One of the first B1G insults I was introduced to as a Cornhusker was, "You lost to Washington in your bowl game last season. You suck." Of course, this was usually some quality trolling in hopes of Nebraska fans responding with some mouthful of comeback along the lines of, "BUT BUT BUT NEBRASKA GOT SCREWED BY THE BIG XII AND THEY HATE US" or "WE DIDN'T EVEN TRY TO WIN LAST YEAR BECAUSE WE WERE OBVIOUSLY BETTER THAN WASHINGTON AND IT IS INSULTING THEY SENT US TO SAN DIEGO AGAIN RAWRRRRRRR!!!!" Both of these lines are ridiculous, but so was the line about Nebraska sucking just because of losing to Washington. I mean, I am not going to sit here and make excuses like a Spartan fan (I keed, I keed), but that bowl game was not the rule for Nebraska. Of course, the more I thought about Nebraska, the more I realized there really aren't a lot of 'rules' when it comes to bowl games.
Nebraska has played in a ridiculous 47 bowls going an okay 24-23. There does not seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to when the team wins and when the team loses. For most of you out there in OTE world, you probably couldn't care less about Nebraska's bowl history. In fact, it's more annoying than helpful because it just points out what was and not what is and is to come. Even so, I am sure of the fact that Nebraska as a B1G member is huge to the national perception of the conference, and winning a game against the SEC would be amazing. In case you still don't believe me, I wanted to make a few quick points on why you should care Nebraska wins this game. You may not like the Red Hordes yet, but with a few marquee wins against Top 10 ESSSSSS EEEEEEEE SEEEEEEE SPEEEEEEEEEEED teams, you might change your mind. Three reasons rooting for Nebraska to win is good after the jump.
1. The New Guy Moment
Look, I have not gotten into the nitty gritty on how Nebraska stacks up against South Carolina. Hopefully before the bowl, I can get some more cool new statistics and figure out why Nebraska is going to win. This is not the place for that preview. This is all about something I think is more important in the long run. You know those really crappy sports movies where the new guy joins the team, but nobody likes him because he wasn't there when it was really tough. They haze him, make him use crapy equipment, make him feel bad that he is decent enough to play, and call him mean names. He almost quits, but keeps going and finally, at the awesome climactic ending, our new guy becomes the hero and makes the game-winning play or the game-saving catch. He is a part of the club, and everyone cheers for him and ushers him out on their shoulders.
The Capital One Bowl is that moment for the Cornhuskers. Look, I know that most everyone has accepted Nebraska as part of the club more or less. Minus some good (and bad) natured ribbing here and there, fans have been great, administration has been great, and obviously the B1G HQ has been great. Still, it would be naive of me or any of the Cornhusker contingent to believe that we are truly a part of the conference yet. There has not been a 'moment' where Nebraska has been a real value-add to the way people see the conference. After all, the last time Nebraska did something nationally, was in the last century. I also understand that this conference would sooner drown in a pool of hot tar before cheering for a rival, but because perception is truth, we all have had to make some changes in how we see the conference as a bigger entity than scheduling god. That leads me to the next reason...
2. You're Going to Look Better
In a world where LSU-Bama can happen and where Oklahoma can get bumps in computer ranking because it's in such a powerful conference, the B1G needs to start finding ways to tip the scale nationally. Adding Nebraska was one way to help turn the tide. I remember coming on OTE when Nebraska had just made the switch, and I mentioned that people see Nebraska and think, "Oh hey, that should be a good game," even though they may not care about football in the least bit. It was Bill Simmons' Mom Test (or we could call it the casual fan test). The Nebraska acquisition was a huge value-add to the conference, but it doesn't mean anything yet, especially if Nebraska were to get beat on a national stage. That would result in relegation to the, "Oh, another B1G team sucked against the SEC" pool. Nobody needs that. This is the reason it is so important for the Huskers to go out and do something big this year.
Every team in the B1G looks better when one of the 10 conference teams wins. If the B1G were to sweep competition this season, you better believe next year's polls will be a little kinder than they have been in the past. While it absolutely pains you to root for the Cornhuskers (especially you Iowa fan), it is important that you understand that this is a New World of football in which the media controls pretty much everything. I know it's fun to go to the Rose Bowl every year and then complain about how much the MNC is a joke, but sooner or later we all have to step it up and get some respect. Nebraska winning their first bowl game as a B1G member helps with that.
For real, we do not need any more of these moments being relived. BUY A FREAKING FG Kicker people.
3. The SEC Sucks (not really, but work with me)
South Carolina is beatable. If you saw the Arkansas or Auburn games, you probably understand that this is a team that can disappear suddenly. They are a Top 10 team because their conference is respected, despite the fact that as a team, they only have 2 wins over teams above .500, 2 wins over teams at .500, 1 win over a ranked opponent, and some close calls against Miss. St and Navy. They are given the benefit of the doubt because of the brand-recognition of their affiliation. Of course, all that can change if Nebraska goes out there and knocks them in the jaw a little bit. To stem the tide of SEC pride and gushing, it must start with a huge win for the new guy.
There is a chance that this game is just another meaningless game between third or fourth best teams in their respective conferences. Neither South Carolina nor Nebraska are that deep in their conference's history either. Still, it would be silly to believe that both teams don't want this game for the reasons listed above. This game is all about respect nationally. Last year sucked for the B1G, and it sucked even worst for Nebraska as a team. This year's group has a chance to go out and do something awesome and put a giant stamp on how things are done in the post-season as Huskers. I just hope everyone in Lincoln knows that, because the conference will be watching - waiting for the New Guy to do something worthwhile.