Oregon has figured out how to build the best resume to make into the college football playoff: schedule a home-and-home series against a consistently ranked team that never wins big games.
I'm sorry Husker fans, it's true.
With SEC teams canceling future series against major conference opponents left and right (Alabama-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Georgia Tech, Alabama-Michigan State), Nebraska was lucky not only to keep Tennessee in the long-term future, but to get three years notice from the Volunteers when they wanted to postpone their series with Nebraska in order to play Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway. Just look at the ACC late last year when they told their members they would be only be playing eight conference games in 2013 instead of the planned nine. Big props to Tennessee.
While a lot could change in three years (Bo Pelini could leave Nebraska, we don't know how good Mark Helfrich will be), Nebraska finally has a national power coming to Lincoln. Oregon was very close to what Nebraska was at its peak -- a smaller state university with an unique run-based offense. Nebraska hasn't announced a series to this much fanfare in a while, and with a possible top 10 Miami coming to Lincoln next year, Nebraska could have two premier home games two years apart.
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The only question is, would Nebraska have been better off stocking its schedule with a 2-for-1, or 3-for-1 series with a competent mid-major like UCF or San Diego State? Possibly, because there are no recruiting reasons to play in Oregon. But bottom line, if you can get a consistent top 10 program on your schedule, there's little to fault in taking it with no questions asked, even if you are just bolstering their strength of schedule.
After Missouri beat Georgia on Saturday, I got to thinking: what are the chances that Missouri could be matched against Nebraska in a bowl game, since the SEC and Big 10 tie into three bowls? With fewer regional games for both schools and Big 10 fatigue setting in for Nebraska, a Huskers-Tigers bowl could energize fans and foster strong message board fodder.
Missouri, right now 6-0, likely won't finish below 8-4. (If you doubt me, check their schedule. All their tough games are at home, and both of their road games are winnable). Assuming the SEC has two BCS teams, the Capital One Bowl will get the conference's third selection, the Outback Bowl the fifth selection, and the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl the seventh, so the Tigers could be in play for all of those slots. The Big 10's first three selections go to those three bowls in their respective order, and Nebraska will more than likely finish in the top three in Big 10. Any bowl won't pick Northwestern over Nebraska if the teams have equal records, and there's a reasonable chance Wisconsin or another Big 10 team will make the BCS besides Ohio State, all helping Nebraska's chances.
A Nebraska-Missouri season-capper would fold out with the all the symmetry of a Philip K. Dick short story, since they still have the same coaches and much of the same culture from their last game three years ago. Nebraska could very well be starting the same quarterback they did in that last meeting, and a couple of other freshmen from that 2010 game could be on the field, like Ciante Evans for Nebraska and Henry Josey for Missouri. If a Missouri player, coach, or booster publicly plays the “this-is-our-chance-to-make-the-Big-10-sorry” card, it's game on. Come on Jay Nixon, you got it in you.
But of course, the main hurdle to this old Big 8 rematch is that their fans don't travel as well to Florida. Missouri's fans might be energized for their first bowl trip in a year, but Nebraska could get passed on if they are sitting in a bunch with Michigan, Michigan State, and/or Wisconsin, who has to be high on the Capital One Bowl's list after three straight years in the Rose Bowl. The three Florida bowls would probably all feel a need to match Nebraska and Missouri next to a sure draw like Auburn or Michigan, so if Nebraska and Missouri did play, it would probably be in a bowl that had no choice but to take both teams, most likely the Gator Bowl.
No matter, though. Missouri may be high enough they could end up in the Cotton Bowl, and Nebraska could fall to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Both of those tie into the Big 12.