It was Joe Mixan's first and only time in Boulder, Colorado. On Oct. 28, 1995, the Nebraska Athletic Department photographer shot pictures of the Nebraska football team's game against the Buffaloes at Folsom Field.

As well as capturing the energy of the Huskers, who went on to win that day and every game that season, Mixan took photos of the fans.

"The team was coming out, and I noticed this guy standing there with a Nebraska plate that says 'BEAT CU,' and so, of course, I had to shoot that," he said.

Twenty-three years later, and just a few days before Nebraska played Colorado again, Mixan came across the photo on his desk when looking at pictures from that era. He posted the photo to his Facebook page with a goal in mind: to identify the man and re-create the picture.

"Anyone have any information about this man?" Mixan asked. "Please let me know."

Within 15 minutes, the man was identified as Jim "Bucky" Buchanan, a 73-year-old from Omaha. After getting in contact with each other, the two decided to go through with the plan.

The original picture went viral on social media, with more than 13,000 reactions, 3,700 shares and comments from people expressing interest in seeing the re-created photo.

"I never expected it to blow up, but I guess I put a little bit of a challenge out there for Husker fans, and I think they're just so eager to play this first game finally," Mixan said. "They just kind of grabbed on to it."

Buchanan, who grew up in Hartington, has attended Husker games since 1959. Saturday's game against Colorado was his 322nd home game, with 61 away games under his belt.

The origins of the license plate came from Buchanan's observations of Colorado fans while attending away games in the mid-'70s.

"I've always had a good time, but whenever I'd go to the Colorado game, away, we haven’t been treated very nice," he said.

The "BEAT CU" plate hadn't always been about beating Colorado; it was originally aimed at Oklahoma. In preparation for the 1995 Colorado game, the right side of the "O" was painted over by Buchanan's wife, Dotti, who passed away a year ago.

"Dotti painted it, and that's really how it turned out so nice, because of her skill," Buchanan said. "She was quite a painter."

Buchanan was aware of the attention his plate was drawing, as his picture had been taken before at the game. One picture was included in a special collector's edition of Sports Illustrated that year.

"(The plate) pretty much was a one-time occurrence. I really hadn't done it with Colorado, at least before," Buchanan said. "And then it appeared on the internet this week and it kind of went viral from there."

After posting the picture on Facebook, Mixan was left wondering if the subject of his photo was even still alive.

"Somebody commented that maybe the last 20 years of Nebraska football had killed the guy," he joked.

But after someone commented on the picture, tagging Buchanan's daughter, Mixan found the Husker fan he was looking for.

As the two talked, they discovered connections. Buchanan had worked with Mixan's brother and knew some of his cousins.

Before taking photos for NU, Mixan had taken pictures while a walk-on football player for the Huskers in 1984. After telling Buchanan he was having dinner with former Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride and his wife Wednesday, he was surprised to find out that Buchanan had met the two on a trip to Ireland.

"So, I told him after dinner, we might stop at another place to have a drink, and if you want to stop by and say hello to Charlie, that's great," Buchanan said. "And so, he did, and he brought his license plate. And they did remember each other."

As for the attention he's received on social media, and in the real world, Buchanan said he's flattered. He said it's the unification of Husker fans that caused the picture to get so much attention.

"There's so many Husker fans around the world, around the country, and here in the state that it’s really amazing to see, and I realize it's because we have such a wonderful fan base here that it's exploded like that," Buchanan said. "I enjoy the attention, but it’s really more about Nebraska fans."

Photos from Saturday's game

Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or cspilinek@journalstar.com.