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Sugar Bowl will match Big 12 and SEC

By Blair Kerkhoff, The Kansas City Star –

The Big 12 football champion will have a new destination starting with the 2014 season — the Sugar Bowl.

And Nebraska could return to Arrowhead Stadium for a regular season game next season.

Football scheduling was the talk of college football on Tuesday as the future landscape begins to take shape.

The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference announced that their champions will meet in New Orleans, if they’re not involved in the four-team playoff for the national championship.

“It’s a good day for us,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We’ll play our champion against the champion of the SEC, and that’s no small task taking on the best league in the country.”

The first Sugar Bowl between the leagues will be played Jan. 1, 2015, and be broadcast on ESPN after the Rose Bowl. The agreement is for 12 years and runs concurrently with the contract of the college football playoff.

The Sugar Bowl becomes a game that had been unofficially known as the Champions Bowl when the agreement between the conferences was announced in May.

If this were 2014, the top four BCS teams — Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame — would be in the playoffs at bowl sites. The Sugar Bowl would pit the second-place teams from the Big 12 and SEC, and that would be Georgia vs. Oklahoma.

That is, if the Sugar Bowl isn’t one of the national semifinal games. In such a year, the game would not host a Big 12-SEC matchup.

When it all shakes out, college football is expected to have six major bowls. The Sugar, Rose and Orange bowls have been identified for the semifinal rotation, and the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls are expected to fill the lineup. Each year, two of those six will host the semifinals and the other four will pair highly rated teams.

With Tuesday’s announcement, the Sugar Bowl essentially becomes for the SEC and Big 12 what the Rose Bowl is for the Big Ten and Pac-12.

The Fiesta Bowl will lose the Big 12’s automatic tie-in, a relationship it has held since the league was formed in 1996.

Arlington, Texas, and Cowboys Stadium expressed interest in holding the SEC-Big 12 game. Look for Cowboys Stadium to be a front-runner for college football’s first national championship game, after the 2014 season. “More than any site in college football, Cowboys Stadium will be a regular site for the national championship game,” Bowlsby said.

ESPN will pay $80 million a year to televise the event, the network reported.

Hoops series next?

In announcing the Big 12’s new agreement with the Sugar Bowl and SEC, Bowlsby said the league s are also working on other joint partnerships, including a basketball challenge series.

If it comes off, the leagues would be pitted in the 2013-14 season.

“The next major initiative we’re undertaking is a men’s basketball challenge (that) will involve all 10 of our teams and at least 10 of their (14) teams,” Bowlsby said.

Ah, could that be the catalyst for bringing some old rivals back together? When Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC, both schools expressed a desire to continue series with Kansas and Texas. But the remaining Big 12 schools have resisted scheduling their old rivals.

The Big 12 and Pac-12 held a series of games, the Hardwood Series, for four years starting in 2007.Huskers to Arrowhead?

Nebraska and Southern Mississippi are in talks along with the Chiefs to bring next season’s game, scheduled for Sept. 7 in Hattiesburg, Miss., to Arrowhead Stadium.

The teams opened a three-game contract this season with the Cornhuskers winning 49-20 in Lincoln, the first loss in what has been a 0-9 season for the Golden Eagles. The teams also are scheduled to play in 2015 at Nebraska.

Nebraska has played twice to huge crowds in Kansas City. In 1998, the Huskers and Oklahoma State played before 79,555 in the first game played between major conference opponents at Arrowhead. Nebraska returned in 2006 for the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma and drew 80,031.

Nebraska and Oklahoma have agreed in principle to renew their rivalry in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Game of the Century, Cornhuskers athletic director Tom Osborne told the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. The 2021 game would be played in Norman, Okla., and the 2022 game in Lincoln.

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