Two teams that found their way to the Top 10 in late October before stumbling down the stretch will face off in Nashville’s Music City Bowl. Tennessee will make its second appearance in the MCB, the first since the infamous loss to North Carolina in 2010 after the clock had struck zero at the end of regulation. The opponent is Nebraska, a program which has shown up in plenty of Vol nightmares from the late 1990’s. Tennessee and Nebraska were originally scheduled to meet in a home-and-home series including this season, signed when Phillip Fulmer was still on the sidelines. Now they’ll get their chance in Nashville.
The narratives are similar for two proud programs, both looking for their first conference championship of this millennium after Nebraska shared a national title in 1997 and Tennessee won the first BCS title in 1998. The Cornhuskers got there in ‘97 on the strength of a 42-17 decimation of Tennessee in the Orange Bowl; Nebraska also beat the ‘99 Vols in the Fiesta Bowl 31-21.
This year Tennessee was 5-0 and ranked #9 before losing on the road at #8 Texas A&M in double overtime. Nebraska was 7-0 and #7 before losing on the road at #11 Wisconsin in overtime. The Vols followed up their loss with a 49-10 beat down from #1 Alabama. The Huskers followed theirs with a 62-3 drilling from then-#6 Ohio State. And while Tennessee lost to South Carolina by three and Vanderbilt by 11 down the stretch, Nebraska lost to Iowa 40-10.
They’ll meet to salvage what’s left of their seasons on Friday, December 30 at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN. We’ll have a full preview shortly, but for more on Nebraska check out SB Nation’s excellent Corn Nation.