Scott Frost is right, Nebraska and Colorado are ex-rivals. That doesn't mean they still don't like each other.
Frost and CU coach Mel Tucker know that the Buffs and the Bugeaters have new sets of rivals now. NU and CU were longtime rivals in the Big 7, Big 8 and Big 12. They played each year from 1948-2010. They were indeed conference rivals.
But the Cornpones left for the Big 10 in 2011, and CU left for the Pac-12 in 2012. They are no longer conference rivals. But they still can't stand one another.
Fusker fans can't stand that Colorado head coach Bill McCartney had the unmitigated gall to name them their #1 rival, and worse than that, managed to lead the Buffs to three wins and a tie from 1986-91.
That stretch broke a Nebraska dominance in Boulder that had run since the Eisenhower administration. Husker fans had become fond of their trips to beautiful Boulder, where they would gaze at the mountains, stink up all the bars and restaurants with cigarette smoke, win another game and then offer their smarmy condolences to the CU faithful.
Those were the good old days to the red horde. Then Colorado had the temerity to start winning. Those smarmy condolences quickly turned to seething hatred. They loved Colorado and their fans as long as they were winning damn near always. When Colorado became a Top 10 team, and winning was no longer a foregone conclusion, they started accusing Colorado fans of being bad sports and ungracious winners.
Nebraska long cultivated the reputation of gracious winners. They had rarely been forced to deal with losing. And when it started happening with some frequency, they exposed themselves to be some of the absolute worst poor-sport losers in college football.
When Colorado quarterback Sal Aunese died of cancer in 1989, Nebraska's "classy" fans painted the highway at the Colorado-Nebraska border with the infamous "Sal is Dead! Go Big Red!"
They tried to blame that on one bad apple, but they also sold bumper stickers with the same disgusting slogan.
And it wasn't just the fans. Legendary coach Tom Osborne (aka Kernel Tom in Lincoln), was so petty and angry after Colorado coach Bill McCartney beat him to winning a national championship, that he left Colorado OFF of his final UPI Coaches Poll ballot. His childish action deprived CU of a unanimous title.
It's a culture of football worship in Nebraska. In Colorado, it's just a game. That's why the Husker Nu's got so angry when Colorado was no longer just an easy win.
In reality, though, those days are long gone. Also long gone are the days of annual Fusker dominance. From 1969 to 2001, the Cornholers finished the season ranked in the top 25. In 25 of those years, they finished ranked in the Top 10. Pretty darn impressive.
Then, in 2001, something happened that shook the Nebraska faithful to their very cobs. They were ranked #1 in the country when they arrived in Boulder to play Colorado. They left with their tails between their corn stalks after losing 62-36. Nebraska hasn't been the same ever since.
That 26 point loss to Colorado was something Red Horde never thought they would see. In their eyes, Nebraska was supposed to always be on top in those kinds of games. Unfortunately for the kernels, it was just the beginning.
In 2002, the Corn lost to Penn State by 33, Iowa State by 22, and to Kansas State by 36. They finished 7-7 and out of the Top 25.
In 2003, NU lost at home to Kansas State by 29 and at Texas by 24.
In 2004, the Holers lost by 60 to Texas Tech. They also lost by 24 to Kansas State and by 27 to Oklahoma.
2005: Lost by 25 to Kansas!
2007 was a very bad year in Husker land. They finished 5-7. They lost by 35 to Missouri, by 31 to Oklahoma State, and 37 to Kansas. Then they finished the season by giving up 65 points to Colorado.
2008: Lost by 35 to Missouri and by 34 to Oklahoma.
2011: Their first conference game in the Big 10 was a 31 point loss to Wisconsin. Michigan later beat them by 28.
2014: Another 35 point loss to Wisconsin.
2015: An odd year, the Fuskers lost 7 times, but six of the losses were by 5 points or less. Or what delusional NU fans would say, a sign that they are a Top ten team… almost.
2016: The horde were shocked when Ohio State destroyed their team 62-3. All of sudden, that 62-36 loss to Colorado didn't seem so bad. Iowa also beat them by 30. (An interesting tidbit, I talked to a Nebraska fan this week, and he felt that Ohio State fans were the worst! I guess giving up 62 points to any team makes their fans the worst.)
2017: A 42 point LOSS at home to Ohio State, a 33 point loss at Minnesota, and yet another 42 point loss at home to Iowa.
2018: The Scott Frost era in Lincoln starts off 0-6. Colorado wins in Nebraska, and Michigan hands the Hucksters a 46 point loss.
The CU-Nebraska game will start in about 40 hours. One team will win and one will not. Both teams have struggled over recent years. In fact, since 2015, Colorado has a better record than Nebraska. Can you imagine?
The ex-rivals will play, but both are now just struggling to get back to bowl eligibility. They want this game, for sure, but they know their paths back to respectability go through their newer rivals in the Big 10 and Pac-12. A win or a loss to an old rival matters little if neither team can manage to win enough conference games to make it to the postseason.
Both teams face a gaggle of ranked teams this season. Both coaches would trade a loss on Saturday for three wins over ranked teams in conference play and a bowl game at the end of the season.