It's amazing how different people look at identical records. You have Nebraska fans that view it as a pretty good deal, coming off the Huskers first losing season since 1961, Nebraska also missing a bowl, the first they have missed in over 40 years. To get to a bowl was a good deal, but to get to the Alamo Bowl is probably a lot more than most ever hoped a few weeks ago.
Lopsided losses to Missouri and Kansas filled the air around the Husker Nation with discontent, wondering many things, most specifically about head coach Bill Callahan, this offense, and if it would ever work at NU.
This is a good bowl for the program
Conversely, you have the Michigan fans, who view this year as a major disappointment. For one, they were just playing in the Rose Bowl last year and going into that bowl, they were sporting just two losses.
Going into this bowl they have four, which are the most regular season losses under head coach Lloyd Carr since 2001.
Chad Henne was going to be heading into his second year, Michigan had a great offensive line and they had running back Michael Hart, a darkhorse for Heisman contention. Losing wide receiver Braylon Edwards stunk, but this team was coming back with more than a few key pieces in place.
Injuries took a toll on the team, but even with everything going against them, they lost those four games by a total of 17 points.
To add salt to an open wound, Iowa, a team that they beat, who also lost four games this year, one a 20-point trouncing at the hands of in-state rival Iowa State, got the January 2nd invite to the Outback Bowl to play Florida, instead of them.
This isn't a good bowl for the program
That's all perception, of course, and in the world of sports, our perceptions are often skewed by the varied hypocrisies that go with being a sports fan.
You know how that goes: If it's good for my team, good for my team. But if it's good for your team, it's obviously no good at all.
Also, Michigan is ranked, Nebraska isn't.
It's not like Michigan fans don't have their bouts of arrogance at times, because considering their history, you would expect it. And in most cases it's true. So it's probably safe to say that to them, the on-going arguments from the shared national title in 1997 notwithstanding, this game, this opponent is probably not what they would have liked.
This match up does offer some wonderful luster to it, though, despite that fact that a national title isn't on the line.
First, it's Big 12 versus Big Ten, a rivalry from the inception of the Big 12 conference back in 1996. Both always battled to see who could brag about being one of the best conferences, but there was definitely a little rivalry between the conferences, because if they couldn't be the best overall, at least they were better than either the "little twelve" or "little eleven", indicating the Big Ten, which consists of 11 teams.
Also, both conferences fancy themselves very physical in the style of play that most of the teams within the conference utilize: A smashmouth style, which utilizes big linemen, great running backs and clock-chewing offensive attacks.
It also doesn't hurt the competitive nature of this particular game that these are two of the all-time winningest programs in college football history as well as both having long bowl histories, dating back to the Rose Bowl for both - Michigan playing its first bowl game in 1902 whereas Nebraska played in the same bowl in 1941.
Including those appearances, Michigan has been in 36 bowl games, winning 18, and Nebraska has been in 42, winning 21.
Ok, so there's history for each, but there's also history for both as Nebraska and Michigan have faced off five times during their storied existences. Outside of a tie in 1911, Michigan holds the edge, 3-1. Plus, they have met in a bowl game prior to now, the 1986 Fiesta Bowl - the Wolverines taking that game 27-23.
Did you know that both Michigan and Nebraska have consecutive streaks of seven in regard to bowl losses? Michigan "accomplished" the feat under Bo Schembechler, while Nebraska duplicated the effort under Tom Osborne.
Both have produced countless All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, Heisman winners, Butkus winners and just about any and every other individual award you can think of, for players and coaches alike.
Both programs have plenty of conference titles, numerous national titles and each has won over 70% of the games they have played during their stories histories.
They've even had head coaches (Langdon Lea for Michigan and Lawrence McCeney Jones for Nebraska) whose nickname was "Biff".
Oh, and Nebraska has lost their last two meetings with Ohio State as well.
So, there's plenty in common, but most will find as many reasons that they aren't alike as possible, if only to satisfy or even start an argument. They'll rant about all-time records, use bowl appearances as rebuttals and conference records will undoubtedly play a role.
That's water under the bridge, though, and what matters isn't how ancient history perceives the game, but recent history instead. It's a game that just to look at the names of the two teams competing, should have plenty of interest, not just from the fan bases of each, but the national audience as well.
Yes, there's going to be the disenchanted Michigan fan that thinks this isn't the game they should be playing. That's ok, Nebraska fans can relate, but don't expect them to sympathize. Also, don't expect them to hold back on the ticket buying, because after missing a bowl for the first time in most of these fan's lives, they will be at this bowl with a vengeance.
I suppose you could use that particular mind-set in trying to dub this Alamo Bowl as something more than it is, or in some cases, less. Either way you look at it, though, it's going to be an opportunity for each team to head into next year looking to do even better than the last. One thing that both do have in common is that this game will definitely be a step in trying to get back – back to where both are accustomed to being.
The fact that it's Nebraska versus Michigan, well, that just sounds pretty
good to me.