Arlington, Texas Nebraska can finally thank TCU in a big way for helping the Cornhuskers get into a BCS national championship game — by returning the favor eight years later.
In an ironic twist, No. 21 Nebraska could help clear the way for fourth-ranked TCU to play for the national title — if the Cornhuskers can upset No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 championship game tonight.
“I can say this, we’re not playing this game for them,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Friday. “But I’ll gladly shake (coach Gary Patterson’s) hand if we’re able to help him out. But what happened in 2001, I wasn’t even in college football at that time, so I’m not real familiar with that one there.”
Well, Nebraska beat TCU 21-7 in the 2001 season opener. TCU won only six games in 2001, but ended the regular season with wins over ranked Louisville and then at Southern Miss just days before the final BCS standings came out. Those late victories helped bolster Nebraska’s strength of schedule — then a factor in the formula — enough to jump over Colorado for No. 2 in the final BCS standings, two weeks after the Buffaloes had beaten the Huskers 62-36 to claim the Big 12 North title.
Colorado even won the Big 12 championship, beating then third-ranked Texas. But the Buffs still finished 0.05 points behind in the standings.