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Barnett: 'Some days, it is just your day'

pictureFor CU, it was history in the taking

BOULDER -- After a decade of misery, gloating is not only permitted, it is demanded.

"This is an all-time victory in CU history, in Nebraska history," bubbled Eric Bieniemy, running backs coach now, running back when last Colorado whipped the Cornhuskers at the game of football.

"We're in the history books not just for beating Nebraska, we're in the history books for breaking records and beating Nebraska.

"Look, 42 points in the first half, a record. Sixty-two points, a record. Chris Brown's six touchdowns, a record. Maybe this is not a national championship team (as was Bieniemy's) but this is a special team. This is a great team."

All of the above is true, so true, in fact, that Brown's six touchdowns and 36 points Friday would have been just short of enough to do the job all by himself, recalling running backs' names like Bieniemy and Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam. All of that against Nebraska, nemesis and yardstick for everything Colorado wants to be.

This was manifest evidence of Gary Barnett's Return to Dominance, except that no one ever had been this dominant against Nebraska. This was not a return, this was a fresh, new world, unseen, unimagined, unvisited, unfamiliar.

"It was like a fairy tale," Nebraska cornerback Keyuo Craver said. "Everything CU did was right."

Not entirely right. For most of the third quarter, after Colorado had begun wasting a 32-point lead built in the second period, it was like watching someone who had climbed to a ledge they never conceived of reaching begin losing their grip one finger at a time.

"They kept punching," offensive tackle Victor Rogers said, "and we kept punching back. This was like payday, like the biggest paycheck we could get. No kicks, no last plays of the game, just us controlling everything."

The 62 points in the 62-36 astonishment were nearly as many as Colorado ever had scored against anybody, certainly without a Northeastern in front of Louisiana. This was against Nebraska, the most against Nebraska ever, top-ranked Bowl Championship Series beauty queen, persistent Big 12 Conference bully, Heisman aspirant Eric Crouch-led Nebraska.

"I don't know how to feel about this," coach Gary Barnett said. "If it were by one point . . . but 62 points. This was our day. Some days, it is just your day."

It is never Colorado's day, never against Nebraska, never when anything important is to be gained, in this case another game next week in Texas for the Big 12 championship, most likely against defending national champion Oklahoma.

If Barnett was constipated by coaching caution, Rogers, one-fifth of a Colorado offensive line that turned the famed Blackshirts of Nebraska defense into some altogether more delicate color, knew exactly how he felt.

"Nobody said we could do it, but we whipped they behinds!" shouted Rogers in the early postgame delirium, making up in fervor what he lacked in working knowledge of pronouns.

So forceful was Colorado, so maddening to Nebraska, that the Cornhuskers had to resort to trickery to get back into the game, running plays with more handoffs than any seen since the days of the Carlisle Indians.

This game was less Big 12, bone-crunching football than some kind of flea circus and bicycle race. This is what each team usually does to lesser teams, but never to each other.

The final score looked like something out of Big East Conference basketball and the total yards (1,134) for the two teams would make Brigham Young jealous. This was offense in an instant, just add amazement and stir. Or better yet, don't look away, there goes Brown into the end zone again.

"All I can say is, it was easy," said Brown, who also rushed for 198 yards to Bobby Purify's 162. "All I had to do was run through holes to the end zone."

If Nebraska lost its chance for a national title, so did Crouch likely lose his chance at the Heisman. All of Crouch's flaws were made evident, most notably his inability to throw in any preplanned direction. Crouch is not a quarterback as much as foreman of the offense, and if his legs are gems, his arm is a wooden leg.

No greater relief had the Colorado defense than seeing Crouch dropping back to pass.

Before the game, the concern was whether Crouch would, at some point, strike the Heisman pose. What Crouch and Nebraska were left with was the old Cold War pose: Duck and cover.

"This is a terrible feeling," said Nebraska defensive tackle Jeremy Slechta said. "We had played so well for 11 games and had given up so few points all year. To give up 62, they played great and we played (terrible)."

Welcome to Colorado's world. Formerly.


Contact Bernie Lincicome at (303) 892-2411 or lincicomeb@RockyMountainNews.com.

November 24, 2001

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