The transition from the Big 12 conference to the Pac 12 conference has certainly not been an easy one for the Colorado football team. Not only have they been unable to find any real success in the new conference, but they are also without one of the most important aspects of college football: a true rival.
When the Buffaloes left the Big 12 in 2011, they were knowingly leaving behind a storied and well-documented rivalry with their next-door neighbors, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The two teams first met in 1898 and went head to head a whopping 68 more times before leaving each other for their respective conferences. With each new season, it was always a game that both teams made sure to mark on their calendars and one that eventually became established as an annual tradition.
After the formation of the Big 12 in 1996, the game between the two teams started taking place each year on the day after Thanksgiving. This sense of tradition made the rivalry all the more intense. Throughout their history together, Nebraska owns a profound series lead between the two teams, with an impressive record of 49-18-2. However, the last two decades have reinvigorated the rivalry, as almost half the games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
The rivalry is now on its way to being renewed, as the Buffaloes and Cornhuskers have agreed to a four-game contract that will take place over a six-year span. In 2018, the Buffaloes will make their first trip to Lincoln in almost eight years, followed by a 2019 return to Boulder. Following a brief three-year break, Boulder will host another game in 2023, with the series-ending matchup taking place in Lincoln the following year. Barring any bowl game matchup in which the two teams meet, which doesn’t seem likely, the Buffaloes will have to wait at least four more years to get their hands on their old rivals.
A new era in Colorado football has paved the way for new head coach Mike MacIntyre. In 2013, he was hired by the Colorado program to turn the team around. The mentality that he has brought to the group is that of a contender. If he can get each and every player to buy into his game plan, he may reinvent the Buffaloes as a competitor. MacIntyre has his work cut out for him, as the Buffaloes have gone a combined 8-29 in three seasons since joining the Pac 12 conference. If they want to compete with a powerhouse Nebraska program, they’ll have to address the issues that have plagued them the last few seasons.
After enduring devastating loss after devastating loss the last few years, the Colorado faithful are due for some excitement. The passionate Boulder fans have not yet given up hope on their Buffaloes. Now that an age-old rival is coming to town, will this historic rivalry reignite? Only time will tell if this four game stint will be the spark.
Combine upset after upset, mixed with a dash of bad blood and bragging rights, and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a college football rivalry.
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