By Ryan Morgan
Special to The Denver Post
Saturday, November 24, 2001 - BOULDER - For the thousands of University of Colorado football fans who watched the Buffaloes deal the hated Nebraska Cornhuskers a crushing 62-36 defeat, the first since 1990, sweet victory made the 11-year drought seem almost bearable.
"This is the greatest game I've ever seen."
After CU's biggest victory in years, some 10,000 fans stormed the field, then carried off Folsom Field's goalposts on their shoulders.
Most stayed for a massive postgame celebration, hugging, slapping high-fives with players and shouting in celebration of their beloved Buffs.
With the win, Colorado travels to Irving, Texas, for the Big 12 championship Dec. 1 against either Oklahoma or Texas.
"This is just awesome," said Patsi Kenworthy of Aurora, who has watched the two teams square off for 24 years. "We've been waiting to see this for so long."
But the euphoria wasn't limited to lifetime season-ticket holders. Neophyte fans were also flush with the victory.
"The smile never left my face," said Ryan Duncan, who started attending games for the first time this season.
CU fans said they were drawn to Folsom Field as much by tradition as by the game itself. Ticket-holding fans with spent stubs spanning two and three decades weren't unusual.
"We've been coming here for the last 20 years," said Barbara Kirkmeyer. "It's just a wonderful time."
Kirkmeyer's daughter Caroline said the scoreboard explained why they were having a wonderful time. "Well, because CU's winning, of course," she said.
And fan Ryan Echo, who screamed himself hoarse - partly at nearby Cornhusker fans - said he never doubted that he'd be watching the game in person. "This has been planned for a long, long time," he said.
While boastful by game's end, CU fans at halftime weren't quite as confident. Nebraska had just rallied to within 19 points of the Buffs, and a comeback looked possible.
Cornhusker fans Bill and Tracy O'Connor, who drove from Paxtun, Neb., to see the game, were betting on it.
The game was worth the three-hour drive, they said, for two reasons. First, it's a tradition. Second, "Well, we always win," Tracy O'Connor said. "And we'll come back this time."
But his prediction didn't turn out to be accurate, and by the fourth quarter, the thousands of faithful Nebraska fans streamed out of the stadium to make that dark and lonely trek east on Interstate 76 back to the land of corn.
CU fans like Yaacov Rimer proved that Cornhusker fans who claimed almost a quarter of the stands in Folsom don't have a monopoly on a willingness to travel for their team.
Rimer works for Hebrew University in Jerusalem and became a Buffs fan after he got to know a former CU professor. Friday's was the third CU-Nebraska he has flown to see.
"The last two times I came, they lost, and I was upset," he said. "But I said to myself, "I'll come this time, and it will be lucky.' "