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December 2, 2013

Husker Buzz: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl eying Huskers

There is still a lot of football left to be played this week, but if you were a betting man the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., on Dec. 28 appears to be Nebraska's most likely post season destination.

However, the Big Ten Championship game and the final BCS standings will be the deciding factor before anything can be released officially. If Michigan State loses to Ohio State and stays in the BCS top 14 they will head to the Rose Bowl while Ohio State to the BCS national title game. If that happens everybody moves up one slot and its assumed Wisconsin heads to the Capital One Bowl, Iowa to the Outback Bowl and Nebraska to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which picks ahead of the Gator Bowl this year.

If for whatever reason MSU is out of the top 14, they would fall to the Capital One Bowl and Wisconsin to the Outback, while the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl would have to make a choice between Iowa and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes last two bowl trips though were to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which makes them a much better fit for either the Outback or Gator Bowls.

"We have the third selection from the Big Ten Conference, so this year we are fortunate that there were a lot of teams that had our eye throughout the season," Buffalo Wild Wings and Fiesta Bowl Director of Public Relations Kristen Pflipsen said. "Obviously Nebraska is a very attractive team to us, but until the BCS selections take place and we know exactly where everyone is going it's hard to whittle our selection down until Sunday."

Pflipsen did say the chance to get Nebraska though is very exciting for the Fiesta Bowl Organization, which has not hosted the Big Red since the 1999 season when the Huskers beat Tennessee 31-21. Before that NU played in the Valley of the Sun in the 1975, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995 seasons in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is played at Sun Devil Stadium, which was the original home of the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe. The Fiesta Bowl is now played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale where the Arizona Cardinals call home.

"Obviously Nebraska is a great program and they would be very valuable to any bowl," Pflipsen said. "Two blocks from our office is a Nebraska store (in Scottsdale) and there's a huge alumni contingent here. We find that anywhere that has temperatures that are a little more chilly in the winter months travel very well down here - it's 75 degrees down here right now.

"Some of our most iconic Fiesta Bowl plays like the Tommie Frazier run are still iconic and still used in a lot of our videos to this day. We'd be very excited to have a program like Nebraska."

Then you toss in the possibility of a Nebraska vs. Texas or a Nebraska vs. Oklahoma match-up in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and the prestige of the match-up would almost trump the Fiesta Bowl itself who more than likely could have Northern Illinois paired up against Oklahoma State or Baylor.

With a Saturday night primetime kickoff in Tempe, along with a strong alumni contingent on the West Coast Nebraska fans would definitely make the most of the Buffalo Wilds Wings Bowl, especially if the Big Red was matched up against Texas or Oklahoma.

"We really try to put together the best match-up we can, so there is some flexibility," Pflipsen said. "You don't select just simply on the ranking of the teams. If you were to rank them 1 to 10 it's not like you have to match them exactly. There can't be any repeat games though if any of them already happened during the season and we might be a little flexible for programs that have already been here quite a few years or not been here recently - those are thing we look at. Momentum going into a game, fan base, there's a lot of decisions that come to play with who we are going to select.

"That's what's interesting about Nebraska. Their history with us is so long because of the Big 12 Conference. Then when you have a bowl that's a Big Ten vs. Big 12 match-up and you have some programs that have a chance to play some rivalries again that's definitely something interesting and exciting. After this weekend fans tend to remember the old rivalries and it's exciting for the chance to see some of them back into play after the realignment."


Three and out

***My biggest recruiting need right now for Nebraska still remains in the secondary. The Huskers really need to close on at least one or two junior college defensive backs to balance out their numbers at cornerback.

***I look for Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to be named the Big Ten's offensive player of the year, but Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah should take home the league's running back of the year honors. I also expect defensive end Randy Gregory to be a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection.

***Does anyone have a clue who's going to win the Heisman this year? I don't. What will be unique about the Big Ten and SEC title games is neither have a viable Heisman candidate in them at this point in most people's eyes. The safe money remains on Florida State's Jameis Winston, especially if he puts on a show against Duke in the ACC title game.

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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