KD Nixon

Associated Press

Colorado rallies from 17 down to upend No. 25 Nebraska in OT

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These past two games have been so good it makes you pine for the days when Colorado and Nebraska found a way to play every season. After Colorado took a back-and-forth game in Lincoln a year ago, the Buffaloes completed a 17-point comeback in barely more than a quarter to stun No. 25 Nebraska, 34-31 in overtime.

Trailing 17-0 at the break, Colorado rallied to tie the game at 24-24, then again at 31-31 on a fabulous 26-yard heave from Steven Montez to Tony Brown with 46 seconds left in regulation. Heaving the ball down the field with 24 ticks to play, Adrian Martinez was intercepted by CU’s Dimitri Stanley, who raced the ball 48 yards to the Nebraska 41 with nine seconds to play, but replay found his knee was down upon catching the ball at his own 15 and the game went to overtime.

Colorado (2-0) opened overtime with a 34-yard James Stefanou field goal, then sacked Martinez on 3rd-and-9 to force a 48-yard Isaac Armstrong field goal to push the game to double overtime, but his kick sailed wide right.

The first half was near perfect for Nebraska (1-1). Martinez hit all nine of his passes for 180 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 45 more with another score, allowing the Huskers to take a 17-0 lead to the break.

The second half? A different story.

After an exchange of five punts to open the half, Colorado finally got on the board on an 11-yard Jaren Mangham run at the 1:52 mark of the third quarter, capping an 8-play, 64-yard drive.

Colorado then pulled within three on one of the gutsiest calls of the season: a flea-flicker from the Buffs’ own 4-yard line, which turned into a school-record 96-yard connection from Montez to KD Nixon, pulling CU within 17-14 with 14:22 left to play.

Nebraska, its offense vacant for the entire third quarter, answered immediately: a 75-yard swing pass from Martinez to Maurice Washington on the game’s next snap.

Colorado answered, though, needing only five snaps to put together a 75-yard scoring march of its own. Mangham pulled the Buffaloes back within three at 24-21 with a 7-yard rush with 12:19 left. Colorado’s defense then stepped up, stripping Martinez for the second time of the game, this time at his own 20. Colorado could not take its first lead of the day, Montez’s third-and-goal pass to Brown was too flat, but Stefanou’s 20-yard boot leveled the game with 8:30 remaining.

Nebraska re-gained the lead with a vintage Big 8-Nebraska drive: seven plays, all of them runs by the quarterback or running back, for 75 yards and a score. Martinez punctuated the drive with a 6-yard keeper on 4th-and-1 with 5:49 remaining.

Colorado appeared to seize back momentum when Laviska Shenault returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards, but he was stripped and Nebraska’s Luke Reimer recovered at his won 21. Given a chance to seize permanent control of the game, Nebraska instead went three-and-out, and Colorado took over at its own 29 with 3:33 to play and pulled even on Montez’s pass to Brown.

After throwing for 84 yards in the first half, Montez finished the day 28-of-41 for 375 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Martinez threw for 290 yards and two scores, rushed for 66 and two more, but committed three turnovers.

While Nebraska can take a shallow solace in its 49-20-2 lead in the series, Colorado can point to its two consecutive comeback victories until the teams meet again in 2023.