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Husker Football Notes, 11/12: Bowl prospects still up in air

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BY STEVEN M. SIPPLE / Lincoln Journal Star

Sunday, Nov 12, 2006 - 12:11:51 am CST

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Although it’s still too early for Nebraska fans to make definitive bowl plans, the picture became clearer Saturday.

After a comeback win against Texas A&M, the Huskers perhaps positioned themselves for a return to the Holiday Bowl — assuming, of course, that they fail to win the Big 12 championship game and advance to the Fiesta Bowl.

The Holiday Bowl is third in the Big 12 bowl pecking order behind the BCS and Cotton Bowl. Although Larry Huppert of the Holiday Bowl selection committee wasn’t ready to proclaim Nebraska a lock for his game, he said Saturday that the Huskers “are very high on our radar.”

“We saw the way Nebraska came out (to San Diego) in 1998,” Huppert said of the Huskers’ last Holiday Bowl appearance, a 23-20 loss to the Dick Tomey-led Arizona Wildcats.

At least one issue could block Nebraska’s path to San Diego. If Southern California ends up as the Pacific-10 runner-up — which is contractually bound to the Holiday Bowl — the Huskers likely would have to head elsewhere, Huppert said, because the teams met earlier this year and are scheduled to play next season.

“We would probably go with the wishes of the schools and conferences,” Huppert said.

The Huskers (8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12) have one regular-season game remaining, Nov. 24 against Colorado. If NU beats Colorado and loses a good game in the Big 12 title contest, Big Red still may have a chance to land in the Cotton Bowl.

Many pundits are speculating that the Cotton Bowl is leaning toward Oklahoma.

However, “I don’t think we have any lean at all,” said Cotton Bowl vice chairman Tommy Bain, who attended Saturday’s A&M-Nebraska game. “We just have to let it all play out.”

As for Nebraska, he said, “The question is how they represent themselves in the (Big 12) championship game.“

In other words, stay tuned.

Injury update

Nebraska sophomore wide receiver Nate Swift was “dinged on the head” after his 17-yard reception in the first quarter, Husker offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. Although Swift didn’t return to the game, he apparently wasn’t injured seriously.

“I think he got knocked out temporarily,” Norvell said.

Meanwhile, starting offensive tackle Matt Slauson suffered a high ankle sprain late in the third quarter and didn’t return to the game until the game-winning PAT.

“It’s good that we’re going to have a week off,” said Husker offensive line coach Dennis Wagner.

Where’s Hickman?

After starting last week’s home win against Missouri, true freshman guard Jacob Hickman never entered Saturday’s game.

“We got into a rhythm with the other guards, and we didn’t want to put Jacob into an environment where he couldn’t survive,” Wagner said referring to starting guards Mike Huff and Andy Christensen, who went the distance.

Hickman’s arrest earlier in the week apparently wasn’t a factor in his playing time, or lack thereof. He was cited by campus police for theft of services and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, following a parking-garage incident.

According to a campus police spokesman, Hickman allegedly tried to drive out of the parking garage on Stadium Drive without paying. In doing so, he allegedly broke off the gate that swings upward after payment.

“We’re addressing that issue,” Callahan said Saturday.

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