Big 12: Patrick Mahnke
Arnaud was also hurt on the play, and was replaced by sophomore backup Jerome Tiller.
So, here we are again. Last week, the Buffaloes blew a 28-point lead to Kansas in just over 11 minutes that cost them the game and eventually Dan Hawkins his job.
The odds were probably against Colorado ever leading by four touchdowns again this season but they've done it, and against a team that's much more capable than Kansas.
Let's see how they handle the game's final quarter this time around.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|AP Photo/Dave Weaver|
|Ndamukong Suh's interception return for a touchdown sealed Nebraska's victory.|
Henery and Suh make Colorado blue
Date: Nov. 28, 2008
Place: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Score: Nebraska 40, Colorado 31
Nebraska was playing merely to better its bowl position. Colorado wanted to earn a bowl trip. Although the Big 12 North championship game berth wasn't being settled, it still didn't diminish the excitement of last year's game between the two traditional rivals.
Colorado came into the game as an 18-point underdog, but you couldn't tell from the way the Buffaloes scrapped. The Buffaloes produced a couple of big plays -- a 68-yard touchdown pass from Cody Hawkins to Riar Geer and a 36-yard touchdown run by Demetrius Sumler -- in the first five minutes to jump to a quick 14-0 lead.
The Buffaloes' defense allowed the Cornhuskers to advance inside the Colorado 50 on every possession in the game. But a botched fake field goal led to a 24-24 halftime tie when Colorado's Jimmy Smith snatched an errant blind pitch from Jake Wesch and ran 58 yards for a touchdown.
The Buffaloes' defense kept the game within reach in the second half as Nebraska drove inside the Buffaloes' 33-yard line on each of its four possessions but came away with only nine points. Colorado went ahead 31-27 when Sumler knocked in a 4-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Colorado's defense made that stand for most of the rest of the game. Nebraska pulled within 31-30 when Alex Henery nailed a 37-yard field goal with 8:09 left.
After Nebraska got the ball back, the Cornhuskers were poised to score again after Roy Helu Jr. rambled 25 yards to the Colorado 25 with less than two minutes remaining. But Colorado safety Patrick Mahnke sacked Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz for a 15-yard loss and Ganz threw incomplete on third down, setting up an improbable 57-yard field goal attempt by Henery.
Henery, with a 5 mph wind to his back, blasted the ball through the goal posts with 1:43 left to set the school record and provide Nebraska with a 33-31 lead.
But the Cornhuskers were only getting started. After picking up a first down on the Colorado 33, Hawkins' second-down pass was tipped by Zach Potter and intercepted by massive 305-pound defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
En route to the end zone, Suh eluded a diving Hawkins and scampered 30 yards for the clinching touchdown. It was Suh's second interception return for a touchdown on the season and his third touchdown overall.
The numbers: Nebraska ran 29 more plays than Colorado and the Cornhuskers' 63 snaps in Colorado territory were 15 more than Colorado ran in the entire game. Colorado went more than 10 minutes of game time in the second and third quarters without running an offensive play. Helu rushed for 166 yards and Ganz passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the top single-season passer in Nebraska history.
They said it, part I: "I love games like this. The crazier the better. I just wish we had ended it a little bit earlier," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, reflecting on the wild finish with reporters after the game.
They said it, part II: "I don't remember watching it go through at all. I was pretty sure I made it. It was on target. I don't remember much after hitting it." Henery's thoughts after the game-winning kick to reporters after the game.
They said it, part III: "It doesn't surprise me. That guy's a stud," Pelini on Henery's kick.
They said it, part IV: ""He thinks he's Walter Payton." Pelini's comments to the Nebraska State Paper about Suh's game-clinching touchdown return.
The upshot: The victory, combined with Kansas' upset of Missouri the following day, gave the Cornhuskers a share of the Big 12 North title. The Tigers advanced to the championship game after a head-to-head triumph over the Cornhuskers earlier in the season.
But it really didn't matter after the Cornhuskers earned a Gator Bowl berth. They went on to upset Clemson to finish 9-4 for the season. After losing four of six games midway through the season, Nebraska finished with three straight victories to prime enthusiasm after Pelini's first season.
The loss cost Colorado a shot at making a bowl trip. The Buffaloes finished at 5-7, missing a bowl trip for the second time in three seasons under coach Dan Hawkins.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some trends I'm watching for this weekend in Big 12 games:
1. The Big 12 South race -- The tightest Big 12 divisional race in history is playing out as Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma enter the final week of the season tied for first place in the South Division. If all three win, it will send league officials scurrying to the Bowl Championship Series standings to determine who will meet Missouri in the Big 12 Championship Game next week. In case of a two-way tie, Texas Tech holds the tiebreaker over Texas, Texas holds the edge over Oklahoma and the Sooners would advance if tied with Texas Tech. It will make the fine art of earning style points very important in all games this weekend for the three South challengers.
2. The Heisman race heats up -- Texas' Colt McCoy, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell are involved in a similarly tight battle for the Heisman. Most voters are expected to hold onto their votes until after next week's championship game, providing an edge for the quarterback that finishes with the biggest late-season performances. All of them have that chance heading into this week's games.
3. Texas' revitalized strength in the trenches -- Texas players were humiliated after they were whipped inside in embarrassing losses to Texas A&M in the last two seasons. It's given them a chip on their shoulders as they prepare for Thursday's game in Austin. Texas coaches pushed the Longhorns through rougher practices leading up to the A&M game, hoping that the harder work would toughen them for an inexperienced Aggie team that doesn't appear to have the interior strength this season as some of former coach Dennis Franchione's previous squads.
