Don’t Cheer for Legends Teams Just Yet
The college football season is so close you can taste it. Beginning Thursday night, you can see actual games with future Husker opponents. While you can watch as a neutral observer, it's often more fun to take sides. Some people might choose sides based on betting interests, others may just want to see the Big Ten do well. But before you go waving the flag for Minnesota when they take on UNLV Thursday night or Michigan State as they host Boise State on Friday, remember one thing.
The tiebreak rules for the Big Ten championship game make the nonconference games kind of meaningful. Phil Steele has predicted that three teams in the Legends division will go 6-2 this year (Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska). If that were to happen with none of those teams beating both of the other two, the first tiebreak is a team's overall record. That means that if NU were to go 4-0 outside the conference schedule while the Wolverines and Spartans each went 3-1, then the Huskers would play in the conference title game.
As nauseating as the thought of cheering for an SEC team against a Big Ten team (like Alabama against Michigan) or for Notre Dame against anyone, those games could be the difference between a shot at the Rose Bowl and an Outback Bowl appearance for Nebraska. The chance a tiebreak becomes meaningful for a divisional opponent like Minnesota seems unlikely, but you never know.
Some fans will stick out their chest and say they expect Nebraska to go 12-0 or 11-1 so they can root for all of the Legends teams. That's a nice thought, but some of us have tempered our expectations a bit in the last decade.
Another way to look at it will be that every cloud will have a silver lining. If Michigan State fails to hang a loss on Boise State (which looks like it will be the only ranked team on the Broncos schedule), at least it can help NU in the tiebreak. If a Michigan loss means we'll hear that much more gushing about how great the SEC is, at least it could be good for the Huskers. As enjoyable as it may be to see the Fighting Irish lose...sorry that one never gets old.