Bring on the SEC!
It’s been five years since Nebraska tangled with college football’s preeminent conference. That drought will apparently end on New Year’s Day. The Huskers are likely headed to the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl. An SEC opponent awaits in either place.
Chances are, it’s Arkansas, Georgia or South Carolina. My money’s on the Gamecocks in the Capital One (in Orlando). Steve Spurrier gets another shot at Nebraska, 16 years after Florida’s Fiesta Bowl humiliation.
Going toe-to-toe with a 10-2 SEC team may sound a little daunting, but it’s exactly the kind of measuring stick Nebraska fans should welcome. A bowl win over a team like South Carolina would be a huge confidence booster heading into 2012 (when NU should win the Legends Division if it can beat Michigan at Memorial Stadium).
Nebraska last faced an SEC foe in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day 2007. The Huskers outplayed Auburn, yet couldn’t convert offensive opportunities. (Considering what happened in 2007, I know it’s hard to believe, but the problem at the end of the ’06 season was Bill Callahan’s offense, not Kevin Cosgrove’s defense).
The past three seasons, NU faced Clemson, Arizona and Washington in bowl games — none were rated in the top 20. It’s time for a bigger stage. Nebraska vs. the SEC. Unlike a year ago, motivation shouldn’t be a problem.
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>> I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Unless Iowa becomes a top-15 program sometime soon, the Hawkeyes will never be the biggest game on Nebraska’s schedule. Of course, Kirk Ferentz could give the so-called rivalry a boost if he would, occasionally, try to score a touchdown.
>> Rex Burkhead wasn’t the only Husker hurdling defenders this weekend. Check out Roy Helu at Seattle — a highlight that Rex Grossman called “one of the most impressive runs I’ve ever seen.” Helu had a huge day, piling up 162 total yards. He did it against Pete Carroll, who said last week that he should’ve recruited Helu harder in high school. “You miss so many guys over the years, but we definitely missed on Roy,” said Carroll, who was at USC at the time.
>> Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune and Big Ten Network tweeted this gem Sunday:
“By the way, this crazy-arse BCS system is part of the reason why @cbfowler has 102,751 followers — and why networks love cfb reg season.”
That’s sort of like saying the reason I go to a Springsteen concert is because of the traffic jam outside the arena. Look at all these cars! He must be here because he loves waiting in parking lots! No, no, no. People don’t love college football because of the system, people love college football in spite of the system. We love the GAMES, plain and simple.
Yet every year at this time, a few playoff opponents use BCS controversy as evidence to support the status quo. If we didn’t have these debates, they say, people wouldn’t pay attention to college football. It’s laughable. Is the NFL somehow less popular because it determines its champion via playoff? Does anyone really think it’d be more entertaining if Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger sat on their couches and waited for computer rankings to decide the AFC’s Super Bowl representative?
>> Speaking of desperate attempts to defend the BCS, here’s Stewart Mandel’s excellent critique of the BCS mantra: “Every game counts.”
>> You know who might have a really interesting argument for inclusion in the BCS title game? Georgia. Bulldogs starting quarterback Aaron Murray tweeted this on Sunday:
“BCS makes no sense! If your not the best team in your conference(don’t win conference championship) then how can you be considered the best”
Georgia started the year 0-2 (losing to Boise State and South Carolina). It hasn’t lost since. If it beats LSU in Atlanta, it would have a similar argument to Colorado in 2001. The Buffs also were a two-loss team (with both losses early in the season) that came back and beat the top-ranked team in America (Nebraska) at the end of the year. Of course, Colorado won another big game the next week — against Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Let’s see how Saturday plays out. If Georgia somehow beats LSU by 14 points, it may be difficult for voters to put two SEC teams (neither of which won the conference) in the BCS title game.
>> Did Ferentz really take a knee at his 28-yard line trailing 10-0 with two timeouts and 27 seconds left in the first half, knowing Iowa would kick off to start the second half? OK, just checkin’.
>> Urban Meyer, who will reportedly take the Ohio State job any day now, may be a great coach. But he has zero credibility, says Pat Forde.
>> Who will Kansas find to replace Turner Gill? One of the hot names is Mike Leach. In fact, Sunday night the media caught wind of a private plane coming to Lawrence from Key West (where Leach resides). So a throng of reporters showed up at the airport — just to make sure Leach wasn’t on the plane. He wasn’t. But a family of five was. Imagine their surprise.
>> CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel on the mess at Syracuse. Jim Boeheim may be in big trouble.
>> How often do you see columnists calling for a coach’s head after one season? Check out John Feinstein going after Maryland’s Randy Edsall.
>> The NBA season will be 66 games long. It will begin on Christmas Day. You know what? That’s exactly how it should be every year. Let’s make it a tradition. Eighty-two regular-season games is too many.
>> This got lost in the weekend shuffle, but MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement hurts small-market teams like Kansas City.
>> With the football regular season over, I’ll be scaling back the Brunch Bites from five weekdays to three or four (depending on the week). The good news is, with fewer helpings, hopefully I’ll be able to make them a little more nutritious. As always, thanks for reading. And don’t hesitate to drop me an email.