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Hot Reads: Sifting Through Bowl Scenarios

November 09, 2016

ESPN released its new bowl projections, which reflect the Huskers’ loss last week. Mark Schlabach has Nebraska headed to the Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27) to face Washington State. Brett McMurphy sees a Nebraska-Florida match up in the Outback Bowl (Jan. 2). That’s the same Outback Bowl match up Jerry Palm had in his latest set of projections.

As much as I would love to have some Mike Leach back in my life, Florida seems like a much more likely destination for Nebraska at this point. The reason is the new bowl agreement the Big Ten unveiled a few years back that adopted a tiered system in hopes of not sending conference teams back to the same bowls year after year. It can be a little hard to parse, but the Big Ten put stipulations on its bowl partners that it will try to send five different teams to most of its bowls in each six-year cycle.

Based on what we know today — and a lot can change — most people are projecting that the Big Ten will get one team in the playoff (Michigan at the moment) and two more teams in New Year’s Six games. The Rose Bowl is obviously taking one (either Ohio State or Wisconsin for now) and the Orange Bowl had a 2014-16 window to take Big Ten team. It hasn’t yet, so it likely will this year, which means the Citrus Bowl won’t. Got all that?

Good, because the Big Ten could also slide another team (Penn State right now) into a New Year’s Six game because the Cotton Bowl has an at-large spot it can use based on the final CFP rankings.

What you need to know is that the Big Ten’s “top tier” includes the Rose, Orange or Citrus, Outback and Holiday Bowls. The Cotton would be a bonus.

Based on where Nebraska is sitting right now, that leaves the Outback and the Holiday as the most likely destinations for the Huskers. But I don’t think the Holiday is really in play given that Nebraska went there in 2014. It’s not technically eliminated, but seems unlikely. So that leaves the Outback. While a match up with Florida perhaps isn’t the most appealing right now — have you watched the Gators play this year? — Nebraska getting that high-profile Jan. 2 date isn’t a bad thing.

Fall below that and the Huskers are into the “middle tier,” which likely includes the Music City (rather than the Gator this year), Pinstripe and Foster Farms Bowls. You can strike one of those from the list based on recency, so if you’re planning to follow Nebraska to its bowl game this season think east.

By my count right now, Nebraska is most likely looking at Tampa, Nashville or New York City.

Or, the Huskers could just win out, get a little help from Wisconsin, win the Big Ten and guarantee itself no worse a spot than the Rose Bowl. If you’re asking me to choose, I choose that scenario (followed by Tampa, Nashville, NYC).

The Grab Bag

  • Minnesota will be without middle linebacker Cody Poock for the rest of the season. Poock was the Gophers’ early starter this season before an injury shelved him for the middle stretch. He returned but now he’s having surgery to repair his shoulder. His replacement, Nick Rallis, has to sit out the first half Saturday after being ejected for targeting last week.
  • Tracy Claeys currently only has a three-year deal, but he’s content to wait until the end of the season to negotiate something longer.
  • Steve Sipple writes that the coaches came up short in Nebraska’s loss to Ohio State.
  • Great read from Richard Deitsch on Verne Lundquist as the CBS broadcaster nears the end of his career.
  • ICYMI: It was defense day yesterday at Nebraska’s practice as coaches and players talked about preparing to slow down the Gophers.

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