Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Win Over Colorado Means A Date With Florida State?

If Nebraska Beats Colorado On Friday it appears they will be off to Jacksonville to play Florida State in the Gator Bowl.

From The Lincoln Journal Star

A three-win Syracuse team may have delivered Nebraska a big push toward an appearance in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

With a lame-duck head coach, Syracuse upset Notre Dame 24-23 in South Bend on Saturday, providing a boost to the Huskers’ chances of being picked to play in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Jan. 1.

“As I told you last week, I love the fact Nebraska’s back,” said Rick Catlett, president of the Gator Bowl Association, on Saturday night. “Bo Pelini has got them playing unbelievably good. Of the teams they’ve lost to, three of them are battling for a Big 12 championship. It’s the Big Red, you know, 85,000 every week. The tradition and history of Nebraska would be appealing.”

If the Huskers do end up securing a Gator Bowl bid, one of the leading candidates to be their opponent is Florida State. Catlett said Saturday the 8-3 Seminoles “would be our No. 1 option” out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Florida State and Nebraska have met four times in bowl games — all between the 1987 and 1993 seasons and all won by the Seminoles.

Notre Dame and Nebraska have been prominent in discussions about teams that Gator Bowl representatives might choose as the opponent opposite a team from the ACC — the conference the bowl game is tied into.

It was figured coming into the weekend that Notre Dame would beat Syracuse and lose its final game, a road contest to Southern Cal, to finish the regular season at 7-5.

In its 63-year history, the Gator Bowl has never invited a five-loss team, but reps of the bowl game seemed open to the idea this year, especially if Notre Dame and its heavy pull were part of the equation.

But now the Irish are likely to finish 6-6, barring a major upset of USC. A Husker win against Colorado on Friday, meanwhile, would have NU at 8-4.

“We’re very much interested in Nebraska and Missouri,” Catlett said. “You can’t rule out Notre Dame if it were to figure out a way to beat Southern Cal. Conventional wisdom is they wouldn’t. And I don’t believe we would consider a 6-6 team.”

While Catlett mentioned Missouri as a possible candidate, the Huskers seem to stand a much better chance of going to the Gator Bowl than the Tigers.

Missouri has a date in the Big 12 championship game. Either the Tigers will win that game to become eligible for a BCS game or they’ll suffer a loss that could damage enthusiasm in the fan base about making a bowl trip all the way to Jacksonville.

Said Catlett: “The loser of a championship game is usually not very excited, not very pumped up about traveling.”

Nebraska hasn’t played a bowl game in Florida since the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 1998. Going into this weekend, many considered the Sun Bowl as the most likely destination for NU with the Gator and Alamo bowls as possibilities.

The Gator Bowl has the third pick of ACC teams — behind the BCS conference representative and whatever team the Peach Bowl takes. If FSU is not chosen for this bowl, other possibilities range from Clemson to Georgia Tech to Virginia Tech. But the Hokies would probably not be selected if Nebraska is on the other end given the teams’ previous meeting this year.

The game in Jacksonville has a New Year’s noon kickoff (central standard time) and is televised by CBS.

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