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CU's Brown leaves Huskers black and blue
By Marc Connolly
ABC Sports Online

BOULDER, Colo. -- On the biggest shopping day of the year, Colorado's Chris Brown got the largest gift a third-string running back can ask for going into a team's biggest game of the season: a chance.

Saying he took that chance and ran with it would be one of the great understatements of the zany 2001 college football season. All Brown did was rack up a school-record six touchdowns and 198 yards to send the entire Rocky Mountain region into a tearing-down-goalposts state of euphoria by leading the Buffaloes to a shocking 62-36 victory over BCS No. 1 Nebraska.

Chris Brown
Chris Brown beat Nebraska for 198 yards and 6 TDs.
"Chris was on a roll," said head coach Gary Barnett, who was noticeably overwhelmed with the victory in his postgame press conference. "We've always gone with the hot back, and they couldn't tackle Chris. He was coming out of it and playing like a raged guy out there."

"He had a great game," said senior tackle Victor Rogers. "He was pounding the ball. I'm quite sure Nebraska wasn't ready to see nothing like that."

After starting the first eight games for the Buffs, Brown had a grand total of three rushes for eight yards in the previous three games coming in. So, no, the last thing the Blackshirt D expected to see was a tailback listed third on the depth chart tear them apart for what amounted to the most points any Nebraska defensive unit has ever allowed.

But once starter Cortlen Johnson went down early with a sprained MCL, Brown got his chance to test one of the nation's top defenses. What should have been the ultimate challenge for a running back turned into an unlikely situation that Brown actually dubbed "easy" because of the offensive line's complete domination in the trenches that opened up holes at will.

Not just the type of holes that a back like Marshall Faulk or Emmitt Smith in his glory days would tuck through for the flash it was open to break off on a 20-yard-plus run, but colossal spaces that caused one to look for either numerous flags or trap doors between the hashes of the moist turf at Folsom Field.

"They were huge," said Brown, who added that he wasn't getting hit until the safeties most of the afternoon. "It wasn't even a question of where you're gonna go."

It left Barnett in awe.

"When I stood there on the sideline and watched those guys and the way they were blocking play after play, it was just incredible," he said. "I don't know that I've seen a more dominant performance by a team at CU than that offensive line did."

Rogers and guard Andre Gurode were noticeably paving the way on the left side, manhandling their men from the snap until the play was dead. In fact, when they realized how much space they were creating right off the bat, they pleaded with the coaches to run behind them.

"We noticed that after the first series or so, they weren't coming up the field and we were pushing them off the ball very easily," Rogers said. "So we told the coaches what we liked to run and we were real confident running up the middle."

This led to an astounding 223 rushing yards in the first half alone, led by Bobby Purify's 123 yards and touchdown and Brown's 92 yards and three scores. It only continued in the second half when the Buffaloes rode Brown for 106 yards and another three TDs to hold off a Nebraska squad that cut what was once a 35-3 lead to a mere 12-point gap (42-30) for a moment in the third quarter.

"We were just blowing them off the ball," said Brown, whose TD runs were on jaunts of 12, 1, 36, 1, 13 and 8 yards. "It was like they didn't want it that much."

Well, what's one supposed to think when he's in the end zone six times?

There might have been a fear factor at play, considering that Brown stands at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds.

"I think their safeties were scared to come straight up and tackle me," he said. "After I broke those holes, it felt like they just didn't want to come after me when I was going down the field."

Johnson's injury gave him more playing time, but it was Brown's size and hard-running style that got him into this week's game plan in the first place. The coaching staff told him that he'd be seeing more time this week than he had been seeing since his starting job was taken away after the 41-7 loss to Texas last month because the games "called for their kind of style," according to Barnett.

What also helped him get back onto the gridiron was his attitude. Instead of complaining, he put his nose to the grindstone and made it impossible for him to be ignored in such a huge game.

"Chris was out of rhythm for awhile, but the thing about it is he never complained," said running backs coach and former CU star Eric Bienemy, whose advice was to dust off the cobwebs off and run hard. "He never stuck his head between his legs. The only thing he did was come back to work every single day because he knew he could get the job done."

"He's just hung in there," Barnett said. "And he's a great team player."

Barnett showed the type of faith in him against Nebraska that Brown showed in his coach back when he left Northwestern after the 1998 season. Brown, whose older brother, Levelle, played fullback for the Wildcats, had already committed to play for Northwestern and it was too late to transfer, so he redshirted and transferred to Fort Scott CC so he wouldn't have to miss a season of football.

He finally suited up for Barnett for this first time this fall. And without him, the Buffs surely wouldn't be playing in the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 1 at Texas Stadium in Irving against Oklahoma (barring a loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday), a team they'll utilize Brown and their deep running attack against.

"That's what we're going to do," Barnett said, "and that's sort of our strength."

Marc Connolly is a senior writer for ABC Sports Online. He can be reached at marc.connolly@abc.com.

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Week 14 - A Buffalo Stampede

CU Later Nebraska: Buffs stun No. 2 Huskers 62-36

Connolly: All lost in Lincoln


video
 Colorado's Chris Brown slashes through the defense and goes 36 yards into the end zone (Courtesy:ABC).
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 Colorado's Bobby Purify finds the hole and goes 39 yards for the touchdown (Courtesy:ABC).
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 The Buffaloes' Bobby Pesavento connects with Daniel Graham for six (Courtesy:ABC).
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 Nebraska fakes the end-around, and Dahrran Diedrick goes 32 yards for the TD(Courtesy:ABC).
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 Nebraska's Steve Kriewald bursts through the line and into the end zone (Courtesy:ABC).
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 Watch all six of Chris Brown's touchdowns (Courtesy:ABC).
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