CU's Brain Lockridge (20) goes head over heels during a kickoff return after a hit by Nebraska's Thomas Grove (41) during Friday's game at Folsom Field.
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Kerry Carter came from a divided family. Her dad was a die-hard Nebraska Cornhusker fan, and her mom cheered unabashedly for the Colorado Buffaloes.
When they died, Carter said, she got both of her parents' sets of season tickets -- one for the games in Nebraska's Memorial Stadium and one for the games in Folsom Field.
"I sell the Nebraska tickets for gas," Carter, 56, said moments before Ralphie the Buffalo romped onto the football field Friday for the University of Colorado game against the University of Nebraska.
The home game was sold out, and while CU had a good turnout -- even many of the vacationing students showed up -- much of the north stands were blanketed in Husker red.
Shouts of "Go Big Red! Go Big Red!" at times drowned out chants of "Go CU!" Hundreds of Husker fans drove for hours to witness one of college football's most contentious rivalries.
The two football teams first squared off in 1898, but the match-up grew into a true rivalry in the 1980s under head coach Bill McCartney.
"This is the biggest game of the year," said Carter, who drives 200 miles to Boulder from Julesburg for every home Buffalo game. Even when she lived in Lincoln, Neb. -- which is 500 miles from Boulder -- Carter said she never missed a CU home game.
"I don't care if we lose all of them; Nebraska is still a big game," she said.
Since 1980, Nebraska has won 22 of 29 games against CU. After Friday's 28-20 Buffalo loss -- capping off a disappointing season for CU -- Nebraska leads the series 48-18, with two ties.
But CU fans always come to the games with great expectations.
CU junior Sawyer Hamilton, 20, was optimistic Friday, but he was looking ahead to next season. Hamilton said he supports CU's decision to keep head coach Dan Hawkins for at least one more year rather than buy out his contract for more than $3 million. Next year has to be better than this year's dismal 3-9 record, Hamilton said.
"We can't be impatient about it," Hamilton said. "If we can get our chemistry behind Hawkins, we'll be alright."
Regardless, Hamilton said, he and his buddies will keep painting themselves and showing up early to get front-row spots at CU home games. On Friday, Hamilton and six other students wore black paint from their hairlines to their waistlines and painted gold letters on their chests to spell out "GO CU BUFFS."
"If it's 20 (degrees) or above, we paint up," he said, acknowledging their good fortune with temperatures in the 60s and clear skies Friday.
It's partly Boulder's beautiful setting and often-sunny weather that brings Josh Erlandson, 22, and his Husker-faithful crew to town time and again for the conference game.
"CU isn't good, but every year it's always close," said the Nebraska law student.
Longtime CU fan Bob Jamieson, 40, of Denver, said he feels bad for all the Nebraska fans -- especially those who live in Colorado.
"So many people from Nebraska live here and love this state, but they stay true to a team that is a complete fraud," Jamieson said. "I don't hate Nebraska. I just don't appreciate Nebraska."
Dave Mcallister, 39, of Loveland, was more candid about his feelings.
"As Colorado natives, we can't stand Nebraska," he said.
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