KICKOFF: today, 1:36 MDT
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
SERIES: Nebraska leads 48-18-2 (last meeting, 2009, Nebraska 28-20)
RECORDS: Colorado 5l-6, 2-5; Nebraska 9-2, 5-2
POLLS: Nebraska (16 AP, 15 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Nebraska 21-7
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Colorado: Run the ball. The Buffs need solid play from their offensive line to get a big game out RB Rodney Stewart. The defense must prepare for Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, who has rushed for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns and thrown for 1,435 yards and nine scores.
-- For Nebraska: Get some points. With Nebraska's defense playing to championship form, it's up to the offense to find a way to muster a couple of touchdowns. The Huskers must also keep their composure and eliminate penalties after last weekend's debacle at Texas A&M.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
-- With a consistent rushing attack, pressure has been greatly reduced for QB Cody Hawkins. The senior has completed 30 of 49 passes for 468 yards, with six touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back wins. As long as the Buffaloes are not one-dimensional, they can move the ball effectively and actually generate some explosive plays. WR Scotty McKnight is a dependable receiver with a knack for getting open. His experience will be a great asset against a Nebraska secondary considered to be the best in the Big 12. Moving the ball won't be easy. The Huskers have not allowed a touchdown over the last eight quarters, since a 31-30 overtime win at Iowa State on Nov. 6.
The meltdown Colorado experienced at Kansas on Nov. 6, when the Buffaloes allowed 35 fourth-quarter points and blew a four-touchdown lead over the final 11-plus minutes, apparently inspired the defense, especially with the pressure it generates. In back-to-back victories over Iowa State and Kansas State, the Buffs recorded 15 sacks, raising their season total to 33. That is the most sacks recorded by Colorado since the 1995 team had 37. DE Josh Hartigan led the effort with three sacks against Kansas State, including one to stop a potential game-tying drive at the end.
Buffaloes: Colorado OT Nate Solder was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, presented each season to the nation's top interior lineman. Solder has played in all 797 snaps on offense for the Buffs this season and graded out to 92.9 percent. He has 10 touchdown blocks while giving up two sacks and three quarterback pressures out of Colorado's 370 pass plays. The 6-foot-9 senior started his college career as a tight end. ... One of the more interesting developments in the Colorado-Nebraska series came in 1990, when Nebraska coach Tom Osborne voted Georgia Tech No. 1 in the coaches poll, keeping Colorado from becoming the unanimous national champion after it carried the ballots in the AP media poll. Buffs interim coach Brian Cabral, a 22-year assistant with the Buffs, was on that staff headed by Bill McCartney. ... Colorado has won just eight times in 33 visits all-time to Nebraska ... Colorado has lost nine straight Big 12 road games and 15 straight road games overall.
Cornhuskers: Former Husker Ndamukong Suh will have his No. 93 jersey retired at halftime Friday. The winner of last year's Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award, Suh will join 16 other players to have their Nebraska jerseys retired, as all major national award winners at Nebraska automatically have their jerseys retired. ... Nebraska has been penalized 86 times for 797 yards this season. In Big 12 games, the Huskers have been penalized 57 times for 503 yards, compared to opponent totals of 29 for 266. Under third-year coach Bo Pelini, Nebraska has been among the nation's most penalized teams. ... Starting QB Taylor Martinez is questionable after re-injuring his right ankle against Texas A&M. His left foot was also in a walking boot on Monday (the result of a toe injury), but coaches said the ankle remains the most concerning issue. Coach Bo Pelini also doused rumors that Martinez had quit the team or been suspended after a sideline confrontation Saturday night between Martinez and Pelini. ... Nevertheless, backup QB Zac Lee has been taking more repetitions in practice after missing the last three games because of a hand injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
RB Rodney Stewart -- After carrying 36 times for a career-best 195 yards against Kansas State, Stewart said he relished the workload and asked for even more. He rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another against the Wildcats and was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
WR Scotty McKnight -- McKnight became Colorado's all-time leader with 22 touchdown receptions and still enjoys the longest active streak in the NCAA for games with at least one reception at 47. He holds the Colorado record for all-time receptions (212) and needs just 38 yards to break the yardage mark of Michael Westbrook (2,548).
QB Cody Hawkins -- Hawkins needs just 130 yards passing to become Colorado's all-time leader, as well as just 10 more completions. In his last three games, Hawkins has a passer rating of 162.43, going 59 of 93 for 790 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
RB Rex Burkhead -- Given Nebraska's instability at quarterback, it's likely Burkhead will operate the wildcat offense, perhaps with looks Nebraska hasn't shown this season. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard career rushing mark against Texas A&M.
LB LaVonte David -- He is the team's leading tackler, and still has a chance to meet or exceed Barrett Ruud's 2003 record for tackles in a season. David will be key against Colorado as the Huskers look to slow down the Buffs' revamped running game.
DE Jared Crick -- Crick has a team-high 7.5 sacks, pushing his career total to 17, and will be key figure in Nebraska's pass rush on Colorado QB Cody Hawkins.
S Deji Olatoye (forearm, questionable), CB Paul Vigo (leg, day-to-day).
QB Taylor Martinez (ankle, questionable), RB Roy Helu (calf, probable).