BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – In a completely unexpected and ugly flashback to the bad ol’ days for Colorado, the Buffaloes were no match for Nebraska.

Zac Taylor threw for 392 yards and two scores, Cory Ross accounted for 142 yards and a touchdown and the Huskers dominated CU the way they did when Tom Osborne was coach in a 30-3 win Friday.

A few water bottles and other debris rained down from the CU student section in the fourth quarter, forcing officials to stop action and order two sections of Folsom Field emptied for the final 10 minutes of the game. Nobody appeared injured.

Outcoached, outplayed, out-everythinged by Big Red, Colorado (7-4, 5-3 Big 12) lost its second straight game and might have watched its trip to the Big 12 title game go down the drain, too. The loss left the door open for Iowa State, which will earn the spot with a win at Kansas on Saturday.

CU would back into the game against No. 2 Texas if the Cyclones lose. But really, after watching this complete dismantling – an embarrassment not only to the program but to many of the trash-throwing fans, as well – the words “Colorado” and “championship” would look odd together.

It was the Huskers (7-4, 4-4) who looked like title contenders, putting together, by far, the best 60 minutes of coach Bill Callahan’s troubled two-year tenure. They posted their biggest win in the series since a 52-7 blowout in 1992 and gave themselves quite a boost as they head into the bowl season and beyond.

On the first play of its first possession, Colorado got a 45-yard run by Hugh Charles and that was pretty much it. The big run set up a Mason Crosby field goal that gave the Buffs a 3-0 lead. The Huskers answered with a field goal of their own and CU never came close to taking the lead again.

Ross, a Denver kid who wasn’t recruited by Gary Barnett and the Buffs, had 129 yards receiving. His 19-yard TD off a screen pass early in the second gave the Huskers a 10-3 lead. The rest of the game was a combination of Nebraska dominance – the Huskers defense allowed only 212 yards – and CU’s ineptitude.

The Buffs came into the game leading the conference in penalties and will likely stay there after committing 10 more for 105 yards.

They kept Nebraska’s second touchdown drive alive when, after Taylor called timeout, Huskers center Kurt Mann snapped the ball anyway, which compelled CU linebacker Alex Ligon to slam Taylor to the ground and draw a 15-yard penalty on third-and-10.

Nebraska’s next drive started at midfield thanks to a 15-yard penalty on CU’s Terry Washington for tackling punt returner Cortney Grixby while the ball was still in the air. The CU punt team got bamboozled by Nebraska’s formations twice, drawing penalties each time.

Early in the fourth quarter, with Nebraska leading 27-3, debris started flowing onto the field while the loyal fans in the Nebraska section chanted “Go Big Red, Go Big Red.” Just like old times.

It harkened back to the days when the Huskers took CU for granted and when a Buffs win in a matchup only they considered a rivalry could make their season.

It could have this year, too.

The Buffs were shooting for their fourth trip to the title game in five years. They were an unheard-of, 14-point favorite and Barnett was trying to improve to 4-3 against Nebraska and become the first CU coach in a generation to be able to say he won more than he lost against Big Red.

Now, that’s out the window and much figures to be made of the fact that Barnett has only a year left on his contract with an extension still unsigned.

Nebraska, meanwhile, will sing a different tune.

Led by sacks by Titus Adams, Le Kevin Smith and Barry Cryer, the Huskers confused normally unflappable quarterback Joel Klatt. He went 20-for-40 for 159 yards and an interception.

An embarrassing season that included their first loss to Kansas in 36 years now looks much better for the Huskers. Their bowl destination certainly improved and a program that is already thought to be putting in place a great recruiting class surely wasn’t hurt with this performance in front of a national audience on the day after Thanksgiving.

AP-ES-11-25-05 1929EST


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