Oh, the hopes were there.
Shortly after the Big 12 conference was established, the powers that be decided that the Thanksgiving game, which had long since been reserved for Oklahoma as the Big 8 conference, would be switched to Colorado in 1996.
So let’s review to see how the series has gone over the past 13 years, shall we?
Heading into tomorrow’s game, Nebraska leads the series nine wins to four. This is a bit deceiving as the combined score for the series is 385 to 363 in favor of the Huskers, which would lead one to conclude that the games have been tight contests.
Of the Huskers' nine wins, seven of them have been by nine or fewer points, including the first five being five points or less. However, Colorado’s four wins have been by margins of 14, 15, 26, and six points, which is why the overall scoring is so close.
Also during this period, the Huskers have won or shared the Big 12 North eight times, and Colorado has won it four, not counting this season.
Coming into this year’s contest, to say that Colorado has had a down year in 2009 might be understating the facts. It appears on the surface that head coach Dan Hawkins is fighting for his job. Hawkins brings a record of 3-8 (2-5) into Friday’s matchup.
Hawkins' football program actually is backsliding, with season records of 2-10 in 2006 followed by 6-7, 5-7, and the current 3-8. That computes to a record of 16-32, including 2-20 on the road. Not exactly the type of résumé that gets you and your staff a raise after the season, now is it?
Based on recent history, Hawkins would not be sticking around Lincoln with that record, now would he folks?
Looking at this year's matchup on paper, it appears to be very one-sided in the Huskers' favor. Colorado’s offense ranks 108th nationally in total offense. However, sophomore running back Rodney Stewart has rushed for 100 yards or more four times this season but is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
Colorado is also among the nation's five worst teams in punting and punt returns. Playing smart has not been the Buffaloes' strongest area either. They're 118th out of 120 in penalties and 117th in penalty yards. Combine that with the fact that they're 82nd in turnover margin and 117th in sacks allowed, and it is easy to see why they are 3-8 this season.
Baring food poisoning from a bad turkey or a simple case of “I don’t care,” it would be a tremendous upset were the Huskers to lose this Friday. Colorado will, of course, bring its “A” game against the Huskers, that is for certain—they do it practically every single year.
However, that being said, I don’t believe for a minute that the Buffaloes have enough offensive talent or strength to put pressure on the Blackshirt defense for more than 10 points.
So unless we have a return of the Iowa State game, I see the Huskers winning the contest by the score of 23 to 10. Ndamukong Suh and company dominates the line of scrimmage, and Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead move the ball enough to make it a good Thanksgiving weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving and GBR!