Publication:Colo Spgs Gazette; Date:Nov 26, 2005; Section:Sports; Page Number:28

Colorado has so much at stake and still lays an egg

OPINION MILO F. BRYANT Gazette Sports columnist

    BOULDER - Gary Barnett couldn’t explain how his Colorado Buffaloes could have every motivation to beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers and still get stomped at Folsom Field.

    “I don’t understand it,” Barnett said Friday, rubbing his head and talking with measured tone. “It’s dumbfounding. I don’t know what happened. It’s dumbfounding.”

    Seniors James Garee and Evan Judge were equally as stunned. The two stood on the field soon after the game and watched the Nebraska faithful celebrate. The two had a range of emotions flowing through them. But they had nobody, except the folks in the locker room, to blame for the loss.

    The Buffaloes had two weeks to prepare for a game against a team that the players have thought about all year. And the Buffaloes disappeared.

    A trip to the Big 12 Championship Game was on the line, too — for the second consecutive game. And the Buffaloes lay down with barely a fight.

    Nebraska wins, 30-3.

    That’s a knockout, folks.

    Blame Barnett for not having his team pre-
pared. Blame quarterback Joel Klatt for missing receivers left and right. Blame cornerback Gerett Burl for getting roasted too many times.

    Call it the trifecta of misery. The Buffaloes’ offense couldn’t sustain a drive. The Buffaloes’ defense, especially a secondary that’s probably still allowing deep completions, couldn’t stop a drive. The Buffaloes’ special teams couldn’t perform a play without earning a penalty.

    If you want specifics — 10 of Colorado’s 13 drives ended with a punt or an interception; the Cornhuskers’ offense had 303 total yards in the first half, 497 for the game; with 5:12 remaining and the game well out of reach, the Buffaloes earned an undisciplined 15-yard penalty for roughing the kicker.

    “We put three points on the board and gave up a number of big plays in the passing game,” Barnett said. “Part of that is execution, and the coaches have to take responsibility for that.”

    Still, there’s hope. If Iowa State loses today, the Buffaloes will slip into the back door of the Big 12 Championship Game. But who wants to see that train wreck with the Texas Longhorns?

    “If (Iowa State) wins, they deserve to go,” Garee said. “If we wanted to go the Big 12 Championship, we would have won one of these last two games.”

    The frustrating thing is the Buffaloes had the talent to win at least one, if not both, of their past two games. That disappointment and, moreover, the embarrassment, boiled over into the stands, too.

    Fans in the student section threw various objects on to the field, enough that officials asked that Sections 115 and 116 be cleared before the game would resume.

    There was a 10-minuteplus delay in the game midway through the fourth quarter as both teams cleared the field.

    Security escorted select students out of the stadium. Other students argued with police officers. And others continued to throw cups, water bottles and fruit on the field.

    Then with 6:48 remaining, a man wearing a gold shirt with black lettering jumped over the southern end zone fence and ran the length of the football field, taking off his shirt about halfway. Upon reaching the north end of the field, a security guard stopped the man.

    Moments later, the shirtless man was alone and quickly walking away from the stadium and the security guard, proving that the security staff at Folsom Field was as porous as the Buffaloes’ secondary.

    “They probably felt the same frustration that all of us felt today, and they just had some things they could throw,” Barnett said about the students. “They’re just a microcosm of what we were feeling inside as well, and we just couldn’t do anything about it.”

    Barnett and Klatt were asked if they’d rather play next week in the conference championship or in a bowl game about a month away. Each sidestepped the question, saying there was no answer at that moment.

    The answer, however, was displayed in the Buffaloes’ 27-point loss.

    The team could use a month to build its spirit, and a few of its fans could use the month to get some sense.

Columnist Milo F. Bryant can be

    reached at 636-0252 or