaloes' first two drives that led to a field goal and a missed field goal. After CU's two drives to open the game, the Buffaloes managed just 54 yards on 39 plays over a stretch of 10 possessions, before CU drove 57 yards on 11 plays at the end of the game.

Nebraska built a 20-3 halftime advantage, racking up 303 yards of total offense, while CU managed just 124. Taylor completed 15-of-26 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown in the first hals, as the Husker offense scored on each of its four trips inside the Colorado red zone.

Taylor's play-making was strong throughout the first half, as Nebraska kept several scoring drives alive by converting on 5-of-10 third downs. CU was 0-of-6 on third-down conversions in the opening half.

After the Husker offense was held to a three-and-out on its first series of the game, senior Sam Koch, who average 54.8 yards per punt, boomed a 56-yard punt that sailed out of bounds at the CU 31. After Koch's effort, CU running back Hugh Charles raced 45 yards to the NU 24 on Colorado's first offensive play.  The Blackshirts stiffened, holding CU to a 33-yard field goal from Mason Crosby that gave the Buffaloes an early 3-0 lead.

The Huskers answered on their ensuing drive, sparked by a key third-down conversion. On third and five from the NU 25, Taylor connected with Ross for a 15-yard gain to keep the drive alive. The conversion energized the Husker offense and on the next play, Taylor found redshirt freshman Nate Swift for a 33-yard gain to the Buffalo 25-yard line.

Freshman Jordan Congdon capped the drive when he nailed a 26-yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 3-3 with 8:06 remaining in the first period.

Nebraska's defense held Colorado off the scoreboard on the Buffaloes' second drive of the game and NU benefited from excellent field position after Crosby missed a 57-yard field goal attempt that gave the Huskers the ball at their own 40. Taylor connected with sophomore Terrence Nunn on another third-down completion for a 10-yard pickup to the CU 43, but Nebraska was unable to move any further and Koch's punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback.

The Blackshirts forced a three-and-out on the next series and NU took over at its own 46 following a 15-yard face mask penalty that was tacked on to the end of Cortney Grixby's 12-yard punt return. Taylor completed his fifth consecutive pass to Swift for a 15-yard gain to the CU 37 on the final play of the first quarter.

After the break, Taylor found Ross on a short pass that the senior back turned into a touchdown by sprinting untouched into the end zone to give Nebraska its first lead of the game at 10-3.

The Blackshirts held the Buffs to another three-and-out on the next series, highlighted by a nine-yard sack from senior Titus Adams and junior Jay Moore on second down and a tackle-for-loss by junior Adam Carriker on third down to force a punt. Kicking from his own end zone, Torp got the benefit of a good bounce on his 54-yard punt that gave the Huskers possession at their own 38.

A 15-yard penalty on CU's Alex Ligon gave NU a first down at the CU 47 on its next drive. Taylor then fired a strike to a wide open Todd Peterson for a gain of 38 yards down to the CU 9. Glenn then rushed up the middle for nine yards to the one and took the next carry into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the season.

CU took over on its own 14 following the kickoff, but a 12-yard sack from freshman Barry Cryer backed the Buffaloes into a third-and-19 hole from their own 4. Torp came on to punt after the Blackshirts held Colorado to its third consecutive three-and-out series and booted the ball to the NU 35, but NU took over at midfield following a 15-yard penalty on the Buffaloes.

On the next play, Ross took a pitch from Taylor, which he pitched back to Taylor. With no one open downfield, Taylor tossed it back to Ross in the flat, who raced down the sidelines for a 25-yard gain to the CU 25. Nebraska then found itself in a second-and-28 situation, but Taylor was unfazed and found junior Frantz Hardy for a gain of 35 yards inside the Buffs' 10. After a holding penalty wiped out an apparent touchdown pass to Peterson, Congdon nailed a 30-yard field goal to increase the Huskers' lead to 20-3 with 4:44 remaining in the first half.

Colorado was able to pick up a first down on its next drive, but the Blackshirts recovered to force a punt that sailed 50 yards before Grixby returned it 11 yards to set NU up at its own 23.

Nebraska picked up a third and inches with a Taylor quarterback sneak on its next drive before three consecutive incompletions forced an NU punt with 1:26 left in the half. Koch came on to punt and unleashed a 63-yard punt out of the CU end zone for a touchback. A completion and a pass-interference penalty gave CU a chance to score before the half, but a Klatt pass was intercepted by NU's Adam Ickes that set the Huskers up at the CU 49 with 53 seconds remaining in the period.

With 10 seconds remaining, Taylor found junior Grant Mulkey for a 34-yard gain inside the CU 5 with two seconds left on the clock. With the clocked stopped after the first down, NU was set waiting for the official's whistle to spike the ball and set up a field goal, but the officials ruled the Huskers did not spike the ball before the clock ran out, so the Huskers' took a 20-3 lead into the break.

Neither team managed to do much on their first drives of the second half, but Colorado began its second possession on its own 46 after the Husker offense was backed up inside its own 5 and Koch boomed a 61-yard punt out of his own end zone. The Buffs could not convert with the good field position.

NU began its next drive at its own 24 and moved the ball to the CU 48 on a 26-yard pass from Taylor to Ross. Taylor teamed up with Nunn for a 10-yard gain on third-and-nine and added 15 more yards after Colorado was flagged for a late hit to move the ball to the 21. Following a Nebraska timeout, Taylor found Swift with a 21-yard touchdown strike to push the Huskers' lead to 27-3 with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter.

Colorado, aided by a long kickoff return, advanced the ball past midfield on its next drive but a pair of incompletions and a sack by senior LeKevin Smith forced another Torp punt, which was downed at the NU 10.

NU moved the ball to the 39 when Taylor found Peterson and Ross for consecutive first-down passes, before the Huskers were forced to punt. Koch boomed another excellent punt, this one for 50 yards as CU took over on its own 31.

Nebraska got the ball back on its own five and drove 84 yards on 20 plays while taking 6:48 off the clock, stretching over the third and fourth quarter. The drive ended when Congdon missed a field goal, the freshman's first miss in has last 11 attempts after his 28-yard kick sailed wide right. 

Congdon redeemed himself on the Huskers' next drive, as true freshman Harrison Beck led the offense into field-goal range, where Congdon's 32-yard kick tied Kris Brown's single-season school record of 18 field goals.

For the game, Swift joined Ross with a big game receiving of his own. Swift made four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Marlon Lucky rushed 10 times for 33 yards to pace the Huskers on the ground, which rung up 105 yards against the nation's top-ranked run defense.

Defensively, Nebraska harrased Klatt into a 20-for-40 day and only 159 yards. The Blackshirts also recorded four sacks and surrendered just 53 yards on the ground. Ickes, Bo Ruud and Daniel Bullocks each made six tackles for NU.

With the regular season complete, Nebraska will await word on which bowl game it will head to this season. The Huskers' bowl trip will be the 36th bowl game in the last 37 seasons.