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UO plays waiting game for bowl foe

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Holiday Bowl, salivating for a week over the prospect of inviting Nebraska to San Diego, will have to wait a little longer.

During a conference call, Big 12 athletic directors declined to release the No. 13 Cornhuskers from consideration for other bowls -- namely the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

It's killing all of us to wait like this, John Reid, executive director of the Holiday Bowl, said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Nebraska officials said they're abiding by an agreement scripted last summer that bars league schools from accepting bowl invitations or commenting on bowl prospects until after the Big 12 championship game.

Kansas State plays Texas A&M on Saturday for the Big 12 title in St. Louis. That means a Holiday Bowl invitation -- or any bowl invitation -- for the Huskers (9-3) won't come before Sunday.

Earlier this week the Holiday Bowl invited No. 21 Oregon (8-3), contingent on UCLA beating Miami on Saturday.

A UCLA victory would likely put the Bruins into the Fiesta Bowl and preserve a Pac-10 pecking order that currently has Arizona going to the Rose Bowl. The Holiday Bowl has the No. 2 selection from the Pac-10 and the No. — pick from the Big 12.

Previously, Holiday Bowl officials had made no secret of their interest in Nebraska. But after the decision by the Big 12 athletic directors, Reid said he was no longer at liberty to discuss Nebraska's allure.

You can draw your own inferences in our interest to them and ours to them, Reid said. Out of respect for other teams contending for bowl berths, we've decided not to say anything.

After the Holiday Bowl invited Oregon on Monday, Reid was asked about a possible Oregon-Nebraska matchup.

We think it would be terrific, he said. It would have a lot of national appeal.

The Cotton Bowl selects the second school from the Big 12 and in theory could take Nebraska. However, speculation around Dallas suggests the Cotton Bowl wants Texas.

The Cotton Bowl reportedly wants the Longhorns against Arkansas in a rematch of rivals from the old Southwest Conference. It also would feature Heisman Trophy hopeful Ricky Williams of Texas.

Wherever Nebraska goes, it will be the first time since the 1980 Sun Bowl that the Huskers play a bowl game earlier than New Year's Eve.