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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Birth of a Rivalry - Part VII

Today the series continues with a look at one of the most highly anticipated matchups between Nebraska and Colorado as the rivalry continues to intensify.
Coming off an emotional Orange Bowl effort that fell just short, Nebraska entered the 1994 season ranked 4th. The Huskers began their season early in the Kickoff Classic versus #24 West Virginia, where Nebraska was victorious 31-0. Big Red then cruised to victories over non-conference foes Texas Tech, #13 UCLA, and Pacific. Following the Pacific game Tommie Frazier was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg. With backup Brook Berringer forced into action Nebraska defeated Wyoming 42-32. The Huskers then kicked off their Big 8 slate ranked #2 against Oklahoma State. Berringer had suffered a collapsed lung versus Wyoming, but would make the start against the Cowboys. He later re-collapsed his lung forcing third-string walkon Matt Turman to help guide the Huskers to a 32-3 win over OSU. The next week Nebraska went on the road to face #11 Kansas State with Turman as the starter. With Lawrence Phillips carrying the load the Huskers escaped Manhattan with a 17-6 win. The following week Berringer returned to guide Nebraska to a 42-7 win over Missouri. The third ranked Huskers were now ready for a showdown with the Buffs.

Colorado entered the year ranked #8 behind a high powered offense led by Kordell Stewart, Rashaan Salaam and Michael Westbrook. The Buffaloes began the season with blowout wins over NE Louisiana and 10th ranked Wisconsin. In week three they traveled to Ann Arbor to square off with #4 Michigan. The hard fought game came down to the final play, when Kordell Stewart completed a last second, 64-yard Hail Mary to Westbrook to defeat the Wolverines in the Big House. The next week the Buffs overpowered Texas 34-31 in Austin. Colorado then opened Big 8 play with wins over Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas State to set up the highly anticipated match up with the Huskers.

The two teams came into the game with the exact same rankings as they had in 1989, as Colorado was #2 and Nebraska was #3 nationally. The game also marked the 200th consecutive Memorial Stadium sellout, and the home fans would not be disappointed. Nebraska scored on their opening drive which was capped by a 14-yard run by fullback Cory Schlesinger. In the second quarter the Huskers added a 24-yard field goal by Tom Sieler and a 2-yard TD run by Clinton Childs. Their efficient offense and stingy defense propelled Nebraska to a 17-0 halftime lead. Statistically the Huskers dominated the Buffaloes in the first half outrushing them 234 to 89. Brook Berringer also out passed his counterpart Kordell Stewart 100 yards to 7.

In the third quarter Berringer connected with tight end Eric Alford for a pretty 30-yard touchdown to conclude Nebraska’s scoring. Colorado finally managed to get on the scoreboard on a Rashaan Salaam 6-yard run with 1:06 left in the third quarter. Following a scoreless fourth quarter Nebraska walked off the field with an impressive 24-7 win, which would propel them to the number one ranking.

Individual Statistics

Colorado - Salaam 22-134, Stewart 14-24, Troutman 1-(minus 3). Nebraska - Phillips 24-103, Schlesinger 8-65, Makovicka 3-32, Benninger 8-2, Childs 5-14, Benning 3-1, Muhammad 1-1, team 1-(minus 15).

Colorado - Stewart 12-28-0-150, Detmer 1-2-0-9. Nebraska - Berringer 12-17-1-142.

Colorado - Westbrook 6-80, Lepsis 2-18, Carruth 2-28, Salaam 2-24, Savoy 1-9. Nebraska - Alford 5-78, Gillman 4-46, Muhammad 2-14, Phillips 1-4.

After falling to the Huskers the Buffaloes would finish their Big 8 conference run with wins over Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State. After rushing for over 2000 yards in the regular season, Rashaan Salaam became the first player from the University of Colorado to win the Heisman Trophy. Colorado later accepted an invitation to play in the Fiesta Bowl, where they met unranked Notre Dame. The Buffaloes would defeat the Irish 41-24.

Fresh off the victory over CU, #1 Nebraska closed out its regular season with wins over Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma. The Huskers then focused on its next challenge, which was facing 3rd ranked Miami in the Orange Bowl. Nebraska would go on to beat the Hurricanes in dramatic fashion giving Tom Osborne his first national title. Zach Wiegert would be named the Outland Award winner for his efforts on the year. In addition, sophomore Lawrence Phillips finished 8th in the Heisman balloting, while Wiegert finished tenth.

You can check all of the highlights from Nebraska's 1994 Championship season below.