LINCOLN, NEB. For a week at least, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are not the most popular football team in the state.
No. 21 LSU has been adopted by Nebraska fans and players, who hope the Tigers can defeat second-ranked Tennessee in the Southeast Conference championship game Saturday.
An LSU win probably would put Nebraska in the Rose Bowl, completing a scenario unimaginable two weeks ago.
"We're fortunate to be where we're at and who knows? Maybe it will work out for us," tight end Tracey Wistrom said.
Yes, Nebraska thought to be out of the national championship picture after an embarrassing 62-36 loss to Colorado on Nov. 23 is right back in it, thanks to a series of surprises and the complicated formula that is the Bowl Championship Series.
It started with Oklahoma losing to Oklahoma State the day after Nebraska lost for the first time this season. It continued Saturday when Tennessee defeated then-No. 2 Florida, and Colorado beat Texas, formerly ranked third, in the Big 12 championship.
Nebraska came up third in this week's BCS ratings. Moving up another spot would pit the Huskers against No. 1 Miami for the national championship.
"It's been crazy," cornerback Keyuo Craver said. "It just goes to show you never know what might happen."
Nebraska (11-1) would have no chance at the Rose Bowl if second-ranked Tennessee (10-1) beats the No. 21 Tigers for the second time this season. But Husker fans are still hopeful and doing what they can to support LSU. Purple and gold cookies with "LSU" on the frosting have been popular at a local bake shop since they debuted Monday. And the secretaries working in Nebraska's football offices even donned LSU colors this week.
"Go Big Red!" has been temporarily put on hold in favor of "Geaux Tigers!"
Most of the Huskers said they planned to gather at various homes and apartments to watch the SEC game on Saturday. Quarterback Eric Crouch will not be one of them. Crouch will be in New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but he plans to find a television not too long after the presentation.
"I might have to check that one out just a little bit," Crouch said with a grin. "I know that I'm going to be a big fan of that game and of LSU."