Like, I imagine, many Bulldog fans, I was initially disappointed when our bowl destination was announced. I had gotten myself all worked up over the prospect of going to the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 1983 and playing Texas, after which we could revise the answer to the time-honored taunt "What time is it in Texas?" to be a time much closer to midnight.
And, with all due respect to Kyle and his post last night, I am now over it.
We have been selected for the highest bowl in the SEC bowl pecking order outside the BCS, as our performance in the SEC Championship Game essentially demanded. And although our opponent was pounded in their conference championship game, they are no less of a good team than we were last year when we got pounded in our championship game.
So, let's take a look at this team against whom we're playing for the second time in the entire history of our program: the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The first thing you need to know is that, in spite of their performance on Saturday, Nebraska has, throughout the year, been the second-best Big Ten team, and the best one that is actually eligible for the postseason. This season, Nebraska played all of the other teams in the Big Ten that finished with at least 8 regular-season wins: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Northwestern. They went 3-1 against those teams, losing only to Urban Meyer's Buckeyes. Their only other loss of the season was in an away game to UCLA, who won the Pac-12 South and gave Stanford all they wanted in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Nebraska's offense matches up well against our defense, primarily due to the presence of the Bulldog defense's kryptonite: a mobile quarterback. Taylor Martinez is the Huskers' primary offensive threat, and he's a dang good one, too. Martinez has over 2,600 yards passing on the year and nearly 1,000 yards rushing. And in addition to Martinez's 1,000 yards, the Huskers have another 1,000 yard rusher in Ameer Abdullah, as well. In short, Nebraska has an offense that is very dangerous, and is well-matched against our defense's weaknesses.
But beyond even this year's matchup, we should be excited about seeing clash of great historical football programs. Nebraska's football team is one of college football's most historic blue-bloods. The Huskers have been playing football since 1890 (so, 2 years longer than Georgia), and they currently stand 4th in all-time wins among Division I-A football programs with 861 wins, 354 losses, and 40 ties (Georgia currently sits at 10th all-time).
NU has won 5 national championships and a whopping 43 conference championships over the years. They've been home to legendary coaches like Dana X. Bible, Fielding Yost, Bob Devaney, and Tom Osborne. Great players have taken the field for Nebraska, including Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, and Eric Crouch. Trev Alberts and Ndamukong Suh are former NU football lettermen, as are all-time greats Grant Wistrom and Roger Craig.
And then there's this...
perhaps my favorite Nebraska football highlight of all time:
Ah, there's nothing that can bring college football fans together like a treasured shared memory of embarrassing the Florida Gators on a national stage.
Nebraska is a great program with a heritage to be proud of. And they will also be bringing some strengths into this game of which we should rightly be wary. It's time to focus our sights squarely on the Cornhuskers, because we'll have a good fight awaiting us in Orlando on New Year's Day.