Amid Controversy, Cornhuskers Back Into Rose Bowl

Roderick Daniels
El Vaquero Staff Writer

After seeing the top five teams in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) poll lose in the final three weeks of the season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers sneaked in the back door of the Rose Bowl to face the Miami Hurricanes (11-0) Jan. 3.

First the Cornhuskers (11-1) lost 62-36 to the Colorado Buffalos on Nov. 23. The next day, the Oklahoma Sooners lost to rival Oklahoma State 16-13. On Dec. 1, the second-ranked Florida Gators lost to the fourth ranked Tennessee Volunteers 34-32, and the third-ranked Texas Longhorns lost to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship 39-37, and on Saturday, the Volunteers, now ranked second, lost in the SEC Championship game 31-20 to the LSU Tigers. Had they won, they would have gone to the Rose Bowl.
With Tennessee losing, that was enough to put Nebraska into the Rose Bowl. However, this comes with a smidge of controversy. The Buffalos say they should get to play in the Rose Bowl because they beat Nebraska, and won the Big 12 conference, while the Cornhuskers didn’t make the championship game and finished third in the conference.

But, the Buffalos seem to forget that they lost to Fresno State 24-22 on Aug. 26, and to the Longhorns 41-7 on Oct. 20. Also, Colorado didn’t reschedule a game with Washington State that was postponed because of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Cougars are ranked 13th in the BCS, and if the Buffalos had beaten the Cougars their strength of schedule would have risen, and they would have overtaken Nebraska for No. 2 in the BCS.

The BCS is designed to reward the two teams who have played the best football for the entire season, as was the case for Nebraska, rather than for two weeks as was the case for Colorado.
The team that was forgotten, and that has the real complaint, is the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks (10-1) are the Pac-10 champions, and their only loss came to Stanford, which finished the season at 9-2, and ranked ninth in the BCS. The Ducks had two weeks off from their Nov. 10 game against UCLA, and in those two weeks, had fallen in the BCS poll. With the losses by Florida and Tennessee, they rose to the No. 2 ranking in the AP top 25 poll, but finished fourth in the BCS poll.

Even the Cougars of BYU thought they had a claim to play in the Rose Bowl. They were 12-0 when it was announced that they would not be playing in a BCS game, and they had threatened to sue the BCS. BYU did not play a ranked team all season, and struggled against 2-9 Wyoming, and 4-7 UNLV. This all turned out to be a moot point when the Hawaii Warriors bested the Cougars 72-45 on Saturday.
Speaking of Hawaii, how does a team that finishes 9-3, defeating two nationally ranked teams (Fresno State and BYU) not make a bowl, while 5-6 North Texas does?

When Nebraska and Miami meet in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3 for the National Championship, it will be the first time since 1946, when USC played Alabama, that teams from the Big-10 and PAC-10 conferences will not play each other in the Rose Bowl. It will also be the 10th time in the 88 years that the game will not be held on New Year’s Day.

This will be the fourth time that Nebraska and Miami have met for the National Championship. The three previous games have been in the Orange Bowl. Miami won the first two with a 31-30 win in 1984 and 22-0 in 1992. Nebraska defeated Miami 24-17.