1996 Orange Bowl (December)

1996 Orange Bowl (December)

The 63rd Orange Bowl, also known as the 1996 Orange Bowl, was a 1996–1997 Bowl Alliance game played on December 31, 1996 between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Virginia Tech Hokies. Virginia Tech, champions of the Big East Conference, came into the game with a 10–1 record and #10 AP ranking, whereas Nebraska, members of the Big 12 Conference, came into the game with a 10–2 and No. 6 ranking. In a high-scoring affair, Nebraska defeated Virginia Tech, 41–21.

Due to Bowl Alliance (predecessor to the Bowl Championship Series) rules, the Orange Bowl following the 1996 season was played on December 31, instead of January 1 or later. This marked the only time that an Orange Bowl was played prior to the start of the new year and created the unique circumstance of having two Orange Bowls in the same year—one in January, following the 1995 season, and the other in December, following the 1996 season. The Orange Bowl Committee, which had the fourth and sixth selections of eligible Bowl Alliance teams, selected Big East champions Virginia Tech and Nebraska, an at-large selection that appeared to be a national championship game contender before its loss to Texas in the inaugural Big 12 Championship Game.

The weeks before the game were filled with controversy, as both teams had multiple players arrested or charged with crimes. Despite having lost their last game before the Orange Bowl, Nebraska was heavily favored over Virginia Tech, as spread bettors favored the Cornhuskers by 16 or 17 points, depending on the source used. The Cornhuskers had won the 1994 and 1995 national championships, and presented an imposing history when compared with that of Virginia Tech, which had posted its most important win in school history at the end of the previous season, defeating Texas in the 1995 Sugar Bowl.

On December 31, the weather was clear and warm at the start of the game, though a light rain began to fall in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech scored first, taking a 7–0 lead at the end of the first quarter—its only advantage in the game. In the second quarter, Nebraska scored three times for 17 points, taking a 17–7 lead before Virginia Tech quarterback Jim Druckenmiller threw a touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining in the first half, cutting Nebraska's lead to 17–14. In the third quarter, the two teams alternated scores, with Nebraska maintaining a three or 10-point lead throughout. At the end of the third quarter, Nebraska had a 31–21 lead. In the final quarter of the game, Nebraska scored 10 unanswered points as the Cornhuskers used their large number of backup players to advantage. The final score was 41–21, Nebraska.

Read more about 1996 Orange Bowl (December):  Team Selection, Pregame Buildup, Game Summary, Statistical Summary, Postgame Effects

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1996 Orange Bowl (December) - Postgame Effects
... Nebraska's win pushed it to a final 1996record of 11–2, while Virginia Tech's loss dropped it to 10–2 on the season ... Thanks to its appearance in the OrangeBowl and a revenue-sharing agreement with other Big East schools, Virginia Tech earned $3.981 million for playing in the 1996 ... of that total came directly from the bowl while the remaining $481,000 came from the revenue-sharing pool generated by all the Big East teams that participated in bowlgames ...

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