Bo Pelini and the Nebraska Cornhuskers have been hearing a lot about how this year’s Capital One Bowl is about redemption. To a certain point, that’s true. It’s their opportunity to show that they’re the team that went 10-2 and played for a Big Ten Championship, not the team that Wisconsin soundly defeated in that same championship game. But a larger examination of the Nebraska program shows that so much more is riding on this game and this season.
Pelini started off his Husker tenure strong, going 9-4 (including a Gator Bowl win) in his first season at the helm. After finishing out the Huskers era in the Big 12 with consecutive 10-4 years and consecutive conference championship game appearances, Nebraska took a small step back last year in their first Big Ten season. Although they finished 9-4 (including a Capital One Bowl loss), it was the first year Pelini’s crew had missed out on a division title.
The Blackshirts got back on the path in 2012 by winning the Big Ten Legends Division with a 7-1 conference record. But a loss in the Capital One Bowl would leave Pelini and Nebraska with a fifth-straight season of four defeats.
That is why the Capital One Bowl is so much more than one game for the Huskers. A win doesn’t just say the Wisconsin debacle was a fluke, it says the Blackshirts are moving forward. What better way to announce to the college football world that Nebraska is back than a big win over a Top-10 opponent from the SEC?
Not many teams get a shot at 11 wins. Even fewer get a second chance. Pelini and the Huskers have it this year. Last year, it was South Carolina going for 11 and finding just enough magic in Orlando to pull it off. There’s no reason to believe the Cornhuskers can’t do the same this year.