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Wednesday December 29, 1999
12th Man Index: Tennessee vs. Nebraska
By Alex Laracy
ABC Sports Online

The Tennessee Volunteers and the Cornhuskers of Nebraska will square off in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) in a matchup of two of college football's perennial powerhouses. Ranked No. 5 and No. 3 respectively, neither team has national title hopes, however, both yearn to enter the millennium with an impressive BCS bowl showing. ABC Sports Online researched the intangibles involved in this rivalry to see who will have the edge on Sunday.

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Campus location Scenic Knoxville is located in close proximity to the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, however, boasts little else other than being proud host for its beloved Volunteers. Lincoln, Neb. Students assert that the "second biggest city in the Big XII" boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the nation among cities its size. But if you don't follow college football or have a heartfelt fascination with corn, perhaps your interests would be better suited elsewhere.

Advantage: Push

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Mascot The legacy of "Smokey" the coon hound dates back eight generations. Smokey has endured a tumultuous tenure in Knoxville, his murky past including a dognapping by Kentucky students in '55, a nearly-fatal confrontation with the Baylor Bear in '57, heat exhaustion in a '91 UCLA game, and a (rumored) nasty case of worms in the fall of '95. One of the two Nebraska mascots, "Herbie the Husker," was banished a few years ago by athletic director Bill Byrne because he felt the image of the mascot did not market elsewhere in the country. Byrne's decision drew criticism from the mascot's loyalists, hence Herbie made a comeback in late 1995.

Both Herbie the Husker and John Travolta made big comebacks in '95.
Advantage: Push. Herbie's return came roughly around the same time John Travolta made his own monumental comeback in "Pulp Fiction."

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Alumni in the NFL Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is perhaps the NFL's next superstar, while the Jaguars' James Stewart, the Broncos' Dale Carter, the Bengals' Carl Pickens and the Falcons' Chuck Smith are all Pro Bowl caliber performers. The Huskers boast standout linemen Neil Smith, Will Shields, Grant Wistrom and the Peter brothers, however are lacking stars at other positions.

Advantage: Tennessee

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Tailgating The "Volunteer Navy" consists of roughly 200 boats of all shapes and sizes on the Tennessee River in a giant, floating tailgate party. A lack of adequate parking space results in most students and fans gravitating toward the local bars to prime themselves for the game.

Advantage: Tennessee

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Fan traditions Many fans smuggle a pint of "Dickel" into Neyland Stadium to get pickled on gamedays. (Dickel is a pungent brand of southern whiskey that is the slog-of-choice for many at UT). Perhaps the most loyal and proud group of fans in all of college football, Husker devotees are known to applaud Nebraska's fallen opponents as they leave the stadium. While some opponents find the act condescending, Husker loyalists insist it's out of respect.

Advantage: Nebraska

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Error-prone alumni In September, Michael J. McKinney of San Diego filed suit against former Vol Chris Mims, a 300-pound defensive end with the San Diego Chargers. McKinney said the 300-pound Mims shoved his face into a wall, stole his tacos, and struck him twice with a belt after he spotted Mims urinating in the parking lot of Taco Bell. Gifted, but troubled, former Huskers running back Lawrence Phillips has been arrested numerous times for assaulting his girlfriend, drunken driving, and various other probation violations, yet he still manages jobs in the NFL when he's not on its suspension list.

Chris Mims is not afraid to take your tacos.
Advantage: Neither -- Public urination and belt-whipping is bad enough, but leave a man's tacos alone.

Category Tennessee Nebraska
Heisman Trophy winners Amazingly, Tennessee boasts four runner-ups for the esteemed trophy -- Peyton Manning ('97), Heath Shuler ('94), Johnny Majors ('56) and Hank Lauricella ('51) -- but no Vol has ever actually won it. Running back Johnny Rodgers took the award in 1972 and Husker career rushing leader Mike Rozier followed his lead in 1983.

Advantage: Nebraska

As far as intangibles which won't matter at all come Jan. 2, these two teams are even-Steven.


News & Features

Also See:
Alabama gives DuBose contract extension

True freshman leads 'Bama defense

Tee Martin misses practice with viral infection

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Nebraska

Tennessee vs. Nebraska

Wistrom doubtful for Tostitos Fiesta Bowl


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