Keeler: CU Buffs need to declare USC, not Utah, their Pac-12 rival

The great rivalry, om paraphrase the noted historian Eric “Otter” Stratton, require a really meaningless and stupid gesture on someone’s part. And the Buffs are just the guys to do it.

Can’t you steal Traveler? Fine.

Get out with his saddle.

Write a ransom note.

Say to the men of Troy, ‘Do you want it back? You’ll have to beat us, butt. “

When it’s USC week, – okay, discourage strong – prohibit wearing a cardinal around Boulder from Sunday through Saturday. Easy. Faithful buffs are already familiar with this exercise.

Start a Twitter war with Will Ferrell. Give Matt Leinart the mother of all wedgies. Re-meet USC athletic director Mike Bohn, former CU AD. Something. Something. If you can’t think of a reason to hate at Heritage Hall, give University Park a reason to hate you. Light a match, cover your ears and let the fireworks fly.

“I think they should point to USC and say, ‘You’re our rival,'” suggested former CU quarterback and Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt. Like CU did with Bill McCartney and Nebraska at one point. I think that’s going to be important. “

Can we be real CU fans? A decade in this Pac-12 arrangement, this we-hate-Utah-because-Larry-Scott-told-us-to-vibe does not stick. The Buffs-Utes “rivalry” feels like an arranged marriage of geography and political convenience, telling the new boys to play in the corner and leave the rest of the cool kids alone.

It’s time to take on the coolest guy on the block.

Yes, it sounds crazy. But they said McCartney was crazy too four decades ago when he threw a metaphorical spit ball at the Nebraska Cornhuskers – at a time when the Big Red was Alabama North and not Purdue West – and drew a line just east of Alvin to Nebraska to challenge. coach Tom Osborne to cross it.

From 1962-81, a generation, Nebraska won or shared 11 Big Eight titles. The Buffs split one, in 1976, over the same period. By the summer of 1982, the Big Red had defeated CU 14 consecutive times and 19 out of 20. In four scraps of 1978-81, Nebraska had defeated CU with an average score of 49-8.

Although Osborne seemed somewhat baffled by the whole thing, McCartney was deadly serious, as is a big brother when his baby declares war.

Even if his own staff thought it was a bit crazy, even if the hatred was completely one-sided at first, it got to the point where Buffs players believed it. Not only believed it, but passed that hatred on from class to class like a treasured heirloom.

“It was a daily mission,” said Michael Westbrook, former CU All-American wide. “When we were in the weight room or at recruitment meetings, it was: ‘How are we going to beat Nebraska? ”

It took five seasons, and lots of bins hate a show’s DNA, but the worm eventually began to change. In October 1986, CU defeated Nebraska for the first time since 1967. The teams split the next four matchups, with the Buffs winning back-to-back meetings in 1989 and 1990 – the program’s first consecutive wins over the Big Red since 1960 and 1961 .

The problem with throwing a recyclable material in Oregon that swings the Pac-12’s biggest stick is that the Buffs don’t play the ducks every fall. And while Utah may share our border with the west, hardcore Utes prefer to save their best bile for BYU and the Holy War.

In terms of profile, USC is an ideal target for boxing: it has an iconic brand, regional cache, legendary traditions, national championships, Heisman winners, pathos and, like Nebraska, a fan base that haunts all sorts of hubris.

And just like the Huskers of yore, they’ve had the Buffs too in a rear naked narrowing, despite Clay Helton’s best efforts to loosen that grip. The Men of Troy are 14-0 all time against CU, 9-0 since the Buffs became Pac-12 brothers. Though three of the last five confrontations have been decided by four points or less, including that gut of a 35-31 Trojans victory over Folsom in late October last year.

“If I were Colorado, I would do it like this,” Klatt said. “I would point to USC and say, ‘We’re going to fight with you on the recruitment path, we’re going to fight with you on the field. You’re the benchmark on the Pac-12, and we’re coming after you. ”

Sometimes you don’t know if you can win a dang fight unless you choose it. When Mac called the Big Red, experts struck. Husker fans laughed.

Many of them still do. Until you point to the scoreboard.