ESPN, like The Athletic, credits Colorado for some of Nebraska’s downfall

·3 min read

The Colorado Buffaloes may have started the downfall of Nebraska football, at least according to ESPN.

After the Week 0 shocker in which underdog Northwestern stunned Nebraska, Scott Frost’s seat has reached a scalding temperature. Even our friends at Huskers Wire have had enough.

I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret about college sports and sports in general. I believe that people secretly, and maybe subconsciously, cheer for their rivals. Not outright screaming at the TV “let’s go rival,” but you want their program to stay strong because when you eventually play them, it makes beating them much sweeter. Much like…

ESPN put together its 10 games that explain the Cornhuskers’ tailspin, and right at the top of their list was the 62-36 thrashing of the corn by Chris Brown and Colorado in 2001. The Athletic also recently highlighted that glorious win as one of college football’s most-defining games of the 2000s.

Here is what ESPN’s Bill Connelly had to say:

Nebraska won three national titles in four seasons, and after Osborne rode off into the sunset in 1997, longtime assistant Frank Solich mostly maintained a high level. The Huskers briefly ceded the Big 12 North to Kansas State in 1998, losing to the Wildcats and dropping three other games by a total of 14 points. But they stormed back, winning 34 of their next 37 games. Quarterback Eric Crouch danced his way to a Heisman run in 2001, and the Huskers began that season 11-0. They were second in the AP poll behind only an incredible Miami team that they would eventually lose to in the BCS Championship. They were no longer the most dominant team in the sport, but there are worse things in the world than three straight top-10 finishes.

Before the Huskers could get bopped around by Miami, however, they suffered a genuine paradigm shift of a loss in Boulder. The 14th-ranked Buffaloes bolted to a 28-3 lead in the first quarter, and while Crouch would drag the Huskers back to within 42-30 in the third, the NU defense couldn’t help but get shoved around. Colorado’s Chris Brown and Bobby Purify combined for 352 rushing yards and seven touchdowns (six from Brown) — something that was supposed to be done by Nebraska, not to Nebraska. Colorado upset Texas the next week, too, and nearly leaped all the way into the BCS top two despite two losses. Instead, Nebraska sneaked back into the top two and got manhandled by Miami, just as Colorado would have.

If one game can destroy an aura, this game did it. Without Crouch, the Huskers went just 7-7 in 2002, losing three games by at least 22 points (including a 36-14 decision at once-lowly Iowa State), forcing changes within the program and putting Solich on the hot seat.

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Story originally appeared on Buffaloes Wire