|First meeting||November 17, 1898|
|Latest meeting||September 7, 2019|
|Next meeting||September 9, 2023|
|All-time series||Nebraska leads, 49-20-2|
|Largest victory||Nebraska, 59-0 (1981)|
|Longest win streak||Nebraska, 18 (1968-85)|
|Current win streak||Colorado, 2 (2018-)|
|Locations of Colorado and Nebraska|
The Colorado-Nebraska football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the Colorado Buffaloes and Nebraska Cornhuskers. They first played in 1898, but the rivalry intensified in the 1980s as Colorado improved under head coach Bill McCartney. It was somewhat consolidated with the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, which placed the two universities in the same six-team division and ended Nebraska's annual game with Oklahoma.
The rivalry's intensity was often disputed; while Colorado generally viewed Nebraska as its biggest rival, Nebraska still saw Oklahoma as their historically significant rival. After the formation of the Big 12, the game was traditionally played on the Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving, nationally televised on ABC. In the Big 8, this timeslot was often used for the Nebraska-Oklahoma game. (Oklahoma now plays in-state rival Oklahoma State at the end of the regular season in the Bedlam Series.)
Colorado and Nebraska met six times from 1898 to 1907, then didn't meet again until Colorado joined the Big Seven Conference in 1948. From 1948-61, Colorado went 9-4-1 against Nebraska. After their 7-0 victory in Lincoln in 1961, Colorado gained their only series lead (10-9-1).
With Bob Devaney's arrival in 1962, Nebraska rose from nearly two decades of mediocrity (and seven straight losing seasons) and returned as a national power in the mid-1960s, followed by national titles in 1970 and 1971. He won his first 5 against Colorado and was 10-1; successor Tom Osborne won his first 13, and went 21-3-1.
When Colorado hired Bill McCartney in 1982, he almost immediately designated Nebraska as their primary rival, in an attempt to motivate his team. Nebraska was a perennial powerhouse at the time and had beaten the Buffs 14 straight times; McCartney wanted to use the eventual defeat of Nebraska as a measure of Colorado's success. Four years later in 1986, CU got their first win over the Cornhuskers since 1967, upsetting No. 3 Nebraska 20-10. It was also the first win over Nebraska at Folsom Field in Boulder since 1960.
Colorado started to repeatedly threaten Nebraska in the late '80s afterwards. In 1989, No. 3 Nebraska met No. 2 Colorado at Folsom Field tied atop the Big 8. Colorado won 27-21 on their way to winning their first Big 8 Championship since 1976. No. 9 Colorado went to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln to play No. 3 Nebraska for the Big 8 title yet again in 1990. The Buffaloes won 27-12 en route to their first national title. McCartney went 3-9-1 against Nebraska; Rick Neuheisel 0-4, Gary Barnett 3-4, and Dan Hawkins 1-4.
Historically, the series was mostly one-sided, with Nebraska winning nearly three out of every four match-ups. However, the last two decades had been very competitive with many match-ups decided by a touchdown or less. From 1988 to 1996, both teams were ranked going into the match-up, and in 5 of those meetings both teams were in the top 10 (the 19-19 tie in 1991 was the last recorded by Nebraska). In 1989 and 1994, Colorado and Nebraska met ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, and split those games. From 1996 to 2000, Nebraska won all five games by 15 points combined (17-12, 27-24, 16-14, 33-30, 34-32). The 1999 game was decided in overtime, the only such time that happened until 2019.
More fire fueled the rivalry in 2001 when No. 2 Nebraska went into Boulder undefeated. No. 14 Colorado had one conference loss (41-7 in Austin to then No. 9 Texas; they went from No. 14 to No. 25 afterwards), making this the Big 12 North championship. Colorado shocked the nation by drubbing Nebraska 62-36 and won the Big 12 Championship over No. 3 Texas the week after, 39-37. Nebraska eventually went to the BCS title game despite the loss, but Colorado was only a point behind Nebraska in the BCS poll.
The decade started with Colorado winning 3 of 4, and ended with Nebraska taking 5 of 6. Starting with Bill McCartney's first game in 1982 through 2019, Nebraska is 21-9-1 against Colorado.
The series was disrupted by the 2010-2014 NCAA conference realignment, when both teams left the Big 12 before the 2011 season. Colorado joined the Pac-12 Conference; Nebraska went to the Big Ten Conference. Both now meet division and border rivals in opposite directions. Nebraska now faces Iowa on the Friday after Thanksgiving; Colorado played Utah the same day in 2011 and 2012, but in 2013 the game moved to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
On February 7, 2013, Colorado and Nebraska announced that they agreed to renew the rivalry. The rivalry was renewed on September 8th, 2018 in Lincoln; Colorado won 33-28 on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Steven Montez to Laviska Shenault with 1:06 left. The September 7th, 2019 game at Folsom Field in Boulder saw Colorado come back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to win 34-31 in overtime. Since Nebraska won nine straight from 1992 to 2000, the last 12 games in the series have been an even 6-6 split.
From 1951 to 1961, Nebraska's Innocents Society and Colorado's Heart and Dagger Society exchanged a mounted buffalo head, nicknamed Mr. Chip. This occurred similar to the Victory Bell exchanged between the Innocents Society and Missouri's QEBH Society. Colorado lost the trophy after winning it in 1961 and were not able to present for exchange when Nebraska won in 1962.
|Colorado victories||Nebraska victories||Tie games|