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Nov 23, 2004

BOULDER - In the heat of preparation for what will take place on the gridiron against Nebraska this Friday (10:00 a.m. MST, ABC), the University of Colorado football team received some rewarding news from the classroom Tuesday afternoon, as seven of its student-athletes were named to the 2004 Football Academic All-Big 12 Team.


Sophomore Brian Daniels, junior Tom Hubbard and redshirt freshman Dusty Sprague all garnered first-team honors for their academic efforts, while senior Terrance Barreau, junior Kyle Griffith, junior Evan Judge and senior Derek Stemrich were named to the second squad. 


With a grade point average of 3.20 or above, this year's first-team group upped Colorado's all-time first-team conference count to 128 players.  Through six seasons as head coach for the Buffs, Gary Barnett has helped produce 36 Academic All-Big 12 selections, including 15 first-team recipients. 


Majoring in business management, Judge is no stranger to the accolade, as he was named to the prestigious first-team list last year and to the second team in 2002.  An architecture major, Stemrich is also familiar with the honor, for he was a second team member in 2002.  Daniels (finance), Hubbard (accounting/finance), Sprague (business), Barreau (finance) and Griffith each make their first appearance on the all-academic list.


Second team members must own 3.00 to 3.19 GPA to qualify for the honor.


Practice Notes: With so much riding on Saturday's post-Thanksgiving showdown for both teams, the Buffs (6-4, 3-4 Big 12) drilled Tuesday and continued to focus on a Nebraska squad (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) desperate for a win.  Should CU emerge victorious at Lincoln's Memorial Stadium for only the eighth time ever, several things would happen:


 First and foremost, the Buffs would put themselves in a position to win the North Division and play for the Big 12 Championship against No. 2 Oklahoma on Dec. 4.  CU would require some help, however, as the Buffs would need Missouri to beat Iowa State this Saturday in order to reach the title game.


Next, Colorado's seniors would finish their careers with three wins over Nebraska ? something that hasn't been done by a group of upperclassmen since the 1990 senior class beat NU for the third time in five games.  This year's seniors were integral parts in CU's back-to-back 2001 and 2002 wins, and are now looking to add one more triumph to their r?sum?s.   


The Buffs are also aiming to eliminate the Huskers from postseason play for the first time in over three decades.  Nebraska has participated in an NCAA record 35-straight bowl games, and concocted a winning season 42 years in a row ? another Division I record.  Should both marks fall, the Buffs would avenge last season's 31-22 loss in Boulder, which kept CU home for the holidays.


"It's a big game," Barnett admitted this week.  "Shoot, everybody knows it.  This is a huge opportunity for us.  It's one of those games that I think the only thing I have to do is tell our players what time the bus leaves."


"It is an important game every year, no matter what the records are between the two teams," senior offensive tackle Sam Wilder added.  "This is one of the few games on our schedule that we have red-lettered because it is such an important game.  There is not a better way to finish the season than by beating Nebraska.


"We can still make our goal that we set out for at the beginning of the year, which is getting to the Big 12 Championship.  It is all right in front of us.  We just have to get some help from Missouri.  We'll see what happens, though.  But most importantly, we have to beat Nebraska first."


Added Colorado native (Niwot) and fellow senior captain Matt McChesney:  "I hate them and I bet they hate us.  There is so much at stake in this game.  It's a matchup of two teams that have had ups and downs this year, and it's definitely going to be a battle.  We've looked at this game as a crucial moment in our season ever since the year started, and now the time to shine is here.  It's time to strap it up and go."