College Football: Nebraska 40, colorado 31
LINCOLN, Neb. ó Alex Henery kicked a school-record 57-yard field goal with 1:43 left and defensive end Ndamukong Suh returned a tipped pass 30 yards for a touchdown seconds later, giving Nebraska a 40-31 victory over Colorado on Friday.
Henery’s third field goal of the game allowed the Cornhuskers to take the lead in a game the 18-point underdog Buffaloes made closer than expected.
Suh snuffed the Buffs’ last hope. Fellow defensive end Zach Potter deflected Cody Hawkins’ pass and Suh made the catch and ran it back for his second interception return for a touchdown this season.
Nebraska (8-4, 5-3 Big 12) positioned itself for an invitation to the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. The loss knocked Colorado (5-7, 2-6) out of bowl contention.
Roy Helu Jr. ran for 166 yards for the Cornhuskers, and Joe Ganz threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and set Nebraska’s single-season passing record.
Colorado was right in the game until the last minute, thanks to a couple big offensive plays in the first quarter, a botched Nebraska fake field goal that led to a CU touchdown and Ganz’s fumble early in the fourth quarter.
Demetrius Sumler’s 4-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 had given Colorado a 31-27 lead late in the third quarter.
Henery kicked a 37-yard field goal to pull Nebraska within a point with 8:09 left.
The Huskers got the ball back for their go-ahead drive after their defense forced a Colorado punt. It looked as if the Buffs would make a stand even though they were playing without linebacker Shaun Mohler, who made 11 tackles before going out with a concussion late in the fourth quarter.
After Helu ran 25 yards to the Colorado 25, Buffs’ blitzing safety Patrick Mahnke recorded his first sack, throwing Ganz for a 15-yard loss on second down. Ganz passed incomplete over the middle to Mike McNeill on third down, leading Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to ask Henery to try a 57-yarder.
Henery’s kick had just enough to clear the cross bar, barely inside the right upright, touching off jubilation on the Nebraska sideline.
Colorado went into halftime tied 24-24 after a crazy turn of events on a Nebraska fake field goal.
The Huskers lined up as if Henery would try a 50-yarder into a slight breeze. At the snap, Henery broke to his right and holder Jake Wesch blindly flipped the ball over his head. Colorado’s Jimmy Smith ran full speed between Henery and Wesch, snatched the ball and ran 58 yards untouched.
Smith looked as if he anticipated the trick play. Nebraska had used it successfully three weeks ago, with Henery running for a first down against Kansas.
Three plays totaling 148 yards got the Buffs out to a 14-0 lead. Hawkins threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Riar Geer on the second play of the game. Hawkins passed 44 yards to Josh Smith and then Sumler took an inside handoff and went around left for a 36-yard touchdown.
Nebraska tied it 14-all touchdown passes by Ganz to Nate Swift (2 yards) and Mike McNeill (53 yards.
Ganz broke Zac Taylor’s 2-year-old single-season school passing record on the touchdown to McNeill. Ganz has thrown for 3,332 yards.
The Huskers were up 24-17 after a 12-play, 7-minute drive that Quentin Castille ended with a 1-yard run.
Hawkins completed 14 of 24 passes for 249 yards. He was intercepted three times.