ORLANDO - Eighteen is the magic number for Nebraska in this Metro Magic Kingdom that includes an invitation to the Capital One Bowl, so it's only fitting to offer up 18 Big Red tidbits to bowl you over before Monday's high noon Central Time kickoff:
1) Nebraska's matchup with South Carolina will be the Huskers' 18th bowl game against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference. NU is 12-5 all-time against SEC foes in bowl games. The Huskers are 7-4 against Top 10-ranked SEC teams like the Gamecocks are right now. Nebraska, in fact, once won 11 straight bowl games against SEC opponents over a 30-year period (1969-99).
2) Nebraska leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 3-0, winning a home-and-home series in 1986 and '87 and beating the Gamecocks, 28-6, in 1964 when Frank Solich scored on a 41-yard touchdown run. Kent McCloughan, Preston Love and Harry Wilson scored the Huskers' other three touchdowns.
3) Steve Spurrier is 0-1 against Nebraska, losing 62-24, in the 1995 National Championship Game in the Fiesta Bowl when he was head coach at Florida. Bo Pelini has not faced Spurrier as a head coach, but Pelini was defensive coordinator at LSU when the Tigers beat the Gamecocks, 28-16, in 2007.
4) Nebraska has played 19 bowl games in the state of Florida, winning 8 of 17 Orange Bowls, winning one Gator Bowl and losing one Citrus Bowl (the precursor to the Capital One Bowl), giving the Huskers 9 wins and 10 losses all-time in Florida bowl games.
5) South Carolina is a marquee matchup not only because it is a Top 10 team, but also because the Gamecocks will be Nebraska's 10th opponent this season to make a bowl game. The Huskers have beaten six bowl teams (Washington, Wyoming, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa) and have lost to two BCS bowl teams (Wisconsin and Michigan), plus Northwestern.
6) Nebraska's 49 all-time bowl appearances rank fourth nationally behind Alabama (60), Texas (51) and Tennessee (50). Nebraska and USC each have 49.
7) Nebraska's NCAA record 35 consecutive bowl appearances remained intact when Michigan's 33 consecutive bowl-game streak ended in 2008.
8) Nebraska has an NCAA record of 17 consecutive January bowl appearances, achieved from 1981 to 1997.
9) Nebraska's 29 all-time appearances in BCS bowl games rank fourth nationally behind USC (36) and Oklahoma and Alabama (both with 30)
10) Nebraska's all-time record in BCS bowls: 8-9 in the Orange, 2-4 in the Fiesta, 3-1 in the Sugar and 0-2 in the Rose
11) The Capital One Bowl will be the 15th different bowl in which the Huskers have played. The others besides the four BCS bowls are the Cotton (1-3), Alamo (3-0), Sun (2-0), Holiday (1-2), Liberty (1-0), Astro-Bluebonnet (1-0), Gotham (1-0), Gator (1-0), Independence (0-1) and Citrus (0-1).
12) Nebraska's best bowl game win streak reached six straight from 1969 to 1974. It started in the Sun Bowl, included three consecutive Orange Bowl wins and ended with wins in the Cotton and Sugar Bowls.
13) Nebraska's most difficult bowl game stretch was seven consecutive losses from 1986 to 1993, losing three Fiesta Bowls, two Orange, one Sugar and one Citrus.
14) Bob Devaney's all-time bowl record was 6-3. Even though his teams won two national championships, they missed bowl games in 1967 and '68. Fellow Hall-of-Fame coach Tom Osborne won 12 bowl games and lost 13, but won three national titles. Frank Solich was 2-3 in bowl games at NU before leading Ohio to its first bowl win in the school's history. Bo Pelini is 3-1 all-time in bowl games. Bill Callahan was 1-1.
15) In addition to its 12-5 all-time record against the SEC in bowl games, Nebraska is 5-11 against the ACC, 3-1 against the Big Ten, 2-1 against the Big 12, 1-0 against Notre Dame and 0-1 against Conference USA.
16) Nebraska's best bowl record by decade was 7-2 from 1970-79.
17) Of Nebraska's five national championships, four were accomplished in Orange Bowl wins (over LSU in 1970, Alabama in '71, Miami in '94 and Tennessee in '97). NU's only national title outside Miami came in Tempe, Ariz., when Osborne's Huskers beat Spurrier's Gators, 62-24.
18) The best all-time bowl game performance in Husker history? No debate whatsoever. Johnny Rodgers absolutely torched Notre Dame in the '73 Orange Bowl after he won the Heisman Trophy in '72. In the only game he ever started at I-back, Rodgers rushed for three touchdowns, caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Dave Humm and threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Frosty Anderson. The score was 40-6 with six minutes left in the third quarter when Devaney called off the dogs, confident that Johnny the Jet had punctuated his career with the biggest exclamation point in college football history. Nearly four decades later, that performance remains unparalleled.
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Voices from Husker Nation
Eighteen cheers for your column today! I've never laid my eyes on a piece of your writing without being, informed, entertained, and, as with today's offering, moved. Is NU's number of different bowls played in a record? It surely must be close. When I lived in NYC, I sat shivering through the Gotham Bowl, the first bowl game Nebraska ever won. Among the small crowd was Nebraska native Johnny Carson. George Mira was brilliant that day; we were just better. Being a traditionalist, I'm sorry to see the long-lived NU-KU rivalry go by the boards ... and, of course, the battles with the Sooners. It astonishes me that the greed of one school, Texas, could create such mayhem. May their numbers decrease. If nothing else but the Big Ten Network and its extensive coverage, I am pleased with our departure from the Big 12. It seems that every week there is a Husker game in some sport being televised. And it seems appropriate to have Minnesota back on our schedule. Happy New Year! Frank Jacobs, Class of '51, Burbank, California