Teacher endows Colorado’s Ralphie (Notebook)

Nicholas Collins

Take a good look at Colorado’s Ralphie the next time she charges onto the field — there might just be a smile shining through that buffalo beard. It’s because somebody up there loves her.

Ralphie became one of the richest mascots in college sports on Thursday when the Colorado Board of Regents voted unanimously to accept $40,729.88 from a benefactor.

Violet Stromberg, a teacher and Boulder native, bequeathed her entire life savings to Ralphie IV upon her death in June 2001. Stromberg was 96 years old.

“She was a lifelong CU football fan,” Colorado treasurer Judy Van Gorden told The Denver Post. “She decided she wanted to do this.”

Stromberg had no descendants.

The Ralphie Fund, as the endowment has been named, will ensure the financial security of Ralphie IV and her successors.

“This will provide growing support for Ralphie in perpetuity — not only for this Ralphie, but all future Ralphies,” Van Gorden said.

The Ralphie Fund will help pay for the buffalo’s health care, transportation costs and food bills. Ralphie IV, weighing in at more than 1,300 pounds, eats about $1,500 worth of oats, alfalfa and grass each year.

Ralphie IV came to Colorado as a gift from Ted Turner in 1998 when she was a 400-hundred-pound one-year-old. Ralphie IV — then named Rowdy — was rescued from the jaws of a coyote when she was one month old.

Horrible Huskers: Kansas State’s 49-13 win over Nebraska was the Cornhuskers’ worst loss to the Wildcats in 87 meetings.

The loss ensures the Cornhuskers (7-5, 3-4 Big 12) their first non-winning conference record since 1968, when they went 3-4 in the Big Eight. Nebraska’s five regular-season losses are the most since 1961, and the Cornhuskers still have to face the Big 12 north division winner, No. 17 Colorado (8-3, 6-1 Big 12), on Nov. 29.

Saturday’s loss gave Nebraska coach Frank Solich a 1-7 road record against ranked teams.

The Cornhuskers gave up 415 rushing yards last weekend, including 228 to Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson — a school record for a Wildcats signal caller.

Roberson also tallied the second-longest run ever against the Cornhuskers — bested by only Gale Sayers’ 99-yard run for Kansas in 1963 — with a 91-yard first-quarter touchdown dash.

“It looked like the Red Sea,” Roberson said. “I spotted the goal line, and I just ran away.”

Nebraska countered the Wildcats’ ground assault with just 97 yards rushing.

Cornhuskers quarterback Jammal Lord was sacked six times and had 21 yards on 47 carries.

“Anything is better than 97 yards rushing,” Nebraska center John Garrison said. “That’s just sick.”

Endzone Czars: Virginia Tech tailback Lee Suggs and Kentucky wide receiver Derek Abney both set NCAA touchdown records this week.

In the Huskies 21-18 loss to West Virginia on Wednesday, Suggs crossed the goal line in his 24th straight game.

His 28-yard touchdown run with 4:57 left in the second quarter broke former Arkansas tailback Bill Burnett’s 32-year-old record for consecutive games with a score. Suggs has 50 touchdowns during his streak.

Abney, a junior, put his name in the record books in Saturday’s 41-21 win over Vanderbilt, returning his sixth kick — a 95-yard kickoff run back — for a touchdown and setting a new NCAA single-season mark.

Abney’s four punt returns for touchdowns are also an NCAA single-season record. He holds the SEC record for most career kick returns for a touchdown as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.