Our reporters will periodically offer their takes on important questions in college football. They'll have strong, though often differing, opinions. We'll let you decide who is right.
Nebraska and Miami renew a unique rivalry on Saturday night in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Cornhuskers and Hurricanes have played 10 times -- the past five in bowl games, four of which crowned the national champion. Most recently, Miami beat Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl. Since the Canes joined the ACC a decade ago, neither program has made it to a major bowl game.
So today's Take Two topic: Which is closer, Nebraska or Miami, to a return to the top of college football?
Take 1: Mitch Sherman
I'll go with the Huskers, though almost by default as Miami continues to feel its way through the new world order in college football, having lost five games or more in six of the past eight seasons. Sure, Miami uses a proven recruiting formula under Al Golden, but that's the problem. Florida State does it better. And so does half of the SEC.
Some might make similar claims about Nebraska. After all, the Huskers play in the Big Ten, where Ohio State resonates more deeply with recruits, and Penn State has seized momentum in recent months.
At least the Huskers have stability. Say what you want about coach Bo Pelini's lack of championships, but his teams have played in league title games three times in his six years, and he's never won fewer than nine games. Those 9-4 and 10-4 records do little to soothe the feelings of Nebraska fans who long for the glory years, but that era is long gone.
This week, Nebraska can take some solace in knowing that it's closer, by the numbers, to regaining elite status than Miami. And the weak Big Ten, despite conventional logic, might help Nebraska, which has upgraded its talent while others in the conference have not.
A win over Miami would complete an unbeaten nonconference season. Hurdles remain in the league, but for the Huskers, a re-emergence nationally is closer than many envision.
Take 2: Matt Fortuna
The idea that Miami has not played in a single ACC championship game yet is perplexing. Instead, the men's basketball team is the one that can claim a league title. Go figure.
Looking down the road, though, I think the Hurricanes have the more direct path back to their glory days, or at least at getting closer to what they once were. For one: Location, location, location. There is simply too much talent in Miami for this program ever to fall on down times. Golden, in his fourth year, has taken advantage of this, on pace for his fourth straight top-15 recruiting class. Let's not forget that this was also a program that was operating under the black cloud of the Nevin Shapiro scandal for two-plus years.
The same argument that the Big Ten provides a clearer path for Nebraska can be used for the ACC and Miami; the Coastal Division is a mess. But the most promising aspect for the Canes may be just that: promise.
Yes, fans want more out of this regime, which has lacked some punch at times. But there is still time to clean things up and for Miami -- which, we should note, has had some pretty awful luck with injuries offensively -- to improve. What Pelini has done in Lincoln is no small task, and I do think he is taken for granted, but I wonder if he has maxed out there. That may be tough to accept for a fan base that is so used to dominance, but as you said, that era appears gone.
What isn't gone is the talent in Florida, and in the Southeast. By virtue of its location, and by surviving a potentially program-crumbling scandal, Miami at least has the upside to make a return to the top of the college football world a possibility in the not-so-distant future.