On Wednesday, the University of Nebraska announced that it had scheduled six home games for the future. The caliber of opponent hasn’t sat well with some of the fan base.
The Huskers will play South Dakota State in 2020, 2024 and 2028, North Dakota in 2022 and 2026, and Georgia Southern in 2022. Yes, Georgia Southern is technically a member of the Sun Belt conference, but let’s look past that for a moment.
While those additions don’t look like more than glorified scrimmages, they really shouldn’t. In the world of modern-day college football, this is exactly what not only Nebraska should be doing, but every school that has big-time aspirations.
This is hardly anything new for programs in major conferences that want to get from the season opener to legitimately being a part of the national championship picture relatively unscathed, if at all. Alabama has lined up the likes of Mercer, Chattanooga, Charleston Southern and Western Carolina in the past and guess what? They’ll keep doing it.
To no surprise, the Tide has been able to shoehorn these teams into the end of their regular season providing the opportunity for the starters to rest and for other players to get live reps.
Clemson faced off against The Citadel this year and Georgia tangled with Samford. That’s three of the four participants in this year’s College Football Playoff that played a team outside of the FBS.
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has made one thing perfectly clear: If you can go undefeated in a Power 5 conference with a championship game featuring division leaders, you’re in. Why make things more difficult than they have to be?
Obviously, Alabama has a better argument for scheduling these teams than Clemson or Georgia as they play in perhaps the most difficult division in college football. However, their actions shouldn’t be chastised as they’re merely following the unofficial guidelines laid out by the selection committee.
Considering that the Big Ten West is arguably one of the weakest divisions in college football, should Scott Frost turn the Nebraska football program around, he’ll be setting up the Huskers’ seasons to hinge on fewer games.
For example, let’s examine the Big Red’s 2020 schedule. By this point, Frost’s offense should be humming at maximum efficiency. Nebraska opens the season at home against Big Ten foe Purdue before welcoming Cincinnati and Central Michigan. There are currently two open dates on the schedule: September 26 and October 17, both Saturdays. Pick a date for SDSU.
On October 3, the Huskers travel to face Northwestern before returning home to play Illinois. Come October 24, they head to Piscataway to take on Rutgers.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Nebraska will then face Ohio State in Columbus, Penn State in Lincoln, Iowa in Iowa City and Wisconsin in Madison before finishing off the regular season at home versus Minnesota.
Long story short: Frost can provide his team with maximum momentum through those first seven games before heading through the meat of the schedule, partially thanks to South Dakota State being served up on a platter.
The Big Ten has been kind enough to slap Ohio State on the Huskers’ schedule over and over. Consider this spitting in the eye of the scheduling gods and putting the Big Red in a better position to both win the conference and maybe — just maybe — be in line for a playoff berth down the line.
Yes, the tickets to see the Huskers play SDSU, North Dakota and Georgia Southern will be the ones raffled off and given to co-workers. They’ll be used to take kids to their first Nebraska football game. Yes, the stadium will still be full and yes, Big Red fans should still be excited about seeing the track meets as ultimately, a better record increases the odds of a better postseason bid.
Many Nebraska fans are quickly being shoved into the reality of how to win big in today’s college football climate. This is one of the aspects that some may just have to hold their nose during while begging for a running clock in the second half.