You know, Loons, there is just something ::sigh:: magical about this week. You can feel it in the air: Two storied rivals. Two premier college programs. Two dedicated groups of fans who love their teams with a passion. But beyond that, they also respect each other, and enjoy the glory of competition -- oh, wait. That's the Oklahoma script. Sorry.

Oh yeah. Thanksgiving now means Colorado week. And you know what follows, Husker fans. Mmm-hmm. As a way of giving thanks for the First Amendment, Coloradans and Nebraskans mobilize their Verbal Militias, lobbing insults grenade-style across the border at each other. This is more inevitable than a Wal-Mart in downtown Kabul. And sooner or later, one of the groups starts using a certain word that is not appropriate in a family football column. The dialogue goes something like this -- I've replaced the aforementioned Bad Word with something acceptable ("drat"):

BUFF FAN: Hey Corn boy -- drat you! Nebraska dratting sucks!
HUSKER FAN: Yeah? Your sister drats buffaloes, you dratting drathead!
BUFF FAN: Drat off, motherdratter!

And so it goes, until late in the fourth quarter, when Nebraska's team rips out Gary Barnett's incredibly smart, media-savvy heart from his chest and stomps on it, sometimes even when time expires.

Still, this time of year, there's a lot of chirping over who has the better program, NU or CU. To determine this, one must look deep, deep inside the key facets of each school and, if necessary, write some of them down. Lucky you -- I've already gone to the trouble of doing so.

Let's examine the tale of the tape:

In their day, both Nebraska's Tom Osborne and CU's Bill McCartney were eager to give their team a dose of religion. Hell, that's nothing new -- even Howard Schnellenberger's godless, outlaw Miami Hurricanes said the Lord's Prayer at halftime of the '84 Orange Bowl. No, what's key to this comparison is to look at what each man has done since he's left the sideline. Bill campaigned for Promise Keepers, while Tom said he'd keep his campaign promises. And therein lies the difference between these two: McCartney once removed himself from a promising career to concentrate on Coloradans' religion, while Osborne removed himself from Nebraskan's main religion to pursue a promising career. That sacrifice alone is enough to push Tom over the top.
ADVANTAGE: Nebraska.

This is a toughie. In 1990, Colorado relied on a referee's oversight to score on an extra down to win over Misery, 36-33. The Buffs went on to claim a share of the national title. Seven years later, NU freshman Matt Davison caught a pass off Shevin Wiggins' size-9s to lead the Cornhuskers to a 45-38 victory over the Tiggers. NU also went on to get a share of the national title. To decide this one, one needs to merely look at the plays' respective nicknames. As far as Nebraska's goes, "Fleakicker" sounds pretty true to form; sort of a modern-day "Bugeater." But "Fifth Down?" That doesn't really say all that much. That is, unless you're asking a CU sorority girl how much Cuervo she's put away at a Tuesday night fraternity party.
ADVANTAGE: Nebraska.

Colorado has a Mangino-sized coffer full of these: Do It Fer Sal. Red Week. Samoan war drums. The Hey-Look-We're-Wearing-a-Different-Color-of-Pants ruse (This just in: Wearing matching colored pants as a motivational tool has officially gone from Passe Retro Novel back to Campy Retro Kitsch). Meanwhile, don't forget the Endangered Decal Ploy, which was actually Gary Barnett's way of saying he'd like to be considered for the Notre Dame job. Nebraska? Well, usually they motivate themselves by being in position for a national title, and not the Bowl. Not very flashy, I know.
ADVANTAGE: Colorado.

Not much to talk about here. Nebraska, a second-tier, land-grant university, is a fine school. Its greatest programs are agribusiness and, um, journalism. Meanwhile, a CU professor was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics after he and a colleague discovered particles of a new form of matter occurring at just a few hundred billionths of a degree above absolute zero. While the discovery is an beneficial discovery for mankind, it more importantly gives CU a three-particle lead on MIT. This tally alone makes up for the fact that Colorado folks continually have to be reminded what the "N" on Nebraska's helmet stands for.
ADVANTAGE: Colorado.

Much has been made about how Colorado's offensive and defensive schemes are designed to beat the Cornhuskers. But did you know that the University of Nebraska's current sideline distraction, Lil Red, was built with Colorado in mind, as well? If there is one game-day entity who could withstand a direct shot from a 2,000-pound, hard-charging live buffalo named Ralphie, it would be Lil Red. Hey, being a human airbag has its perks -- just ask Rush Limbaugh. And even though the Inflatable Hellspawn is completely useless for 364 days a year, there's always one afternoon each fall when Lil Red is the smartest-dressed dude on the field.

Ooh, another hard one. Both schools have their share of pompous boobs who obsess over a group of college jocks and live vicariously through them. But the fact is, four out of five Nebraska doctors say Colorado is not a rival. Man, that really rankles those pseudo-intellectual, faux-bohemian, poopacino-sipping smugmeisters in Boulder. It also prompts them to sweepingly declare Nebraska a barren, cultural wasteland whose residents have no lives outside the state university's football team. This is, of course, roughly as accurate as a Jeremy Aldrich field goal attempt. Also when forming this misguided assertion, Bluff fans tend to focus on the region of Nebraska that's closest to Colorado. Eastern Nebraska, meanwhile, is more classically Midwestern -- sort of like an uninteresting Iowa. Still, the barrage of non-football insults doesn't keep Nebraska backers from clapping for the Buffaloes when they visit. CU's fans? Well, they like to throw snowballs with rocks in them.
ADVANTAGE: Nebraska.

So there you have it. By a score of 3-2-1 -- which, by the way, sounds a lot like some of Colorado's mid-season won-loss records back in the 1990s -- the Cornhuskers squeak by the Buffaloes. Regardless of what happens at Folsom Field this Friday, this can be used as empirical proof of NU's ultimate superiority. And to those Buffalo fans who disagree: Drat you.

Red. White. Loon.
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