Published Monday, December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm / Updated at 2:01 pm
FOOTBALL
Shatel: Husker bowl slot 'up in the air'

Better put your travel agent on hold.

The no-brainer that would be Nebraska's first game in Arizona since 1999 is anything but a lock. A source close to the Fiesta Bowl on Monday said “not so fast” about the Huskers playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Dec. 28.

Apparently the Fiesta Bowl staff, which runs the BWW Bowl, has not decided on a Big Ten opponent and is weighing Michigan as a possibility.

The source said the situation is “up in the air.” Bowl bids are announced on Sunday.

With either NU or Michigan, the BWW Bowl gets a big name. But there's no way Michigan would fill up Sun Devil Stadium — against a light-traveling school like Texas — the way Husker fans would. A Nebraska-Texas reunion would also be must-see TV.

So there's every possibility the Huskers could end up falling to the Gator Bowl (Jan. 1) or even the Texas Bowl (Dec. 27).

NU hasn't played in the Gator since the 2008 season. The SEC opponent would be key there. ESPN.com's SEC blog has Georgia in that game. The Huskers played the Bulldogs just last season. Plus, Georgia already plays Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., every year.

Cbssports.com's Jerry Palm has Vanderbilt in the Gator Bowl. Phil Steele's bowl projections have Nebraska going to the Texas Bowl (with Minnesota going to the Gator) to play Texas Tech.

Palm and ESPN.com's Big Ten blog both have NU going to Tempe, Ariz., to play Texas. We'll see. This is the last year the BWW will have a Big Ten team. Who do they want?

Nothing surprises me anymore with the bowls. In the last four years, NU has played in two bowls. Twice NU was sent to play a second consecutive game in the same bowl (Holiday 2009-10 and Capital One 2011-12).

Huskers, Horns and cactus make too much sense. What happens could be another story. Tell your travel agent to hold off until Sunday night.

» Which team is Creighton — the one that looked like a top 10 team against Arizona State or the one that deservedly fell out of the rankings against George Washington? The Jays are both. But they looked like a finesse team more than ever, with everything still revolving around making shots. Energy is much better when they go in. They better bring more of the Thanksgiving Night team when the Big East starts.

» And that Doug McDermott guy? Get him the ball at the end of the game. Even if he only has seven points, he's still Doug McDermott.

» I think I heard from every Husker fan in the state this weekend. Good to hear from you. Two very different takes on what's going on in Lincoln.

» I can't help but think Friday would have gone different if Shawn Eichorst had released that statement earlier in the week. I appreciate the A.D.'s policy, but ultimately he's responsible for the well-being of the football program. If he's got to step outside of his policy to take care of the program, he should do it.

» I'm already tired of the Ohio State-Auburn debate and it's only Monday. The Playoff can't get here soon enough. If it was this year, Missouri-Auburn would be for a spot in the playoff, and nobody outside Eskimo Joe's would complain that Oklahoma State didn't get in.

» Wyoming fired football coach Dave Christensen on Sunday and I wonder if it might have been different had the Cowboys won in Lincoln back on Aug. 31. One of the leading candidates for the job is Bob Stitt, the successful coach at Colorado Mines (of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Stitt is a native of Tecumseh, Neb., and played at Doane.

» We don't even let the confetti settle on a great game before we have to rank it. Some pundits are saying Auburn-Alabama on Saturday is the greatest finish to a college football game of all time. I suppose it qualifies because it was so unique, a field goal miss run back as opposed to a Hail Mary, like Doug Flutie over Miami in 1984. I'm not sure if it beats the Matt Davison catch, which was at the end of regulation. That was as improbable as it gets.

» Jim Larranaga's Miami team comes into Lincoln on Wednesday off a nice win over Arizona State. But the Canes might be just what Tim Miles' Huskers need: a big name to get their focus but a rebuilt offense shooting 41.5 and scoring 65.8 points per game. Miami baseball played here in 2005, now hoops. Next up: Miami football next September.

» Is Kansas City not as good as its record or did the Chiefs just lose to the best team in the AFC two of the last three weeks? Maybe both. No shame in losing to the Peyton Manning who threw those lightning bolts around Arrowhead Stadium. But K.C.'s offense clearly isn't good enough to keep up. Pack your bags for January.

» I've got a problem. I still want turkey.

» Bark for Sark. That was the slogan they were selling at Husky Stadium at Washington in 2010. Now Steve Sarkisian is a USC Trojan and on Monday said he was going “home.” That should make the dogs howl in Seattle.

» Big East volleyball champ Marquette was ranked No. 8 in the RPI but didn't get a national seed in the tourney. That's your Big East, Creighton. The Jays aren't complaining. They got sent close to home (but not Lincoln) and know Kansas and Wichita State well.

» UNO hockey couldn't be hotter, but the Mavs don't play a home game until Jan. 10 and only have eight home games left in the season. You wish somebody could have found a way to spread those North Dakota-Michigan-Miami (Ohio) series around.

» I'm not saying Brady Hoke is a sandbagger, but after that Ohio State game, Hoke will be giving a lot of strokes at the next Big Ten coaches golf outing.

» So Husker fans, you're going to root for Ohio State on Saturday night, right? Root for the Big Ten in the BCS chase? Hello? Anyone?

» Anybody have Missouri as the SEC East champ and No. 5 in the BCS before the season started? I'm sure the SEC types are proud. What's ironic is that Mizzou and Texas A&M just waltzed into the SEC and won a division, the Heisman Trophy and beat Alabama at home (A&M last year). Made it look easy.

» Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory are absolutely All-Big Ten. Next year, first-team All-American.

» One more and I'm outta here: Here's a tip of my old hat to Iowa football. The Hawkeyes deserved the win on Friday. That was a quality performance on Friday, probably Iowa's best win of the season. Kirk Ferentz had quite a turnaround in one year, likely back to a Jan. 1 bowl, and the Jake Rudock kid is only going to get better. Did you see the Hawks sprint across the field to grab the Heroes Trophy? They're embracing the series and the young rivalry. That win and that response pumped some life into this series.

Contact the writer: Tom Shatel

tom.shatel@owh.com    |   402-444-1025    |  

Tom Shatel is a sports columnist who covers the city, regional and state scene.

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