Trick? Or Treat?
Colorado was 6-0-1 and tied with Nebraska at No. 8 in the Associated Press poll on Halloween in 1992, the Buffaloes’ lone blemish a 24-24 tie with Oklahoma two weeks before.
Colorado had a 25-game unbeaten streak in the Big Eight, its last conference loss at Nebraska in 1988 (7-0). It was 2-0-1 against the Huskers the previous three seasons.
Nebraska was 0-8 against top-10 teams since 1988.
ESPN would televise the game. The Huskers were 2-9-1 in their previous 12 televised games.
Colorado ranked fourth nationally in passing offense, averaging 334 yards.
Thus, the stage was set for the showdown at Memorial Stadium, in the late afternoon, temperature at kickoff 50 degrees, with drizzle and a chance of light rain the forecast.
Just over three hours later, the goal posts would be torn down.
The scoreboard would read: Nebraska 52, Colorado 7.
A main storyline during the week of the game was that freshman quarterback Tommie Frazier would get his second start. Tom Osborne announced that on Monday, after reviewing the Missouri game. Frazier had graded the highest by a starting quarterback that season, 1.92 on a 2.0 scale.
Frazier would be off-limits to reporters during the week, at his request.
He responded, completing 4-of-12 passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception, and rushing for 86 yards on 17 carries.
But the game’s main storyline was the play of the Blackshirts.
The Buffaloes would manage only 136 yards passing and a net of 8 yards rushing, half of what Nebraska offensive guard Will Shields would gain on a “fumbleroosky” to set up Calvin Jones’ third touchdown with 1 second remaining in the first half—following a Travis Hill fumble recovery.
Hill intercepted a Koy Detmer pass on the game’s first play from scrimmage to give Nebraska possession at the Colorado 15. And four plays later, Jones scored from 3 yards out.
Just over a minute in the Huskers led 7-0.
They would never let up.
In addition to stifling Colorado’s passing game, the Blackshirts would intercept two more passes, recover three-of-four fumbles and sack Detmer and Kordell Stewart five times.
For the third consecutive game, Nebraska didn’t turn over the ball.
Steve Carmer’s interception preceded a 24-yard Byron Bennett field goal, and Mike Anderson’s interception set up Frazier’s 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Gerald Armstrong.
Anderson had undergone arthroscopic knee surgery the previous week and just returned to practice on Tuesday. His availability for the game had been uncertain.
Even though he had been bothered by leg problems and had missed practice time during the week, Stewart replaced Detmer following Anderson’s interception.
Senior tackle John Parrella was named Big Eight Defensive Player of the Week. He had eight tackles, three sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, one pass breakup and five quarterback hurries.
Parrella had originally committed to Colorado out of high school in Grand Island (Neb.) but changed when the Buffs pulled the scholarship offer and walked on at Nebraska.
Colorado punted as many times as it picked up first downs, nine. The Huskers’ time of possession was 42:50. That meant Colorado had the ball for just 17 minutes and 10 seconds.
Of the game’s 166 plays, 116 were in Buffs’ territory.
Coach Bill McCartney was gracious in defeat. “We lost to a superior team,” he said according to the Associated Press on the Monday after the game.
And the capacity crowd helped.
“I’ve been in a lot of stadiums, and that’s the loudest one,” he said. “I can never remember in all my years of coaching ever being in a stadium when the crowd was more helpful to their team.”
Some Husker fans apparently were less than cordial in their support however.
Colorado linebacker Chad Brown recalled that his freshman year, after the 7-0 loss to Nebraska in 1988 at Memorial Stadium, the fans were gracious as the Buffs left the field. This time, however, they were anything but gracious, spitting, throwing oranges, and even calling his mom names.
“Maybe they felt that treatment was justified by the way our fans treat them,” he said.
In any case, Nebraska had broken several streaks in winning.
“I don’t know anyone that can hold up to Nebraska with that kind of an offense,” said McCartney.
And, on this particular the day, the Blackshirts, too.
Kansas was up next. And the Jayhawks would find out as well.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.