Nebraska, Colorado to decide North title

Friday, November 23, 2001

BOULDER, Colo. -- Every time he buckles on his helmet, Eric Crouch accounts for nearly half of Nebraska's offense. And you never know where it's coming from.

The Cornhuskers are averaging 442 yards per game this season, and Crouch is contributing 206 yards to that figure when his passing (119) and rushing (87) are combined.

He has thrown seven touchdown passes and has run for 16 in befuddling opposing defenses and giving game-planners migraines.

No. 14 Colorado, which entertains No. 2 Nebraska today in a game that will decide the Big 12 North champion and a spot in the league's championship game on Dec. 1, knows that -- above all -- it has to account for Crouch.

Last year against Colorado, Crouch suffered through a poor passing day. But, with the game on the line in the final minute, he completed 4-of-5 passes to set up Josh Brown's 29-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Huskers a 34-32 win.

"That's what great competitors do," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said of Crouch. "He had a sore shoulder, but with the adrenaline pumping, it was not as sore in those last 47 seconds as it had been."

Crouch also ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns in that game, producing 264 total yards himself on what was, for him, an off-day.

"It won't be the first time this year we've seen this kind of speed or this kind of productivity at the quarterback position," Barnett said. "He just happens to be surrounded by a lot more offense and many more good players."

The Huskers (11-0, 7-0 Big 12) have been No. 1 for four straight weeks in the Bowl Championship Series ratings. Wins against Colorado and in the Big 12 title game would lock up one of two spots in the Rose Bowl, which will decide the national title.

The Buffaloes (8-2, 6-1) have overcome considerable adversity to get this far, losing their starting quarterback (Craig Ochs), their best defensive player (linebacker Jashon Sykes) and their top receiver (John Minardi) to injuries.

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