The Nebraska Cornhuskers have had an interesting 2013 season so far. With only one loss to UCLA, it would seem that the Huskers should be ranked higher than No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 25 in the AP Top 25 Poll. However, Nebraska's strength of schedule is ultimately holding the team back.
November will be make or break for the Huskers. Nebraska currently sits on the outside looking in on a BCS bowl game. It's not completely impossible, but a BCS bid will come with its challenges for the Huskers.
|Record||AP Poll||USA Today Coaches Poll||S.O.S.||BCS Ranking|
|5-1, 2-0 B1G||25||21||119||24|
Associated Press, USA Today, Sagarin Rating
Biggest Obstacles to a BCS Berth
Strength of schedule is Nebraska's biggest obstacle to a BCS berth. Unfortunately, many of the teams the Huskers face in later October and November have already lost more than originally predicted. The Big Ten, as a whole, will now have to deal with the strength-of-schedule issue the conference has created for itself.
The USA Today Coaches Poll has been more kind to Nebraska than the AP poll. Since the USA Today Coaches Poll is the poll that factors into the BCS, Nebraska benefits. However, the coaches have the Huskers ranked steadily at No. 21. It would be a difficult climb into the Top 16 to receive an at-large bid.
Facing Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship is another big obstacle. An easy route to a BCS game for a Big Ten team would be winning the championship. It's going to be challenging for Nebraska to accomplish that feat, though.
Nebraska, ultimately, controls its own destiny. At this point, the Huskers need to win out to even have a chance at a BCS bowl game.
Additionally, Nebraska needs all teams on its 2013 schedule to keep winning. Unfortunately, Northwestern's loss to Minnesota does nothing but harm Nebraska's strength of schedule. UCLA's loss to Stanford isn't as problematic since the Cardinal are also highly ranked, but the Bruins do need to keep winning.
The tricky part for Nebraska is that the entire Big Ten conference is collectively taking a hit to strength of schedule. Nebraska was going to rely on November to help boost its strength of schedule, but it's looking more and more grim each week.
|Sat, Oct. 26||@ Minnesota|
|Sat, Nov. 2||Northwestern|
|Sat, Nov. 9||@ Michigan|
|Sat, Nov. 16||Michigan State|
|Sat, Nov. 23||@ Penn State|
|Fri, Nov. 29||Iowa|
The Big Picture
Nebraska does have the Big Ten Championship to sway voters. Pending any major upsets, the Huskers are likely to face Ohio State in Indianapolis. However, the likelihood of Nebraska winning the championship is slim.
There was a point in time where the Buckeyes could, realistically, have made it to the national title game. If so, the loser of the Big Ten Championship would have received the bid to the Rose Bowl. However, Florida State and Oregon have lessened the likelihood of that happening.
With that said, Nebraska will have that one extra game. Win or lose, a team that makes it to a league championship does get a certain level of credit, and that could benefit the Huskers.
It won't earn Nebraska an at-large bid, but it will set them up for a bowl game on New Year's Day.
Final Bowl Prediction
The Huskers will play South Carolina in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on January 1, 2014.
Follow Bleacher Report's Nebraska Cornhuskers lead writer Erin Sorensen on Twitter at @erinsorensen.