12:00 PM ET, November 26, 2004
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, NE), Lincoln, NE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Colorado stayed alive in the Big 12 North race for another day and ended Nebraska's season in November for the first time since 1968.
The Buffaloes' 26-20 win Friday sent the Cornhuskers to their first losing season in 43 years and snapped their NCAA-record streak of consecutive bowl appearances at 35.
"I'm really glad they're home for the holidays," Colorado defensive tackle Matt McChesney said. "They can sit and watch everybody else play. I hope it feels good."
Bobby Purify ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and the Buffaloes intercepted Nebraska's Joe Dailey four times. They won their third straight after a 1-4 start in the conference and they did it against an opponent that they love to hate -- one former Colorado coach Bill McCartney designated as the Buffs' chief rival back in the 1980s.
Now the Buffaloes (7-4, 4-4) need Missouri to win at Iowa State on Saturday to advance to the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma on Dec. 4 in Kansas City, Mo.
"We'll worry about that tomorrow," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "If it's supposed to happen, it will happen. If not, we'll go someplace else."
While a bowl is in the Buffs' future, regardless of what happens Saturday, Nebraska (5-6, 3-5) is done.
The Huskers, who fired Frank Solich after a 9-3 regular season last year, ended the season with four losses in five games under new coach Bill Callahan.
"It's one game today, it's one season. I never look back," Callahan said. "I'm disappointed we couldn't continue it, but our kids fought and did the best they could. It was a good effort. We had a chance to keep that going, but we didn't get it done."
Receiver Willie Amos shrugged at the end of the streak.
"Records are made to be broken. Everything on this earth isn't constant," Amos said. "It's up to the next guys to come build up the program again."
Purify, who ran for 101 yards in the first half, became Colorado's No. 3 career rusher on his 9-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The senior tailback has 1,010 yards for the season and 3,009 in his career.
Joel Klatt completed 18 of 29 passes, with one interception, for 222 yards and a touchdown for Colorado. Blake Mackey had eight catches for 116 yards, making his first start.
With help from Missouri, the Buffaloes will play in the Big 12 championship game for the third time in four years.
"Me and about 70 friends may be the biggest Missouri fans in the country," Klatt said. "Hopefully, they'll pull it out."
The Buffs were not expected to be in this position after an offseason sex and recruiting scandal that led to Barnett's three-month suspension.
The Buffs awarded a game ball to outgoing athletic director Dick Tharp, who this week announced his resignation effective Nov. 30 after acknowledging that the sex and recruiting scandal and allegations of financial mismanagement had stained the school's reputation.
Klatt said it was fitting.
"Mr. Tharp is a man of integrity and character. What happened with him was unfortunate," Klatt said. "To see him after the game and give him a hug and see him with the game ball was great."
Dailey completed his first season as triggerman for Callahan's West Coast offense with another erratic performance. He was 29 of 55 for 306 yards with two touchdowns. Colorado converted three of the picks thrown by Dailey into 13 points.
But Dailey also rallied the Cornhuskers late.
He threw 4-yard touchdown passes to Steve Kriewald and Ross Pilkington in the final four minutes to draw the Huskers within 26-20. But Nebraska couldn't connect on an onside kick with about a minute and a half left, and Colorado hung on for the win.
Cory Ross, the Huskers' 1,000-yard rusher, was held to 35 yards on 11 attempts. He was shaken up, missed the last 6:32 of the first half and carried only once more.
The Huskers opened the game with an onside kick that did work, but fittingly for such a disappointing season, they went three-and-out on the possession.
The Buffaloes then moved 90 yards in 14 plays, with Klatt throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mackey.
Nebraska had just 11 yards in the first quarter and was down 17-0 early in the second.
"They were yelling at each other in the huddle," McChesney said of the Huskers. "The offensive line was yelling at the quarterback, and he was yelling at everybody. I was happy about that.
"But they came back with a lot of heart at the end. I wasn't expecting that."