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By: Associated Press
Brooks: When Bo Shouts/Chews, Huskers Listen
Release: November 23, 2009
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
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BOULDER - Football seasons, national rankings and BCS positions have ridden on past Nebraska-Colorado games. Friday's game at Folsom Field isn't shouldering anything so weighty . . . is it?

The Cornhuskers already have clinched the Big 12 Conference's North Division title, the Buffaloes have clinched their third bowl-less season in the past four.

The Huskers have a date with South Division champ Texas in Dallas on Dec. 5, the Buffs have a date with whomever they can speed-dial between semesters.

So what motivates 8-3 Nebraska, and how big a hit would the Huskers' Big 12 title game momentum take with a loss to 3-8 CU?

Probably not the best lead-off question to throw at Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, but it was tossed his way anyway on Monday at his weekly press conference.

Bo's answer: "I don't even want to talk about that. I know what we have in front of us. I know it's going to be a challenge. I know we have to play good football. I fully expect to go win this football game.

"Texas - that means nothing to me right now. The only thing that matters to this football team is Colorado. I told our people in the offices (and) the coaching staff I don't want to hear about plans, about travel plans, about tickets or anything else about the Big 12 title game.

"That means nothing. That time will come. Our full focus is on Colorado."

If you watch Pelini on the sidelines - and TV cameras will make sure you get plenty of chances - you come away knowing Bo can be, ah, fiery and wild-eyed. And that he loves his chewing gum.

Regardless of what message Pelini sends when he and his Juicy Fruit are in a player's face, give him this: He has his team's attention and Nebraska's program pointed North - pun intended.

When Texas Tech visited Lincoln last month and left with a 31-10 victory, the Big Red faithful were steamed. When Iowa State followed up with a turnover-marred 9-7 win in Lincoln, a meltdown of China Syndrome proportions seemed imminent.

How did Pelini and the Huskers react?

By reeling off four consecutive wins and, with the most recent one (17-3 against Kansas State), solely claiming the North for the fifth time - the first outright under Pelini, who in two seasons is 8-1 in games played on Nov. 1 or later.

It might sound like coach-speak when Pelini says of CU, "I see a team that's very capable. They have some good talent. At times they have played really well. They've struggled with some inconsistency.

"It's their last game of the year and they have a lot to play for. I know we're going to get their best shot. It's a challenge."

That is his message to the Huskers this week. Bet on them listening.

HOW GREAT THOU (THEY) ART: CU coach Dan Hawkins knew the questions were coming - the ones about his future. The questioners also should have known which answers were coming.

To every query Monday about his job status (and by my count there were three) Dan Hawkins answered by explaining how "excited the Buffs are to be playing Nebraska," then adding that the CU high command - Athletic Director Mike Bohn, Chancellor Phil DiStefano and President Bruce Benson - "all have been great."

Several Buffs have been asked over the last couple of days whether they believe they will be playing for their coach's job on Friday. 

This was sophomore right guard Ryan Miller's Monday take: "I don't feel like that, and I sure hope that's not the case. You have to play for the people around you - those guys behind you and beside you.

"Our coaches have done all they can; it's up to us now to get it together and play well. I know we're going to play well; I just hope we can play at the level we're capable of."

TALKING THE TALK: Nebraska week usually brings out the big names in Buffsville.

On Sunday, the Buffs heard from former CU coach Bill McCartney. On Monday, they heard from former all-conference outside linebackers Kanavis McGhee (1988-90) and Chad Brown (1991-92).

Brown addressed the team over the noon hour, McGhee after practice. Each was well-received.

Miller said Brown spoke on "opportunity and regret, and taking today for today," McGhee on "the tradition of being a Buffalo and knowing what it means to put on the jersey. Both of those guys were outstanding."

SECOND TIME AROUND: It might have sounded like a fresh sound bite Monday when Dan Hawkins said if he had to do it over again, he wouldn't encourage his son, Cody, to attend CU.

"No . . . it wouldn't be fair to him," Dan Hawkins said, calling the junior quarterback a "good player and a great kid. You're going to take some of the good with the bad . . .

"Here's a guy who's trying to do his best and win games and does everything right and is a good student . . . he's getting killed on Facebook and getting killed on his cell phone. You know what I mean?

"The great thing about this job is you meet some unbelievable people, some unbelievable people . . . but you also see a side of humanity that's not real fun."

Dan Hawkins spoke in depth on the subject (click on Monday's press conference on CU.Buffs.com to watch/hear the entire transcript), but it wasn't the first time he addressed it publicly.

In a sit-down interview earlier this month with a Denver TV station, Dan Hawkins said Cody coming to CU to quarterback the Buffs wasn't in his son's best interest, and in retrospect, he would have steered him elsewhere.

NON-GOVERNMENT BAILOUT: CU fans might never forget the Nebraska school-record 57-yard field goal by Alex Henery that pushed the Cornhuskers ahead of the Buffs 33-31 last season in Lincoln (Nebraska won 40-31).

Pelini won't forget the kick either; a former walk-on, Henery was awarded a scholarship at season's end.

Said Pelini of making that decision: "Well, when he made that 57-yarder . . . I think it became pretty clear to me. He bailed my butt out. I tried everything I could to lose that football game and he bailed me out. He earned it right there, in my mind."

Henery, a junior who also has a 41.4-yard average punting, has hit 16 of 19 field goal attempts and all 31 of his extra point tries this season.

BUFF BITS: Dan Hawkins said he expects Nick Kasa to be available Friday and it appears that plans to seek a medical redshirt for the freshman defensive end have fallen through . . . . Also expected to play is linebacker B.J. Beatty, who sat out the Iowa State and Oklahoma State games with a concussion . . . . Pelini's two-season record at Nebraska is 18-7. A win Friday would give him back-to-back nine-win seasons in his first two years as a head coach . . . . The Cornhuskers own a 22-10-2 series advantage in Boulder and have won six of the past eight meetings at Folsom Field. However, CU won 65-51 in 2007.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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