ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Nebraska can finally thank TCU in a big way for helping the Cornhuskers get into a BCS national championship game - by returning the favor eight years later.
In an ironic twist, No. 21 Nebraska could help clear the way for fourth-ranked TCU getting a chance to play for the national title - if the Cornhuskers can upset No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 championship game Saturday night.
"I can say this, we're not playing this game for them," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Friday. "But I'll gladly shake (coach Gary Patterson's) hand if we're able to help him out. But what happened in 2001, I wasn't even in college football at that time, so I'm not real familiar with that one there."
Well, Nebraska beat TCU 21-7 in the 2001 season opener that was Patterson's first regular season game with the Frogs.
TCU won only six games in 2001, but ended the regular season with wins over ranked Louisville and then at Southern Miss just days before the final BCS standings came out. Those late wins helped bolster Nebraska's strength of schedule - then a factor in the formula - enough to jump over Colorado for No. 2 in the final BCS standings, two weeks after the Buffaloes had beaten the Huskers 62-36 to claim the Big 12 North title.
Colorado even won the Big 12 championship, beating then third-ranked Texas in the last title game played in the Dallas area. But the Buffs still finished 0.05 points behind in the final BCS standings to Nebraska.
It all meant that Nebraska got to play for the national championship without even getting a chance to play for the Big 12 title. The Huskers wound up losing to Miami in the Rose Bowl.
While TCU (12-0) is already assured of finally being a BCS buster this year, the Frogs could become the first team from a conference without an automatic BCS berth to play for the national championship. No such team has ever been this high in the standings this late in the season.
Several things have to happen for the Frogs to get their first national title shot since 1938, but Nebraska has to beat Texas (12-0) in the Big 12.
Then the Frogs have to say ahead of Cincinnati in the final BCS standings and hope the stage isn't set up for an SEC title game rematch - remember, No. 1 Florida plays No. 2 Alabama on Saturday.
"(Patterson) has done as good a job coaching as anybody in the country," Texas coach Mack Brown said Friday. "The way our system is set up, who knows until we see how it plays out."
Brown called Patterson a 'great friend of mine." Plus, Patterson's wife, Kelsey, went to school at Texas, where she worked in the football office and later for Longhorns athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
Publicly, Patterson isn't rooting against Texas - no matter what that could mean for his Horns.
"I have to stay unbiased. I am in the state of Texas. I do have Texas fans that are also TCU fans," Patterson said this week. "I'm going to let them decide that on the field and keep my comments to myself. ... I live with a converted Horn that's a converted Frog. We'll just leave it as it is."