Bowl games are technically neutral-site affairs, but it sure won't feel that way for the Huskers.
Nebraska will be on the wrong end of a distinct home-field advantage when it takes on Tennessee in the Music City Bowl, played Dec. 30 in Nashville.
The Volunteers will be playing in front of their home-state fans, Nashville just a couple hours' drive from campus in Knoxville.
This is the Huskers' second straight bowl trip in as many seasons under Mike Riley. Despite a 5-7 regular-season finish last year, Nebraska beat UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl to finish Riley's first season in Lincoln on a positive note. This season, the Huskers finished the regular season at 9-3, losing three of their last five games to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa.
Tennessee finished the season at 8-4, losing games throughout the season to Texas A&M, Alabama, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Only one of those teams finished the season ranked — the No. 1 Crimson Tide — but the Volunteers stayed in the rankings, ending the year at No. 21.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two programs, the previous three all coming in bowl games. Nebraska beat Tennessee in the Orange Bowl to close out the 1997 national-championship season and won in the Fiesta Bowl to finish off the 1999 campaign.
Fresh off the resignation of its head coach, Indiana will have a mighty tough task in its bowl trip.
The Hoosiers will go up against the Utah Utes in the Foster Farms Bowl, a 6-6 squad from the Big Ten battling a top-25 team from the Pac-12. The game, played at the home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., will kick at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 28.
Kevin Wilson resigned last week, and Indiana promoted defensive coordinator Tom Allen to the permanent head-coaching position. Allen’s defense made quite the transformation in his first year in Bloomington, changing from the conference’s worst unit to one that can actually cause problems for opposing offenses.
But Utah is no small challenge, one of the best teams in the Pac-12. The Utes finished their regular season 8-4 with three losses in their last four games. Utah fell to both participants in last week’s Pac-12 Championship Game, Washington and Colorado, but own a win over top-10 USC.
Still, any bowl appearance is a positive for Indiana, which will make back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in 25 years. Last year’s appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl was the program’s first postseason game since 2007 and just its second since 1993.
The initial reason given for Wilson’s departure amid the success was “philosophical differences” between him and athletics director Fred Glass. Though reporting over the weekend revealed that Glass ordered multiple investigations into the football program after complaints of student-athlete mistreatment.
Regardless, the Hoosiers will play this postseason, attempting to start the Allen Era off right.