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Nebraska’s Offense Stumbles, Defense Shines, in 36-14 Loss to Colorado

Nebraska football

On a different day, facing a different opponent, the Nebraska football team found itself trapped in a familiar narrative.

While the Husker defense displayed resilience, keeping Nebraska competitive for significant stretches, critical offensive blunders proved to be their undoing. Despite a promising first-half surge by the Huskers, it ultimately amounted to naught, as a four-turnover debacle, including three missteps by quarterback Jeff Sims, gifted Colorado the opportunities they needed.

In a game that saw No. 22 Colorado extract 16 points from turnovers, they emerged victorious with a final score of 36-14 over Nebraska, plunging the Huskers to a disheartening 0-2 record for the season.

Merely a week after dismantling TCU and racking up a remarkable 550 yards, the Colorado offense was initially confronted with a formidable challenge. Their first three drives were stifled, concluding with punts as Nebraska’s relentless defensive line applied relentless pressure, while the defensive backs held their ground.

On one memorable play, Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders weaved left and right, displaying remarkable agility as he sought to evade Nebraska’s relentless pass rush. As the play unfolded, Sanders desperately waited for one of his wide receivers to break free. Alas, that moment never materialized. The Nebraska secondary outlasted Sanders on this pivotal third down, ultimately compelling him to step out of bounds, resulting in a coverage sack.

With the game deadlocked at 0-0 for the opening 20 minutes, Nebraska found themselves in the exact low-scoring, possession-limited scenario they had hoped for. However, their own offensive execution proved to be glaringly deficient. The Huskers advanced their opening possession to the edge of field goal range, only for quarterback Jeff Sims to mishandle a third-down shotgun snap, promptly recovered by Colorado.

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After two drives that culminated in punts, running back Gabe Ervin Jr. injected life into Nebraska’s offense with a pair of impressive carries, propelling them back into Colorado territory. But another third-down mishap occurred when a shotgun snap collided with a player in motion. Consequently, freshman kicker Tristan Alvano was forced into a challenging 45-yard field goal attempt, which unluckily veered off the right upright.

The most damaging fumbled snap of the half came next. On the first play of a new possession, Sims fumbled yet another shotgun snap, leading to a Colorado recovery just outside the red zone. The Husker defense held firm, preventing Colorado from reaching the end zone, but the Buffaloes managed to put up a 31-yard field goal, marking the game’s first points.

In their quest to recover from the three-point deficit, Nebraska’s struggles escalated in the final five minutes of the half.

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A third-down pass from Sims intended for tight end Thomas Fidone was intercepted by Colorado’s Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig, leaving Nebraska reeling. It took just one play for Sanders to connect with wide receiver Tar’Varish Dawson Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown pass, further extending Colorado’s lead.

The ensuing offensive series for Nebraska yielded minimal progress, with their last nine offensive plays of the half amounting to a mere six yards, two turnovers, and a punt. With one minute remaining in the half, Colorado swiftly advanced into field goal range, converting a 32-yard kick that pushed the Buffaloes ahead 13-0 at halftime.

Colorado appeared poised to put the game out of reach in the second half, with a 40-yard completion from Sanders to Travis Hunter setting the stage for another scoring opportunity. However, Omar Brown’s fourth-down tackle provided a glimmer of hope as Nebraska regained possession.

That hope was briefly realized when Sims embarked on a 57-yard rushing touchdown, narrowing Colorado’s lead to 13-7. Unfortunately for the Huskers, the Buffaloes quickly regained their offensive momentum.

A 41-yard pass to Xavier Weaver down the sideline paved the way for a 12-yard touchdown reception by Weaver just five plays later. Colorado then added a field goal on their next possession, extending their lead to 23-7.

The game was sealed by one final turnover, as Gabe Ervin lost a fourth-quarter fumble, resulting in an 8-yard rushing touchdown for Colorado. Sanders added another rushing touchdown late in the game.

Sims departed the game midway through the fourth quarter due to an injury sustained when a Colorado defender landed on his knee during a tackle. Backups Heinrich Haarberg and Chubba Purdy alternated snaps to close out the contest.

Sims completed 9 of 15 passes for 106 yards and carried the ball 67 yards on 10 attempts. Colorado outperformed Nebraska with 468 total yards compared to Nebraska’s 341, thanks in large part to Sanders’ 391-yard passing performance.

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