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Wed Apr 12, 2000

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Sunday January 2, 2000
Postcard From The Road: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
By Russel Brooks
Special to ABC Sports Online

The new Millennium came in with a bang in Tempe, Ariz. on Friday night. There was a huge block party directly outside of our hotel. Pop favorite Sugar Ray and rock legend Billy Idol were the featured performers. The sky was filled with fireworks as midnight struck. The streets were filled, the young ladies were dressed to impress, and drinks were plentiful. It even rained briefly for the first time in over a hundred days. Unfortunately, we had to call it quits relatively early because we had to get up the next day and prepare for a football game.

And quite a game it should be. Although the national championship is not on the line, pride is, and that should prove to be sufficient motivation for a hard-hitting contest. In pre-game interviews, both teams suggested that they expect a very physical game. Tennessee especially wants to extend a little payback to Nebraska because the Vols believe they were embarrassed and physically dominated by the Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl two years ago. They are determined to prevent that from happening again.

Pay attention to the use of the chop block by Nebraska, which Tennessee has repeatedly described as "cheap shots" taken by Nebraska. One Volunteer linebacker said he would prefer the Cornhuskers to come directly at him and play some "smash-mouth" football. Ordinarily, you would think that Tennessee, especially on defense, would prefer to emphasize its speed, rather than power. Fast they may be, but Tennessee seems to be spoiling to show that they are bigger and stronger than two years ago, and can overpower Nebraska if necessary.

Nebraska takes great pride in the fact they made it back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl after overcoming early season turmoil. According to quarterback Eric Crouch, their struggles had him wondering whether it made sense for him to continue his playing career at Nebraska. After some soul-searching, he concluded there was not a better place to play than for the Cornhuskers, and he stuck with the team, and of course he and his teammates turned their season around. He gives the majority of the credit for the team's success to head coach Frank Solich, whose steadiness under fire served to inspire his players.

A key figure in the Nebraska attack should be wide receiver Bobby Newcombe. In their practices, it's obvious that they plan to get the ball into his hands as often as possible. And as the former starting quarterback, should anything happen to Crouch, they will turn to him to lead the team the rest of the way.

Calling the signals for the Volunteers will be Tee Martin, who was sick with the flu earlier this week. He says he's back up to full speed. The senior from Mobile, Ala. plans to make the jump to playing in the NFL next season. He speaks to Peyton Manning, his predecessor as the Tennessee quarterback, on a weekly basis, and in view of Peyton's success this year, he should be charging a fee for his advice. Maybe Peyton will get a share of Tee's rookie contract.

We've had a great time down here, the weather has been beautiful, the locals have been great, and we expect a great game. Now, let's get it on!


News & Features

Also See:
No. 9 Michigan State 37, No. 10 Florida 34

No. 4 Wisconsin 17, No. 21 Stanford 9

Notebook: Another record day by Dayne

Surprises all around on New Year's Day

No. 8 Michigan 35, No. 6 Alabama 34


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