Nebraska didn't buy it. Defensive coordinator Charlie McBride had a plan: Pressure Stewart until he broke. The Nebraska defensive line savaged Colorado, sacking Stewart three times. Salaam, the nation's leading rusher, finished with 134 yards, but Stewart completed just 12 of 28 passes for 150 yards; worse, in 15 attempts on third or fourth down, Colorado never converted. "We'd see him getting scared back there," said defensive tackle Christian Peter, who with Terry Connealy sealed Stewart's fate with back-to-back fourth-down sacks in the third quarter. "We had to get in his face because we know if you shake Kordell up, he's going to choke."
Berringer was another story. Although Osborne wasn't sure how his quarterback would react, he knew there was no beating the Buffs with the offense Nebraska had run in previous weeks. "I ran him whenever necessary today—and I felt uneasy doing that—but we felt to win this game we'd have to," Osborne said. He needn't have worried. The 6'4" Berringer completed 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards, one touchdown and one interception, ran the option, perfectly flipped a shovel pass and, on a keeper, even disposed of Colorado linebacker Ted Johnson with one swipe of his arm. "I've always felt that, if given the chance, I'd prove what I can do," Berringer said after the game.
So complete was the win that Salaam instantly declared afterward that he would be returning for his senior season. "Unfinished business," he said.
Funny. Those are the same words Zatechka wore on his T-shirt after Saturday's game, the same words the Corn-huskers use to sum up this season. Fact is, Nebraska feels it beat Florida State last January. "It's like a being-on-a-mission thing," Zatechka said. "It seems like we've always got the deck stacked against us: Everybody says we're good but not good enough, that Colorado's going to beat us, that there's no way we can get through the season undefeated."
Long a bastion of bland, Nebraska clearly has gone about creating a prickly attitude for itself. The Cornhuskers got angry at an anonymous letter from Orlando that predicted Colorado would shut out Nebraska, and with nothing but rumors to go on, they decided that Stewart and Salaam had said that they were going to "have fun" with the Husker defense.
"Where do these people get off?" Wiegert said after the game. "They haven't beat us in four years, and they're saying they're going to play with us? Who are they kidding? And tell those guys from Missouri and Kansas State: They get their butts kicked, they shouldn't talk, either."
The only Cornhusker who seemed like himself last Saturday was Osborne, who gave his usual vanilla answers in the post-game press conference and then went on TV and drawled his usual Gary Cooper refusal to campaign for poll votes. "I'd rather let you guys decide that," he said. After he walked off the set, though, Osborne happened by a television. His eyes got wide. "Is that Penn State 35-zip at the half?" he said. "That's tough. Now they'll probably vote them No. 1. Well, maybe the coaches'll vote us high...."
What do you know? The Red is very much alive. And kicking.