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Hot Reads: Orange Blossom Special

Nebraska is headed down to Florida to get some sand in its shoes for the second straight year. Oh, and to play No. 6 Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. Judging from the message boards and social media, Nebraska fans aren’t too excited about the opportunity to play ol’ silver britches.

They should be. This is exactly the match-up Nebraska needs. Winning it will be brutally hard, but if you want to return to the nation’s best, you have to beat the nation’s best. No potential bowl opponent offers the opportunity for bigger gains than Georgia. Nebraska needs some of those. The 2012 season was lost on Saturday night. The 2013 season was not.

Bo Pelini & Co. have four weeks to come up with a plan to give the Huskers a shot.

On to the Hot Reads:

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DANCE WITH WHO BRUNG YA >>> Why did Nebraska, who had some say in it, want to play the highly-ranked Bulldogs? “The opportunity to play the highest ranked team out there,” Pelini said. The motivation on this side is pretty clear.

But what about Georgia? Coach Mark Richt had this to say in his Sunday night teleconference:

“I think playing Nebraska is going to get everybody’s blood pumping,” Richt said. “There aren’t many teams in the history of Georgia football that have ever won 12 games in a season and it’s going to mean something to them. I know our guys want to finish on a high note.”

That’s fine for a coach to say, but if any of Georgia’s players watched the Big Ten title game, I’m guessing few did, it’s hard to believe that got their blood pumping too much. Bowl games are weird things in that way.

LOU HOLTZ IS YOUR HOMEBOY >>> Nebraska got an unlikely defender in ESPN analyst Lou Holtz on Sunday night. Randy York has the story:

“You look at the history of bowl games and the teams that play real good in the last game of the year and teams that play poorly … they end up swapping it out,” Holtz told a national television audience. “I promise you this, this will be a good Nebraska football team, and I will not be surprised if they end up …”

Unfortunately, Holtz could not finish his statement because May, a fellow ESPN college football analyst who battles Holtz every weekend in a mock trial that includes a moderator wearing a judge’s robe, was too incredulous to let Holtz finish his thought process.

I’m guessing Holtz’s statement is based more on feel than an actual accounting of past games where one team “play(ed) poorly” but there’s plenty of time for that. Might be something to it.

THE BIG TEN BIAS >>> It’s always interesting to see a columnist or writer really examine conventional wisdom. That’s what Penn State writer Pete Young did in this story entitled “The myth of Big Ten’s football ‘very, very, down’ year.”

That is, of course, the national perception. Has been for quite some time. The Big Ten is slow, plodding, and the butt of many jokes. It’s almost taken on a life of its own at this point, but what does the objective data say? Young uses the Massey College Football Ranking Comparison — a compilation of 100 different computer and human polls — to make his point.

The truth is, it’s an average year for the Big Ten. The MCFRC proves it.

According this week’s early returns on MCFRC – 47 computers have calculated Saturday’s results and checked in as Sunday afternoon –  the Big Ten is the 4th-best conference at the end of the 2012 the regular season, relatively close behind the Pac-12, well ahead of No. 5 Big East and No. 6 ACC.

The Big Ten’s average team ranking (mean ranking) this season is 48.6.

Last season, 2011, the Big Ten average (mean) was 47.6 at the end of the regular season, which was third among leagues, just ahead of the Pac-12.

In 2010, the Big Ten mean was 47.3, fourth behind No. 3 Pac-12.

In 2009, it was 51.6, which was sixth among conferences, with many tightly bunched.

In 2008, it was 48.3.

You get the picture. This is a totally average Big Ten season. Another in a long string of them. The league has been very consistent. It’s a fact.

That at least refutes the “down year” argument. The bad news for Big Ten fans? It doesn’t refute the “average league” argument. It supports it.