Boulder, Colo. — This is why Bo Pelini didn’t want his team even thinking about Texas until next week.
With the Big 12 North title already wrapped up, he forbade the Nebraska Cornhuskers from so much as mentioning the Longhorns, whom they’ll face in the conference championship next Saturday.
Sure enough, the Colorado Buffaloes gave Nebraska all it could handle before the Huskers left Folsom Field with a sloppy 28-20 victory Friday.
Nebraska had just as tough of a tuneup for the Big 12 championship game as the third-ranked Longhorns did one day earlier when they beat Texas A&M, 49-39, to keep their national championship hopes alive.
“I thought we took a step back today,” Pelini said after the Cornhuskers (9-3, 6-2) struggled on offense and only pulled this one out because of touchdowns on a punt return and an interception.
“It was a very average effort,” agreed Nebraska nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. “I think we were playing hard, but there were aspects of the game where we definitely made a lot of mistakes. We shouldn’t allow that. It was just a collective game of small plays where we were right there to make the play and we didn’t do it.”
The Buffaloes (3-9, 2-6) put up a good fight one day after learning their embattled coach would return next season.
Dan Hawkins is 16-33 with four losing seasons, a 2-20 road record and a 10-22 mark in conference play since bolting Boise State in 2006 to clean up a program tarnished by scandal under Gary Barnett’s watch.
Although he has succeeded in that regard, Hawkins has lost games and fans by the bunches.
Many alumni and fans figured the failure to come anywhere close to the double-digit wins and a bowl berth that Hawkins set as his goal this season would cost the coach his job.
But athletic director Mike Bohn decided to give him another year.