It took a little bit longer than expected, but the Scott Frost era got underway Saturday at Nebraska, and the result was not what the 362nd straight sell-out at Memorial Stadium expected.
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez threw for three touchdowns and 351 yards, and Laviska Shenault, Jr. had 10 receptions for 177 yards and one touchdown via the air and one rushing score as the Buffaloes beat the Cornhuskers 33-28 in Lincoln, Neb.
The Cornhuskers were supposed to open their season against Akron on Sept. 1, but lightning and a deluge of rain forced the cancellation of Frost’s much-anticipated return to his alma mater.
Nebraska (0-1) was poised to win Saturday’s game despite three costly turnovers and an injury to starting quarterback Adrian Martinez. Leading 28-27, the Blackshirt defense had Montez backed up with a third-and-24 when Antonio Reed was flagged for unnecessary roughness after hitting a defenseless receiver to give Colorado new life with 1:14 left.
Colorado (2-0) took over on the Nebraska 40-yard line and one play later, Montez hit Shenault in stride for the game-winner.
The comeback win not only spoiled Frost’s return, but also the debut of Nebraska’s heralded true freshman quarterback. Martinez accounted for three touchdowns and 304 total yards before having to leave the game late in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed leg injury.
Martinez was the first true Nebraska freshman quarterback to start a season opener for Nebraska.
Sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch replaced Martinez and drove the Cornhuskers to the Colorado 20 on the final drive before throwing incomplete out of the end zone as time expired.
Despite fumbling on their first two possessions and Martinez throwing an interception midway through the fourth quarter, the Cornhuskers outgained the Buffaloes, 565 yards to 395.
But the miscues added up and cost the Cornhuskers in the end.
Running back Greg Bell fumbled on Nebraska’s first series. Montez responded by connecting with Jay McIntyre on a 3-yard pass to culminate an 87-yard drive and an early 7-0 Colorado lead.
Martinez fumbled two plays later at Nebraska’s own 34. The Buffaloes drove and Shenault ran 3 yards for a score, giving Colorado a 14-0 lead before the Cornhuskers’ faithful knew what hit them.
On the Cornhuskers’ third series, Martinez got loose and ran 41 yards to make the score 14-7. Two possessions later, running back Devine Ozigbo tied the game with an 8-yard run and Memorial Stadium was rocking.
Martinez engineered an eight-play, 79-yard drive to give the Cornhuskers a 21-14 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half.
James Stefanou, who would later miss two field goals, connected from 40 yards out near the end of the half to pull the Buffs to within four at 21-17.
—Field Level Media