The close finish, a disputed, but replaced second, and Bo Pelini's post-Big 12 Championship outburst would have already made this year's Nebraska-Texas game in Lincoln on Oct. 16 a nationwide must-see matchup.
Factor in Nebraska's exit from the Big 12 after this season, add athletic director Tom Osborne's verbal grenades lobbed in the direction of Austin, and the Big 12 Championship rematch has a strong case as the most heated game of any on the college football schedule for the upcoming season.
All the off-the-field shenanigans might not be in the players' minds when they take the field, but they'll affect the atmosphere inside Memorial Stadium thanks to Nebraska fans wishing they could fill the stands this afternoon in anticipation of a game still over three months away. The sting of a BCS bowl denial at the hands of the Longhorns also helps, and the university isn't shying away from the newly drawn bad blood either, releasing a video that further hyped the game, tagged with the slogan, "Wear Red. Be Loud. Beat Texas." The video is hosted on the website RedOutAroundtheWorld.com.
"These past few months, thunderstorms weren't the only power building over the Great Plains," says the video's narrator.
A statement from Nebraska assistant athletic director Michael Stephens to ESPN.com read:
“RedOutAroundtheWorld.com is an athletic department website produced in partnership with the Omaha World-Herald and UNL Communications. I think it is important to note that it is not a ‘Beat Texas’ site but rather a website that will be used to celebrate, thank and connect Husker fans across the world. In doing this we do hope to create some energy to help our team beat Texas but that certainly is not the sole focus. This will become much clearer when the full site goes live on August 7th.”
Colleague Pat Forde called the statement "an inevitable but ineffective backpedal toward pretend politeness" in his column on Nebraska-Texas as the Bad Blood matchup of 2010.
Bragging rights for decades could be on the line for this game, unless they meet again in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas with even more on the line.
Nebraska's mild dislike for the Longhorns -- their conference companions for under two decades -- has grown exponentially in just the past year. Texas took the upper hand on the field last December, and Nebraska welcomed the Big Ten's advances this summer, becoming the 12th member of a more stable, more financially beneficial conference.
To quote a member of the Nebraska media recently on the matchup: "Let's just say Nebraska's reputation as having college football's most hospitable fans will be put to the test."
Forde tackles the rivalry in his most recent column:
That game continued a remarkable run of futility against Texas for the Huskers. They’re 4-9 against the Horns, just 1-8 since the two became conference mates in 1996. That includes a current five-game losing streak, the last three decided by a total of six points.
For a school long accustomed to crushing its peers, that’s tough to take. So, too, has been the migration of conference clout from Lincoln to Austin.
Nebraska was one of the kingpins of the Big Eight when the league took in a life raft of four schools from the crumbling, corrupt Southwest Conference. But it didn’t long for the Longhorns to flex their muscles, helping block schools from signing partial academic qualifiers and helping usher in a league playoff game. In recent years the disproportionate conference revenue-sharing plan has tilted even more in favor of Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12 South, and away from Nebraska and its overmatched brethren in the North.
So, yeah, there are a few reasons why Nebraska didn’t mind hitting the eject button on any conference that included Texas. And a few reasons why the Corn People dearly want to beat Bevo on their way out the door to the Big Ten.