Could Nebraska Become Texas to OSU?
Despite anything Bret Bielema has said, NU fans have had generally cordial relations with other fans. Sure, you could come up with some pretty extreme exceptions, but there generally hasn't been the kind of angst that results in tree-killing (a la Alabama-Auburn) or genital mutilation (a la Oklahoma-Texas) or murder (a la Clemson-South Carolina). That's not to say there aren't people who hate Husker fans. Make no mistake, there are. The stated reasons for hatred are often attributable to things other than the scoreboard, but it's usually a team that beats you that gets under your skin the most. No one in Nebraska had issues with Kansas State fans or Texas fans - until they started beating the Huskers. Ohio State fans swallowed a bitter defeat in Lincoln last year. An NU win at the Horseshoe this season might be downright unbearable. The disappointment wouldn't just be directed at their Buckeyes, surely their fans would come to dislike all things Husker a great deal as well.
The distaste for Texas truly started with a gut-wrenching defeat in the Big 12 Championship game in the first year of conference play. A team Husker fans never gave much thought to had all of a sudden put a damper on a promising season. Sure, 2011 was already off to a disappointing start for OSU fans, but the loss in Lincoln quickly took things from bad to worse. The next loss for NU came at home to an underdog Texas team to end a long streak of home wins. The Buckeye streak is not as long, but they still likely won't take well to a defeat at home when they're favored. From there, it may take a few more NU victories but you can see how little time it can take to develop distaste for an opponent.
The True Rival
The difference here, of course, is that Ohio State has had a true and enduring rivalry with Michigan. The fact that the Wolverines won the game a year ago also probably keeps the bad feelings alive for Buckeye fans. Nebraska had some great history with Oklahoma. As the Big 12 was formed, the games with Colorado had become a spirited series as well. But a crater left after Switzer's departure and an interruption of the series cooled things with the Sooners. Likewise, CU went from contender to punchline soon after Bill McCartney retired. But what if OSU quickly regains the upper hand in their series with Michigan? What if the one conference foe that seemed to have their number was the Huskers? Pretty soon, wouldn't Buckeye fans rue the day Nebraska joined the Big Ten?
Anything's possible. If the price of victory over OSU is to be villified, then it seems like a small one to pay. Of course, consistently beating a top program like Ohio State is no easy task. It also seems unlikely that the conference championship games and the Big Ten headquarters will be moved to Nebraska any time soon. Or that NU will demand changes in eligibility rules to hurt the Buckeyes. Or that the Huskers will start getting larger conference payouts than all of the other Big Ten schools. Or that they'll launch a Husker Network to compete with the Big Ten Network. In that sense, no matter how many games NU might win, Nebraska will never be as loathsome as Texas.