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Thursday, January 3
Updated: January 4, 4:05 AM ET
Bellotti, Oregon just wanted a chance

By Wayne Drehs

PASADENA, Calif. -- Oregon coach Mike Bellotti left the Rose Bowl with his 7-year-old son at his side Thursday night and couldn't help but wonder, 'What if?'

What if his Ducks, who throttled Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday, would have been given a shot at top-ranked Miami? Would the result have been any different than the 37-14 shellacking that Nebraska took?

Even Bellotti doesn't know the answer. But after watching the Huskers, he believes his team deserved the chance.

Mike Bellotti
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti just wanted a chance to play Miami.
"Nebraska is a great team and a great program, but obviously I feel we would have given them a better game than what we saw tonight," Bellotti said as the final minutes ticked off. "Miami was clearly the better team. And it would have taken something special to beat them. But I would have liked that chance."

The argument over whether or not Nebraska was worthy started the second the BCS computer spit the Huskers out as the team that would face Miami. After losing its regular season finale 62-36 against Colorado, some wondered how the Huskers were chosen over the Buffaloes or Ducks.

But from the moment the matchup was set until the final Rose Bowl press conference on Tuesday, the Huskers screamed they belonged. After Thursday's game, though, even Nebraska coach Frank Solich seemed a little unsure.

"We didn't play well enough to make it a competitive game at the end, or even by the end of the first half," Solich said. "Certainly it was not the match that everyone dreamed of. Whether or not a matchup with anyone else would have been different, I don't know. I don't know that anyone is as balanced as Miami when they are playing at the top of their game like they were tonight."

Bellotti only wishes he would have had the opportunity. Instead, he was left in the Rose Bowl stands, hoping that Nebraska would pull off the upset. Though the Huskers would have automatically topped the ESPN/USA Today Top 25, there was growing sentiment that a Nebraska win would catapult the Ducks to No. 1 in the AP writers' poll.

For Bellotti, who walked around the stadium in a green Oregon letterman's jacket and a red Nebraska hat, watching a game with huge implications on his ballclub was a strange predicament.

"It was very different, without question," Bellotti said. "Before the game, people were coming up to me and saying, 'Good Luck.' And I was like, 'Good luck with what?' I'm not playing anything.

"I didn't know either team's personnel and had never watched either of them play, so I was sitting there, hoping for a particular outcome through mere cheering and watching. It was nerve-racking. But I guess that's life as a fan."

And life isn't always fair.

Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at He can be reached at

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