Things seem rather weird right now. Nebraska is done with the Big 12 football, yet has several months to go before we're officially members of the Big Ten. We still have to get through winter and sprint sports before that happens. Reality is, it's a long ways away yet. The world could explode before that happens, or the earth could be taken over by superior alien beings who turn us into slaves and force us to entertain them by playing their favorite sport involving cooked pasta and stuffing live chickens.
We've still got a full two weeks to go before Nebraska's appearance in the Holiday Bowl against Washington which leaves a lot of time before we need to start covering the game.
As for the upcoming bowl games - I've long been one of those guys that's a conference rooter. I've spent most of my bowl seasons hoping that the Big Eight/Big 12 did well, as if there's a trophy for that.
Now, I'm stuck considering the possibilities:
- Start rooting for Big Ten teams because we are done with the Big 12
- Stick with the teams I've known most of my life
- Face that fact that I've hated most the Big Ten for years and my whole concept of "rooting for the conference" needs to be re-evaluated, i.e., killed as something obsolete, something that will die along with Nebraska's life in the Big 12.
There are three bowl games which feature Big 12 vs Big Ten schools - these will challenge my
Insight Bowl - Missouri vs Iowa
I hate Iowa, have for years, and I can't wait to start that hate here on Corn Nation. On the other hand, Missouri got the bowl bid we wanted and they stuck us with playing a team we'll play three times in a year. On the other hand, I don't believe I could ever root for Iowa in anything regardless of what's at stake, and I don't hate Missouri as much as most Nebraskans.
Given my heavy hatred of the Iowa Hawkeyes, I'll be pulling for Mizzou in this one despite them stealing what could have been a great chance to start a rivalry with Iowa several months early.
Texas Bowl - Illinois vs Baylor
I've never liked Illinois despite there being much reason for it. Nebraska has played them nine times, with a 6-2-1 record. You have to go all the way back to 1924 to find an Illinois win over Nebraska, and even then they needed one of the greatest football players of all time - Red Grange. Is that enough for my dislike? Perhaps it is.
Besides, it's Baylor's first trip to a bowl since 1994, so they're the emotional favorite. I can't root against Robert Griffin and the futility that's been Bear football.
If those aren't enough, consider it's Art Briles versus Ron Zook, and the scale bends way over in favor of Baylor.
TicketCity Bowl - Northwestern vs Texas Tech
For some reason, I've liked Tech for years, before they became fellow conference members. Maybe it's because they never beat us then. I've always liked Northwestern, too, and I can tell you why. Whenever I think of Northwestern, I think of their worst years. From 1979-1982, Northwestern lost 34 straight games and still owns the record for the worst losing streak in Division IA football.
That streak ended on Sept. 25th, 1982, when the Wildcats beat Northern Illinois 31-6. I remember reading how the Northwestern students tore down the goalposts, marched them to Lake Michigan and threw them in the lake while shouting "One In A Row!". I've always thought that was one of the greatest celebrations I've ever heard of - if I had a time machine, I'd make that one of the events I'd visit.
Nothing against you guys from Tech, but I'll be rooting for Northwestern in this one. Without Dan Persa, things don't look too good for the 'Cats, and they've won only one bowl in their history - the 1949 Rose Bowl in which they defeated Cal 20-14.
Maybe it's limbo, or maybe it's the start of a new trend for me not rooting for conference rivals. I don't think anyone in the Big Ten will hold it against me - they don't typically root for each other but maintain their hate no matter the game. It'll take some getting used to, the Big Ten way of doing things. Might as well start now.