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Nebraska Football: 10 Worst Opponents of All Time

Andrew SteierContributor IIIJanuary 1, 2017

Nebraska Football: 10 Worst Opponents of All Time

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    The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ 73-7 victory over the Idaho State Bengals was the most lopsided blowout for the Big Red in years. But where does that Idaho State team rank among the worst football teams Nebraska has ever played?

    The following are the 10 worst opponents to ever face the Huskers. While the margin of Nebraska’s victory obviously weighed heavily into these rankings, the opposing team’s overall season record and strength of schedule was also used to determine how incompetent the team truly was. Although comparing teams across such different time periods is difficult, each team's ability (or inability) was judged relative to the other college football teams that year, since any team from the 1800's would obviously be overmatched by even the worst teams of today.

10. Minnesota Golden Gophers, 1983

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    This Golden Gopher team was actually 1-0 after a narrow road victory against Rice when the Cornhuskers paid them a visit, but things turned south quickly for Minnesota.

    The Huskers trounced them 84-13 to begin a nine-game losing streak that would last the rest of the season for the Golden Gophers. And the only team the Gophers could remotely compete with the rest of the season was a 3-8 Indiana Hoosiers team that was also being kicked around by almost every other Big Ten team.

9. Kansas State Wildcats, 1988

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    Despite Nebraska’s 48-3 victory over this pitiful Wildcat team, what the Huskers did should be considered kind. This winless Kansas State team came within a touchdown of only two of its opponents all season in 1988 and allowed over half of its opponents to eclipse 45 points. 

    Unfortunately for the Wildcats, this was not a unique season. This 0-11 campaign fell in the middle of a 30-game winless streak for Kansas State that stretched into four different seasons, making Bill Snyder’s career as Kansas State’s head coach (which started in 1989) that much more impressive.

8. Nicholls State Colonels, 2006

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    On paper, Nicholls State’s 2006 team does not look that bad, having accrued a 4-7 record.  But the picture gets bleaker when one considers that two of those wins were against Southern Arkansas and Assumption, and the other two wins were single-score victories within Southland Conference play. 

    It was no surprise the Huskers cruised to a 56-7 victory and turned to other FCS opponents for future non-conference punching bags.

7. TCU Horned Frogs, 1976

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    The Horned Frogs came to Lincoln after opening the season with losses to SMU and Tennessee. But the treatment the Huskers would give them was even harsher, beating them 64-10. 

    TCU would ultimately finish the ’76 season winless, losing each of its seven road games by at least 20 points. The Horned Frogs' margins of defeat are begging for them to be higher on the list, but they played a brutal schedule in 1976 that makes their ineptitude seem a little more acceptable. And for that, seventh seems like a fair ranking.

6. Kansas State Wildcats, 1965

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    The Wildcats make their second appearance on a list that could have featured more of their abysmal teams. In 1965, the Cornhuskers traveled to Manhattan, Kansas only to give the Wildcats one of their four shutouts of the season, tallying a 41-0 victory. 

    Ultimately, Kansas State finished the season averaging just 4.3 points per game in its 0-10 campaign. It is never good when a single touchdown can raise your average offensive output.

5. Baylor Bears, 2000

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    After watching Robert Griffin III carve up defenses for a couple years, it is difficult to remember how awful this Baylor program really was a short time ago. And in November of 2000, the Bears may have hit rock-bottom. 

    The Huskers scored 38 points in the first quarter alone and handed Baylor its third consecutive shutout. Baylor ended the season with five straight games in which they conceded 47 points or more on their way to a 2-9 record. Let’s hope they don’t revert to their old ways now that RG III is playing on Sundays.

4. Idaho State Bengals, 2012

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    It took all of 12.5 minutes for the Huskers to amass a 35-0 lead this past Saturday. And having opened that margin so quickly, Bo Pelini turned to his second-string quarterback before the first quarter had even ended.  

    But the eventual 73-7 score should not have been too surprising. After all, Idaho State only managed a single win in the rugged Big Sky Conference last year. Let’s just be happy Tom Osborne did not schedule Black Hills State instead, who somehow managed to lose to the Bengals by 33 a week ago.

3. Grinnell Pioneers, 1927

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    Grinnell’s 58-0 defeat to Nebraska was its worst of the season. The Pioneers finished the year with seven losses and one tie, which came against the William Penn University Statesmen.  Yet as bad as their record was, their 2.6 points per game average was even more appalling. 

    Heck, Nebraska’s women’s soccer team is averaging almost that much. It was probably for the best that Nebraska stopped scheduling the Pioneers in the non-conference schedule. But then again, Idaho State was not a whole lot better.

2. South Dakota Coyotes, 1945

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    The Coyotes were obviously overmatched when they were pounded 53-0 by the Huskers. but that score does not adequately describe the incompetence of this team. Not only were they shut out that day, they were shut out in every other game that season. 

    Despite playing traditional powerhouses like Wayne State, Yankton College and Dakota Wesleyan, this 1945 South Dakota team was unable to record a single point. A winless season is one thing, but being shut out for an entire season? It is hard to imagine that the entire football program did not just call it quits for good after that horrific campaign.

1. Haskell Indians, 1910

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    Haskell played Nebraska in its final game of the 1910 season. The Indians came to Lincoln with a 2-6 record including victories against Fort Leavenworth and Baker, but they were quickly given a historic defeat that would define their season and establish their place in Husker football lore. 

    The Cornhuskers hung 1,150 total yards on the Indians while holding them to a mere 67 yards en route to a record 119-0 victory.  One hundred twelve years later, it does not appear that the Indians' luck has changed much as they recorded a 77-13 loss to Bacone College on Saturday. At least they held them in double digits, right?

Honorable Mention

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    While these five teams did not quite make the cut for the 10 worst Husker opponents of all time, their athletic ineptitude still deserves some mention:

    Iowa State Cyclones, 1929 (Nebraska won 31-12)

    Iowa Hawkeyes, 1937 (Nebraska won 28-0)

    Kansas State Wildcats, 1946 (Nebraska won 31-0)

    South Dakota Coyotes, 1962 (Nebraska won 53-0)

    Army, 1970 (Nebraska won 28-0)

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