Oh boy. Here we go again.
We’ve seen this one before. Nebraska plays well, builds a lead, the opponent comes back, makes all the plays down the stretch, Huskers lose.
It’s enough to make you wonder if somebody sold the program’s soul to the devil late in the previous century in exchange for three national championships in four seasons.
For over a half Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, it looked like the Buffaloes absolutely couldn’t score against the Huskers. And then in the fourth quarter it looked like the Huskers absolutely couldn’t stop the Buffaloes.
In the end, it was more of the same old same old. Colorado made the plays down the stretch — including a perfectly thrown 26-yard TD pass from Steven Montez to Tony Brown to tie the game at 31 with 46 seconds left in regulation.
The Husker even won the flip and went on defense to open the overtime. Colorado’s James Stefanou nailed a 34-yard field goal to give the Buffaloes the lead, and all the Huskers had to do was score a TD to win the game.
Instead, a couple of running plays gained nothing and the first bad snap of the game threw quarterback Adrian Martinez off on third down and he was sacked.
And Nebraska punter Isaac Armstrong missed a 48-yard field goal — yes, the punter was kicking because the regular kicker was home hurt — and it was all over.
A 17-0 Husker lead at the half turned into a 34-31 Colorado win in overtime.
Will this pain for the program and its fans ever stop?
We saw so many potential wins turn into losses for the Huskers a year ago in Scott Frost’s first season as head coach. The 33-28 loss to Colorado a year ago in Lincoln, the 34-31 (yes the same score again) loss to Northwestern on the road, a 36-31 loss at Ohio State and a 31-28 loss at Iowa to end the 2018 season.
It was the eighth straight road loss for Nebraska dating back to a 25-24 win at Purdue on Oct. 28, 2017.
This one could have — maybe should have — been different. It looked like everything was going the Huskers’ way with a 17-0 lead at the half.
Colorado had trouble stopping the Huskers or moving the ball in the first half. The Buffaloes were held without a rushing yard in the first two quarters.
The Blackshirts seemed to have things rolling. The defensive line was giving Montez fits and the entire defense was making tackles. There weren’t many missed in the opening half of play.
Boy, did that change in the third quarter.
The Buffaloes got hot in the second half. First on defense, where they shut down the Huskers in the third quarter, and then the offense followed.
Neither Frost or his players were in a good mood after the game. Both Frost and Martinez apologized to the fans for letting this one slip away.
“I promise you guys (the fans) this is going to get better,” Frost said in his postgame press conference.
Martinez said; “We let the fans down, we let Coach Frost down. I wanted this game, and we wanted this game. We had that mindset coming in and we lost, plain and simple. We’re going to have to bounce back.”
You have to give some credit to Colorado too. The Buffs’ coaching staff made the right changes in the second half to get its team back in the game.
From a Colorado point of view, the flea flicker from Montez to K.D. Dixon that went for a 95-yard touchdown was a thing of beauty. So was the tying pass from Montez to Brown. Lamar Jackson had great coverage on the play, but the ball was thrown in the perfect spot.
It’s over now. Nothing to do but move on to the next game.
But while this one is over, Martinez doesn’t want his teammates to forget it.
“Like I told those guys in the locker room, remember this,” he said. “Remember this feeling. Stuff happens, but good teams will bounce back. Great teams will be even better.”
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.