Friday, December 13, 2002
No. 8 Nebraska 34, Colorado 32
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nobody is doubting Nebraska kicker Josh Brown this weekend -- not even Brown himself.
Brown kept Nebraska's slim Bowl Championship Series hopes alive Saturday, kicking a 29-yard field goal as time expired the Cornhuskers (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) a 34-32 victory over Colorado.
"This is what you dream about," Brown said.
Brown's kick capped a drive that started at the Nebraska 41 with 44 seconds left after Colorado had taken the lead with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion.
Brown was just 3-for-7 coming into the game and had missed an attempt two weeks before in a one-point loss at Kansas State. But he was poised on the final play, driving the ball straight between the uprights.
"This is definitely a redemption for me," Brown said. "I was actually thinking 'Don't yank it -- please don't yank it."
Eric Crouch led Nebraska, rushing for 125 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. He did not have a great day passing, finishing 11-for-17 for 139 yards, but he was nearly perfect in the final drive, going 3-of-4. Crouch's 17-yard sideline pass to Bobby Newcombe with less than 10 seconds left set up Brown's field goal.
"We do this every week in practice," Crouch said. "You've got to believe in yourself. Otherwise, you'd just as well sit on the bench."
Colorado looked like it was headed for an upset victory after Craig Ochs' touchdown pass and 2-point conversion put the Buffaloes ahead 32-31 with 47 seconds left.
After the kickoff, the Huskers only had 44 seconds.
"There wasn't a guy out there who lost his composure or was rattled and didn't think we could win that football game," coach Frank Solich said.
Nebraska (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) has won nine straight over Colorado, but the last five have been by a total of 15 points. The Huskers, who needed overtime to beat the Buffaloes 33-30 last year, are done until their bowl game, which probably won't be determined until next weekend.
With nine wins, the Huskers are eligible for a BCS at-large berth, but were not impressive Saturday until their final drive. Nebraska fumbled four times, losing three, had two kickoffs go out of bounds, a punt blocked, botched a punt return when the ball bounced off a blocker's helmet, and missed a field goal.
Nebraska only kept Colorado from scoring once in the second half, and that was by blocking a field goal.
Colorado (3-8, 3-5) ended a disappointing season with an even more disappointing loss. After Brown's kick, several Buffaloes were face down on the artificial turf as the Cornhuskers swarmed Brown.
"This was not a moral victory," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "That was last year. We just came up short. That's all."
Cortlen Johnson led the Buffaloes with 155 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns. Ochs completed 25-of-41 for 254 yards. His 15-yard pass to John Minardi brought the Buffaloes within a point.
Barnett called a timeout and his whole team huddled on the sideline, where Barnett told the Buffaloes they were going for the win, not a tie.
"It did not take me an instant to decide," Barnett said.
Bochs rolled to his right and hit Javon Green for the conversion.
"There was only 44 seconds left. I thought we would win," Green said. "We beat them today. We beat them physically and we beat them statistically. Yet every time they pull a trick from up their sleeve and win."
Crouch gave the Huskers a 31-24 lead on a 26-yard TD run with 5:20 left to play, after having scored earlier on runs of 27 and 2 yards. The Huskers had tied it at 24 earlier in the quarter on Brown's 20-yard field goal.
Johnson put Colorado up 24-21 with a 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Colorado took a 17-14 lead on Johnson's 2-yard run with 9:57 left in the third quarter. The Buffaloes had recovered a bad pitch by Crouch, Nebraska's third fumble of the game, and drove 73 yards on 12 plays for the lead.
Johnson was the first back to break 100 yards against the Huskers since Notre Dame's Arnaz Battle ran for 107 in the second game of the season.
Carlos Polk intercepted an Ochs' pass on the second play of the game and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. It was the first career TD for Polk, a senior linebacker who was playing in his final game at Memorial Stadium.
Crouch gave Nebraska a 14-0 lead with 4:48 left in the first quarter on a 27-yard run set up by Randy Stella's blocked field goal.
Mark Mariscal cut the lead to 14-3 with a 32-yard field goal eight seconds into the second quarter. The Huskers helped the Buffaloes with penalties for roughing-the-passer and pass interference.
Johnson got Colorado within 14-10 on a 39-yard touchdown run with 8:28 left in the first half. The Buffaloes opened the drive at the Nebraska 47, the fourth time in the half they started in Huskers territory.
|Nebraska's Josh Brown drills a 29-yard field goal to give the Huskers a 34-32 win over Colorado.|