Friday, November 28, 2008
Halftime: Colorado 24, Nebraska 24
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Bo Pelini was getting a lot of attention before the season as a potential Big 12 Coach of the Year for his late turnaround with Nebraska this season.
Pelini better bury the tape of the first half if he wants to be considered after Friday.
Colorado erupted for three big scoring plays. On all of them, the Cornhuskers looked ill-prepared.
The most telling was Jimmy Smith's 58-yard fumble recovery that pulled the Buffaloes into a 24-24 deadlock at the break. On the play, Smith perfectly read a blind pitch from holder Jake Wesch to kicker Alex Henery. Smith jumped in the middle of the play, snatched the ball away and raced untouched for the touchdown after Henery moved too early.
It was a 10-point turnaround that left Pelini making his feelings known along the sidelines.
Earlier, Colorado gashed the Cornhuskers for two long touchdowns on the first four plays that staked them to a 14-0 lead.
So much for soothing instruction along the sidelines. Pelini's fire-and-brimstone orations seemed to charge the Cornhuskers as they charged back for 17 unanswered points to reclaim the lead.
It looks to me that Nebraska responds better to Pelini's anger than any reassuring words. He'll probably have a bunch more for them when they get back to the locker room for the break.
Here are some other things I've noticed in the first half.
- Colorado badly mismanaged the final seconds of the clock in the first half. The Buffaloes had forced a fourth down with about 15 seconds left. Rather than taking a timeout and forcing a punt after a Nebraska play, they enabled the Cornhuskers to line up for a final shot at the end zone. A better course of action would have been to force a punt, where scintillating Colorado punt returner Josh Smith could have had a shot at a big play before the break.
- Joe Ganz and Roy Helu have been the two most effective offensive players in the game. Their success is the major reason the Cornhuskers have an edge in time of possession of 13:24 in the first half.
- I'm amazed at the shoddy technique early in the game in the Nebraska secondary. Riar Geer sailed down the middle untouched for a 68-yard touchdown grab. And Demetrius Sumler's touchdown almost looked the first time the Cornhuskers had seen a misdirection play.
- It doesn't seem to matter who is playing quarterback for Colorado. Both Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen both have had their moments. Hawkins has looked sharper passing and Hansen has been stronger running the option. It's been a good combination.
- Want to know a scary sight? How about being a 180-pound defensive back like Colorado's Cha'pelle Brown and see a 305-pound fullback like Ndamukong Suh barreling towards you?
- Slump-ridden Aric Goodman drilled a season-best 38-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Before that kick, the Buffaloes had converted only 5 of 16 field goals. It was a big difference from earlier in his career at Wyoming. While kicking there, Goodman drilled a 52-yarder for his career best.