4. Stephen McGee's last hurrah -- McGee earned a place in Aggie lore by directing two dramatic victories over the Longhorns in the last two seasons. He's lost his starting place after injuring his shoulder earlier this season, giving way to record-breaking sophomore Jerrod Johnson. Would A&M coach Mike Sherman consider giving McGee a chance to play in a tight game because of his previous success over the Longhorns? It will be interesting if McGee will get to play in what will be the last game of his college career with the Aggies.
5. Can the Sooners play any better? -- Oklahoma produced one of the most complete games of coach Bob Stoops' tenure with an impressive 65-21 drubbing of Texas Tech that resuscitated the Sooners' national title hopes. The Sooners notched an impressive beatdown over Texas Tech, cruising to a 42-7 halftime advantage in a game that was over early. Can they duplicate that emotion in what should be a tough battle against old foe Oklahoma State on the road? Oklahoma's Big 12 title hopes and chances to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game will be riding on it.
6. Kendall Hunter's gimpy quadriceps muscle -- The Big 12's leading rusher was injured midway through Oklahoma State's victory over Colorado two weeks ago. Coach Mike Gundy expects Hunter to be ready to play Saturday against Oklahoma. If Hunter isn't 100 percent, it will be much more difficult for the Cowboys to spring a home upset. And it would also mean more work for backup Keith Toston and place more demands on other phases of the Cowboys' balanced offensive attack.
7. Any hangover for the Red Raiders? -- Texas Tech's national title hopes were quashed by their humiliating loss, a performance where they allowed more points than in any game in school history. The Red Raiders still have legitimate hopes to rebound and claim their first berth in a Big 12 Championship Game if they can beat Baylor and other variables work in their favor. But they won't have any hopes unless they blot those bad Norman memories very quickly in Harrell's last home game.
8. Art Briles' return to Lubbock -- The Baylor coach is a Texas Tech graduate, was an original member of Mike Leach's staff and still has many friends and family members in the area. Despite that association, Briles would like nothing better than to unleash freshman quarterback Robert Griffin on his old team and hope he ends their Big 12 title game hopes in the process.
9. Not much national buzz at Arrowhead Stadium this time for Missouri-Kansas -- The rest of the country is greeting Kansas-Missouri this season with a collective yawn.
The Tigers have already wrapped up the North Division title. But it won't matter in this blood feud between these two bitter rivals. Chase Daniel will be gunning to make history as he attempts to beat the Jayhawks for the third straight time. Kansas coach Mark Mangino just hopes his defense will show up after being toasted for 209 points in its last five games. Missouri's high-powered offensive attack will provide a huge challenge for the struggling Jayhawks, who are headed for back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history.
10. Bowl hopes in Lincoln -- Surging Nebraska can take a big step to earning a New Year's Day bowl game by beating Colorado. Underrated Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz will be putting the finishing touches on one of the top statistical seasons in school history. He'll be facing an injury-depleted Colorado secondary that likely will be starting freshmen safeties Anthony Perkins and Patrick Mahnke against him. That group needs a big performance as the Buffaloes must win in order to become bowl eligible.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few tidbits from around the Big 12 heading into this week's games.
1. The Big 12's most stable coaching staff might be set for a shakeup after the season. Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen is in the mix for openings at New Mexico and Wyoming, and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is being considered for the vacant head job at Toledo. If either leave, they could become the first assistants from Gary Pinkel's staff to leave for another job. That stability has been an underrated facet in the Tigers' development into the North's strongest current program -- particularly in terms of recruiting two-star and three-star recruits in Texas who have blossomed into key contributors once they arrived in Columbia. A staff change would put Pinkel in the unfamiliar position of having to hire a new assistant for the first time since he arrived at Missouri in 2001.
2. Despite struggles in a disappointing 2-10 season, Iowa State coach Gene Chizik doesn't expect to go through heavy use of junior-college players to restock his program. Chizik said that "a couple" of junior-college players could be brought in to help the Cyclones at specific areas of need, but he doubted he would make a heavy push because those players would be around the program for only two seasons. Chizik still remains committed to using arriving high school talent as the backbone in his rebuilding job with the Cyclones.
3. Expect Oklahoma State to try to emphasize a more balanced approach in Saturday's game against Oklahoma than last season. The Cowboys have been working on play-action passing after throwing for only 104 yards last year against the Sooners -- the lowest in a Big 12 game in Mike Gundy's coaching tenure. The Cowboys hope to get tight end Brandon Pettigrew more involved Saturday after he was held without a catch last season by the Sooners. And the passing game should clearly benefit from the return of running back Kendall Hunter, who should be ready to go after nursing a quadriceps injury that occurred in the Cowboys' last game against Colorado.
4. Colorado's banged-up secondary will be at a big disadvantage Friday against Nebraska with senior starting strong safety D.J. Dykes out and starting free safety Ryan Walters' status still uncertain. It could mean a pair of freshmen will be starting against the high-powered Nebraska passing attack -- Anthony Perkins at strong safety and Patrick Mahnke at free safety. Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz has to be salivating, considering he blistered the Buffaloes for 484 passing yards, 521 yards of total offense and four touchdown passes last season when the Buffaloes' secondary was a lot healthier.
5. Texas coaches have been disappointed in the last two seasons because their team wasn't as physical as A&M, losing the game in the trenches both seasons. It's led to a change in Texas' practices leading up to the Texas A&M game for the Longhorns. The Longhorns still should have the edge, considering that Texas A&M's offense isn't nearly as ground-oriented with Jerrod Johnson playing quarterback and with a young offensive line developing as it grows.