The Huskers appeared in an NCAA-record 35 consecutive bowl games from 1969 to 2003.
Since then, it’s been mostly known that Nebraska was going to a bowl game. For two of the last three seasons though, it has been in doubt whether or not Nebraska was going to become bowl eligible. In 2015, Nebraska went 5-7 during the regular season but was invited to the Foster Farms Bowl due to a lack of enough eligible teams to fill all bowl slots and the team's high academic progress rate.
Now the team is sitting at 4-5 (3-3 in league play), an underdog going on the road to face Minnesota this week with a trip to Penn State left and a home date with Iowa. It doesn’t look great for Nebraska's bowl chances right now but it’s clearly still a goal for the team. Making it to a bowl can serve as a great motivator as Mike Riley explained this morning at his weekly press conference.
“I think it’s one of the carrots. I think the initial focus is the work that we are going to do this week, but I think that to not still have that out there as something would be kind of denying what’s on everybody’s mind," he said. "I think that it would be great and I will state it would be great for our team and for our seniors in particular to fight and get some wins to get bowl eligible. So, it’s definitely a carrot.”
There is certainly an importance to becoming bowl eligible as well. There are lots of benefits for developing your team and program, plus it can be a nice reward for your seniors to get to go out with a bowl game and hopefully for them, a win.
“In general, the bowl game is, in my experience with the bowl games we’ve been to in all the years, it feels like a special time for the seniors, an added game experience that I think is fun. I think that in general the fans see it as a positive and something they can go to a new place and experience, I think that for the team it’s really good extra practices. I like that part of it. Some added time with younger guys in the program that maybe have been on the scout team that we can start to incorporate schematically with what we’re doing and where they might fit when they re-enter the competition for spring ball, you get a jump start on that. When you look at it there is a number of things that make it. It’s fun, and the bowl experience is a memory, that is part of the football life they will look back on, they get some gear, it’s all a good thing.”
In a season where Nebraska has not met many of their goals before the season, and more of them are slipping away with each passing week, Tanner Lee explained that the bowl game is something the team can definitely lock to and strive for.
“I think that has been a goal of ours since the beginning of the year. And it is definitely something I want to do for the team as a whole," he said. "I think we wanted to earn that right to be bowl eligible since summer conditioning. We have been putting in work there . . . I think we have just got to continue to earn week-to-week and prove that we can get those six wins, get the bowl eligibility. It is still good to have that out there as something to strive for.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.