2020 marks 50 years since Nebraska football entered the history books with its first national championship season. The 1970 Huskers, coached by the legendary Bob Devaney, broke through on a grand night that capped a grand season, giving momentum to a fan base whose fervor has barely waned to this day. Each week, through the beginning of January, The World-Herald will revisit the 1970 season, allowing readers to relive the first Husker national title and get to know — again — the players and coaches who made it happen.
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Halloween in Boulder. Even in 1970, Nebraska-Colorado was considered a bitter rivalry. Since coach Eddie Crowder took over the Buffaloes in 1963, they had only one win over the Huskers.
In the preseason, Crowder said his team would have a lot to say about the Big Eight conference championship. But with a 1-3 league record going into the sold-out game televised regionally on ABC, time was against the Buffs. But they threw a second-half scare at the Huskers.
As John Dalton of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph wrote following the 29-13 Husker win before a record crowd of 50,881 — an estimated 12,000 from Nebraska:
Nebraska brought a Number 4 national ranking into the game and for three quarters the Colorado Buffs looked like they could have been ranked as high.
A superb defensive effort by Colorado, plus the strong running backs Ward Walsh and John Tarver, brought the Buffs back to within two, 15-13, late in the game but an 80-yard Nebraska kickoff return and a following pass interception ran the Cornhuskers’ final margin to 29-13 in Big 8 play Saturday in Folsom Stadium.
The Buffs felt the sting of the Big Red offense. Cornerback (sic) Van Brownson riddled Colorado’s secondary in the first half with a pair of touchdown passes to build a 12-point lead. The Buffs never led in the game.
But if teams were judged by their defensive prowess, Colorado would certainly receive recognition. The Boulder front line, led by Herb Orvis and Tackle Bruce Smith, contained Nebraska rushers through most of the game.
The only area in which the Buffaloes experienced trouble was their secondary and the lack hurt them.
Colorado dropped to 3-4 with the loss, but won its final three games to be invited to the Liberty Bowl. It lost 17-3 to Tulane. The next season, with only losses to No. 1 NU and No. 2 Oklahoma, the Buffaloes were 10-2 and completed a Big Eight sweep of the top three places in the final Associated Press rankings.