LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Steven Montez connected with Laviska Shenault Jr. for a 40-yard touchdown with 1:06 to play and Colorado's defense held at the end, allowing the Buffaloes to beat Nebraska 33-28 on Saturday and spoil Scott Frost's debut as the Cornhuskers' coach.
There was no lack of drama in the teams' first meeting since 2010, the last season in the Big 12 for both.
Colorado got the ball for the last time with 2:23 left after Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez went out of the game because of an injury.
Montez moved the Buffaloes from their 23 to the Nebraska 41 before Ben Stille sacked him to set up a third-and-19 that became third and 24 after a false start. Montez overthrew Jay MacIntyre over the middle, but safety Aaron Williams was called for a personal foul for hitting the defenseless MacIntyre.
Given new life, Montez hit Shenault along the right sideline for the go-ahead score.
Sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch, who took over for Martinez, moved the Huskers to the CU 21, but JD Spielman couldn't come down with the ball in the end zone on the game's final play.
Martinez, the first Nebraska true freshman to start at quarterback in an opener, ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 187 yards and another score. Martinez was injured on a short run with 3:29 left and had to be helped off the field.
Montez was 33 of 50 for 351 yards and three touchdowns, with Shenault catching 10 balls for 177 yards.
Nebraska committed turnovers on its first two possessions, and Colorado capitalized for a 14-0 lead.
The Huskers led 21-17 at half and were up 28-20 in the third before the Buffaloes stormed back.
Montez passed 8 yards to MacIntyre for a touchdown that pulled the Buffs to 28-27. After missing two field goals that would have given them the lead, the Buffaloes got the ball back for the winning touchdown.
Colorado: Montez continues to stamp himself as one of the premier quarterbacks in the Pac-12, making play after play on a day when the running game couldn't gain traction.
Nebraska: Martinez had a splendid debut before getting hurt, and the defense looks much better than the unit that ranked among the worst in the nation last year. The Huskers had seven sacks after having only 14 last season.
Colorado plays at home against FCS opponent New Hampshire.
Nebraska hosts Troy, which visits Lincoln for the fifth time in 18 years.
329 –– Nebraska rushed for 329 yards on 54 carries. The 329 rushing yards marks the most rushing yards for Nebraska since rushing for 458 yards against Illinois on Sept. 27, 2014. It is Nebraska’s first 300-yard rushing game since posting 310 rushing yards at Northwestern on Sept. 24, 2016.
· Nebraska’s season high for rushing yards in 2017 was 225 yards against Arkansas State in the season opener.
· Nebraska’s 54 rushing attempts eclipsed Nebraska’s rushing attempt high last year of 47 attempts vs. Rutgers.
100 –– Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez and running back Greg Bell each rushed for more than 100 yards in today’s game, with Martinez totaling 117 yards and Bell accounting for 104 yards on the ground. This marks the first time Nebraska has had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game since Ameer Abdullah rushed for 208 yards and Imani Cross had 109 yards against Illinois in 2014.
304 –– Martinez accounted for 304 yards, including 117 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a pair of rushing touchdowns, while completing 15-of-20 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown.
· The 117 rushing yards mark the first 100-yard rushing day by a Nebraska quarterback since Tommy Armstrong ran for 132 yards at Northwestern in 2016. It is also the most rushing yards by a Husker quarterback in a season opener since Taylor Martinez rushed for 135 yards against Chattanooga in 2011.
· Martinez had a 41-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The 41-yard rush was the longest by a Nebraska quarterback since a 42-yard rush by Tommy Armstrong Jr. against McNeese State on Sept. 6, 2014.
40 –– Nebraska had a pair of rushes of at least 40 yards in today’s game—a 41-yard rush by Martinez and a 45-yard run by running back Greg Bell. This marked the first time Nebraska has had a par of 40-yard rushes in a game since Sept. 13, 2014 at Fresno State. In that game, Ameer Abdullah had a 57-yard run and Imani Cross had a 62-yard rush.
7 –– Nebraska had seven sacks in today’s game, including two by Khalil Davis, 1.5 each by seniors Luke Gifford and Freedom Akinmoladun, and one each from Tyrin Ferguson and Ben Stille. The seven sacks bettered last year’s season high of five vs. Illinois and are the most by Nebraska since they had seven at Michigan (2013), vs. Idaho State (2012) and vs. Idaho (2010). Nebraska last had more than seven sacks in a game when it had nine against Texas at the 2009 Big 12 title game.
· Nebraska totaled 14 sacks as a defense in 2017.
· Nebraska limited Colorado to 44 rushing yards, including nine yards in the first half and -12 rushing yards in the second quarter.
· Nebraska totaled 565 yards of total offense in the game, the first 500-yard game for Nebraska since Sept. 24, 2016 at Northwestern when it had 556 total yards. The Huskers’ season high in 2017 was 471 yards at Purdue.
· Sophomore receiver JD Spielman had a 57-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, marking the second-longest catch of his career (77 yards vs. Ohio State, 2017). The 57-yard reception was the sixth play of Spielman’s career of at least 40 yards, including three kickoff returns, two receptions and one rush.
· Stanley Morgan Jr. had five receptions for 75 yards in the game, marking his 27th consecutive game with at least one reception. Morgan increased his career receiving yardage total to 1,818 yards. He moved into fifth place on the NU career receiving list, passing Terrence Nunn (1,762 yards).
· Greg Bell’s 45-yard run in the second quarter was the longest by a Husker since Terrell Newby had a 63-yard touchdown run against Illinois on Oct. 1, 2016.
· Senior linebacker Luke Gifford had 1.5 sacks for eight yards. Gifford entered today’s game with 1.5 career sacks for a total of 10 yards.
· Devine Ozigbo had a second-quarter rushing touchdown, marking his 10th career rushing touchdown. Ozigbo has had at least one rushing touchdown in each of his four seasons as a Husker.
· Nebraska had six first-time starters in today’s game. Offensively, the first-time starters were QB Adrian Martinez, RB Greg Bell and WR Mike Williams. Safety Tre Neal and LB Tyrin Ferguson made their first Husker starts on defense, while true freshman place-kicker Barret Pickering also made his first start at Nebraska.