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December 2, 2011

What bowl game will Nebaska go to?

Nebraska's bowl fate won't officially be known until Sunday night when the final BCS standings are released, but all signs point either to the Capital One or Outback Bowls in Florida.

The Capital One Bowl is played in Orlando on Jan. 2, while the Outback Bowl will also be played on Jan. 2 in Tampa. Both bowls are very attractive in terms of prestige, as the Capital One ($4.6 million) has the highest payout of any of the non-BCS bowls and the Outback Bowl ($3.5 million) ranks third.

The biggest questions that still need to be answered from now until Sunday is will Michigan get a BCS at-large spot if they move into the top 14 and how far will the loser of Saturday's championship game in Indianapolis slide in the pecking order?

Steve Hogan is the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, which operates both the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowls in Orlando.

Hogan said there's still a lot of football that needs to be played from now until Saturday before things are finalized, but Nebraska is definitely an attractive option at this point.

"(Nebraska) is very attractive," Hogan told HuskerOnline.com. "We've got a lot of respect for Coach (Tom) Osborne and Bo (Pelini) and the team and how they've played this year. Again they're ranked in the top 20, which is good. They're coming off a 9 win season in their first year in the Big Ten and they haven't been (to Orlando) since 91' and our experience back when they played Georgia Tech in the Florida Citrus Bowl was a great one.

"We have such respect for the Nebraska fan base. It's probably one of the best fan bases in sports with just the way they approach the game and treat their team and visiting teams. They're big on our board and deserve to be. There are a few other teams in the Big Ten that are equally as deserving."

Another thing to factor in if Michigan gets a BCS at-large bid is Wisconsin has played in Orlando four times since 2005, including back-to-back trips to the Champs Sports Bowl in 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile Michigan State has played in Orlando three out of the last four years.

Hogan said the ultimate goal is to find the best fit for their game and they'll look at a number of different factors on Sunday.

"Michigan State played (in Orlando) back-to-back a couple of times and Wisconsin played back-to-back a couple of times and we've had both of them quite a lot the last five or six years as a result," Hogan said. "I don't know if you look at that necessarily as a preferable thing on either side. Each season takes on a life of its own and depending on how the team is playing, how they finished and how the fan base and the team and players feel you make decisions accordingly.

"Sometimes they need a change of scenery or vice versa. Sometimes it just works though where the better opportunity is for them to just come back. There's no hard or fast rule there, but there's no question if works out for everybody it's good to get a little bit of scenery change."

When Mike Schulze of the Outback Bowl looks at their situation for Sunday the good thing is they are going to be looking at hosting a quality 9 or 10 win team no matter what.

If Nebraska is still available at that point Schulze said they're definitely going to be hard to pass up.

"I think they'd by very attractive," Schulze said of Nebraska. "They're going to garner a lot of consideration from us and I think for anybody for that very reason. Its new inventory and somebody we've never had in our game. I 'd think they'd be excited to come down here and that's one of the things you look for - you want teams that are going to be really, really excited about the opportunity to play in your bowl game.

"At the same time we are in an absolutely no lose situation right now. Whether it would be any of those teams in the Big Ten, they're all 9 or 10 win teams. We could end up with the runner-up of the Big Ten championship game or we could end up with a Nebraska, Michigan or Penn State. I don't know how you lose in that situation. If you would've told me at the beginning of the year we'd have any of those teams in our game, I'd say 'let's sign them up right now.'"


Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.


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