Nebraska plans to finish job in B12 title game
No one from the Big 12 staff was on hand to present Nebraska the North Division trophy it won by beating Colorado, and that's all right with coach Bo Pelini.
For him, there's no satisfaction at the end of Nebraska's Big 12 Conference farewell tour unless commissioner Dan Beebe hands the league championship trophy to the Huskers next Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.
''We're only halfway there,'' Pelini said. ''It was fun to win the Big 12 North, but we still have got some unfinished business. That wasn't our main goal, but it's a goal we had to reach. It's part of the process.''
The 16th-ranked Cornhuskers' opponent won't be known for sure until Sunday night after Oklahoma (10-2, 6-2) beat Oklahoma State 47-41 to create a three-way tie for first in the South. The division will be decided based on who comes out ahead in the Bowl Championship Series standings between OU, OSU and Texas A&M. Oklahoma State was ninth this past week, with Oklahoma 13th and A&M 17th.
If Oklahoma advances, the Big 12's last championship game will be a sentimental one pitting old Big Eight rivals in the Sooners and Huskers.
Nebraska (10-2, 6-2) had national championship hopes to start the season, but the underlying theme for 2010 was to make it back to Cowboys Stadium and win the title that went to Texas last year, when it kicked the winning field goal after one second was put back on the clock.
''Oh, it means a lot. That's still in the back of our minds. I'm not going to lie,'' said running back Rex Burkhead, who ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and passed for two others in Friday's 45-17 win over Colorado.
The ''destination Dallas'' goal became more urgent over the summer when Nebraska announced it would join the Big Ten and that this would be its last year in the Big 12.
Nebraska's departure, along with Colorado's move to the Pac-12 next year, threatened the existence of the Big 12. In Nebraska's case, the divorce has been contentious, starting with the Huskers' challenge of the amount of money it should pay as an exit fee under Big 12 bylaws.
The Huskers haven't been happy about the officiating in several of their games this season, especially in last week's 9-6 loss at Texas A&M. The Huskers were penalized 16 times, including seven personal fouls, and the Aggies were flagged twice.
The disparity and nature of some of the calls left Pelini in a rage on the sideline and, according to Beebe, spawned a flood of nasty and threatening e-mails from fans to his office.
Beebe told Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne last week that neither he nor anyone from his staff would go to Lincoln to present the North Division trophy because of safety concerns.
Imagine the scene if Beebe hands Pelini and Osborne the trophy if Nebraska wins the championship on its way out the door.
Some have speculated it would harken to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle grudgingly handing the 1981 Super Bowl trophy to his antagonist, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
Pelini initially alleged the Big 12 showed favoritism to Texas at last year's championship game, when officials put a second back on the clock after a scrambling Colt McCoy threw out of bounds. Replay officials looked at the flight of the ball with the clock superimposed on a replay and ruled the ball hit the ground with a second left.
That gave Hunter Lawrence an opportunity to kick the winning field goal.
Pelini yelled in the corridor outside the locker room that the call was made to help Texas get to the BCS championship game. He later said the right call was made.
The heartbreaking outcome fueled the Huskers this season. Many players wear red bracelets that say ''FINISH'' on one side and ''0.01'' on the other.
Now that the Huskers have reached the title game again, it would be unhealthy to dwell on what happened last year, quarterback Cody Green said.
''You can't go in there thinking we need vengeance,'' he said. ''We have to go out and do our job and take care of business.''