Newcomer Nebraska can boost Big Ten

CHICAGO -- Nebraska's final two games as a Big 12 school were largely forgettable, as the Cornhuskers blew a 17-point lead in a 23-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, then went flat in a 19-7 loss to Washington in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl.

At least Nebraska's postseason performance matched the results of its new conference, the Big Ten.

The Cornhuskers' arrival couldn't come at a better time for the Big Ten, which went 0-4 in New Year's Day bowl games and enters the 2011 season with two of its flagship programs, Michigan and Ohio State, going through coaching transitions for entirely different reasons.

The Wolverines will start the 2011 season with their third coach in five years after hiring former San Diego State coach Brady Hoke to replace fired coach Rich Rodriguez. The Buckeyes are reeling from an NCAA investigation that forced coach Jim Tressel into retirement and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor into the NFL's supplemental draft.

Here come the Cornhuskers to the rescue with their Sea of Red, Blackshirts defense and five national championships.

If the Big Ten is to rebound and challenge the SEC for college football supremacy, the Cornhuskers will need to fare better than they did in the Big 12. The Cornhuskers' last Big 12 championship came in 1999, which was also the last season in which they won a BCS bowl game, defeating Tennessee 31-21 in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.

SEC teams have won the past five BCS national championships. Ohio State was the last Big Ten team to do it in 2002.

At least the Big Ten is now armed with another traditional power that has a championship pedigree. ...

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