Nebraska fans remember last year’s game against Colorado, maybe better than the players do.
The Huskers seemed to have the game in hand, but then quarterback Adrian Martinez had his knee twisted after he was tackled and had to leave the game.
Colorado came back for a 33-28 win over the Huskers in Lincoln. Now the Huskers are headed west to try and return the favor Saturday in Boulder.
“It was a good game last year,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “I don’t think we played real well, so if our players think we should’ve won, that’s how they should feel.”
But Frost doesn’t want to use a past game as motivation. He doesn’t think that is a particularly effective strategy.
“I’m not crazy about using (past games) as motivation for our team. We should have motivation enough,” Frost said.
The Buffaloes won their first five games last year, but then went on a seven-game losing streak. That led to the firing of coach Mike MacIntyre late last season, and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was later named head coach.
“I know there’s been a lot of really tough games and a heated rivalry between Nebraska and Colorado,” Frost said. “What happened last year, that was a different coaching staff, a different team. That doesn’t have anything to do with this year’s game.”
Martinez feels the same way. Last year, and whatever may have happened in that game, is over. The game coming up is what matters.
“There really isn’t too much to remember about it for me,” Martinez said. “It is football. I think injuries are a part of the game and it is what it is. I moved on after that and I have moved on since and I’m just really ready to go.”
None of the Husker players have ever played in Boulder, but Frost has.
He was quarterback for the national championship team in 1997 that edged the Buffaloes 27-24 at Folsom Field.
He’s also coached there once as an assistant at Kansas State and twice when he was an assistant at Oregon.
“I think it’s a good scene for college football. It’s a pretty scene,” Frost said. “There is a lot of pageantry around it, particularly when it involves Nebraska and Colorado. I’ve played there once as a player.
“So I’m pretty used to it and comfortable with it. It’s a fun place to play.”
The Huskers were having fun a year ago in Lincoln until things went bad in the fourth quarter. It was Nebraska’s first game after the opener against Akron was canceled because of a thunderstorm.
This year the Huskers have a 35-21 win over South Alabama in the books. That should help Frost and his team.
The offense struggled mightily against South Alabama. Frost is hoping they were able to fix some of those issues during practice this week.
“I’m glad we didn’t go into a game in Colorado and play the way we did Saturday, at least on one side of the ball,” Frost said. “Hopefully we’re able to work some of those kinks out and fix some of the problems. I think it will give us the chance at least to play a lot better in the Colorado game than we did a year ago.”
The Huskers ran just 16 plays in the second half against South Alabama, but the defense returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble in the end zone for another and JD Spielman returned a punt for a score.
Martinez said it’s nice to have a game under their belts.
“It is good for our team and it was good for us to learn a lesson offensively I think in that first game, use it moving forward instead of not having that opportunity to get better and maybe shake off some of the rust as you would call it, or whatever the case may be,” Martinez said. “I think it was good for us and good for our team in general.”
The Huskers will have to deal with the high altitude on Saturday. Nebraska linebacker JoJo Domann, a Colorado Springs native, said it does make a difference.
“You’re going to get tired a little quicker,” Domann said. “You’re going to be fatigued, but it’s mind over matter with anything. Even though the physical elements might be at our disadvantage, it’s in between the ears.”
Frost said he doesn’t remember altitude having much of an effect on him or his teammates when they played there back in 1997.
“ I think listening to our guys talk, it has more effect on you the second or third day you’re in the place,” Frost said. “Our kids are in good shape. We’re not even going to really address it. We’re going to go out and play.”