Nebraska Football: 10 Most Intriguing Potential Non-Conference Matchups
The Nebraska Cornhuskers' schedule should be getting a bit more interesting in the upcoming years. The athletic directors of the 12 Big Ten Conference schools (just writing that contradiction sounds stupid) came to an agreement that they would stop scheduling games against FCS opponents.
While the Big Red does not play as many of these weaker teams as other FBS schools (see Bill Snyder's entire tenure at Kansas State), this change will certainly open a few extra Saturdays that new athletic director Shawn Eichorst will have to fill with someone besides Idaho State.
The odds of Eichorst filling these vacancies with anybody more interesting than Wyoming is probably slim, but let's look at the 10 matchups whose history and current status make them the most intriguing alternatives.
Thumbing through Nebraska's recent history of non-conference matchups, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Husker Nation is looking for vacation spots.
Nebraska is certainly a wonderful place. But let's just say that southern California and the Atlantic coast can offer a bit more.
So it is no secret why the Huskers' recent scheduling has included USC, UCLA and the upcoming series with Miami. After hitting both coasts to soak up the sun, Big Red fans could use an even bigger vacation.
So let's head to Hawaii and enjoy the land of waves, luaus and imaginary girlfriends.
9. Boise State
There may not be a lot of history between Boise State and Nebraska or really any connection between the two at all.
But after suffering through the better part of a decade of arguments about the Broncos' place in the national title discussion, every team would not mind taking a shot at Boise State.
Of course, working out a deal here would be difficult given Boise State's history of ridiculous demands for non-conference opponents.
However, the entertainment value may just be worth it, as long as Nebraska unveils the scarlet-colored turf for the Broncos' visit to Lincoln.
For years, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were defined in the Big Eight by their rivalry with the Oklahoma Sooners. With the transition to the Big XII came the rise of the Colorado rivalry.
Yet as time wore on and Dan Hawkins began the dismantling of the Colorado football program, that matchup lost its intrigue as the division became a two-horse race between Nebraska and Missouri.
And right as that rivalry began to take shape, the two schools departed the Big XII for their respective new conferences.
A rematch of these two former North Division heavyweights would not dip too far back into the history books, but it sure would reignite some not-so-old wounds of the early 2000s.
7. Florida State
A matchup with Florida State would largely be a battle with the man in the mirror for Nebraska.
A couple decades ago, this would have been a likely National Championship Game pairing. While Florida State was relishing the success it enjoyed under Bobby Bowden, the Huskers were in their golden age under legendary coach Tom Osborne.
Since then, however, thanks in part to the departure of these two coaches, both programs have fallen into mediocrity and uncertainty.
Years of struggle and embarrassment have given way to disappointingly close-but-not-quite-there seasons.
An early season date pitting these two traditional heavyweights against one another would be enthralling as each team faces its doppelganger.
The Cornhuskers have never played Navy. And the last time Nebraska took the field against a service academy was more than 40 years ago.
Although no longer the national powers they once were, there is a certain mystique to playing Army, Air Force or Navy. Aside from the respect every spectator holds for the young men representing the academies, the mere style of play they offer is worthy of every fan's interest.
And Nebraska fans think their school has tradition? Try Navy. The pageantry and history involved in Navy or Army football is unsurpassed on the college football landscape, and allowing Nebraska to enter into that history would be wonderful.
5. Louisiana State University
An early season matchup with the LSU Tigers would be intriguing on a number of levels.
For one, a return to Baton Rouge for coach Bo Pelini would be very compelling to watch. Under Pelini's guidance, the LSU defense was as stingy as any in the nation en route to a national championship.
But now, Pelini has his own team, which he has built from the ground up. Watching his boys square off against his former employers would be fun to see.
And beyond that, it has been a long time since Nebraska has travelled to the heart of SEC country for a game. To be the best, one must beat the best. Trying their hand in the menacing Tiger Stadium would be a good place to start for the Huskers.
4. Notre Dame
A call for non-conference dates with the University of Notre Dame needs no explanation. After all, it is Notre Dame.
But the unique and strange bond shared by the two schools is enough to put this matchup on any Husker fan's wish list.
Between the schools' constant battles for the same high-caliber recruits and Husker fans' desire to recreate this memorable scene in South Bend from 2000, this game should be near the top of Eichorst's list.
Add in Notre Dame's seeming resurgence to national relevance and this becomes not just an intriguing game for both schools but a matchup with competitive implications.
How this one has yet to make it on the schedule is beyond me.
Or maybe it is because the people in charge are the same ones who would have to endure the awkwardness in this matchup.
But who would not like a little 10-year reunion with Frank Solich?
It would be a media frenzy and of huge entertainment to the fans. With the recent progress of his Bobcats, Solich would likely put up a good fight against his former school.
Nebraska already got to play Turner Gill's Jayhawks a few years back. Why not welcome Coach Solich to Lincoln one more time?
This matchup may look more attractive to Husker fans than Gators. After all, the last time these two sides met up, each member of the Florida defense left with Tommie Frazier's cleat marks on his chest.
But regardless of that beatdown in Tempe, a matchup between these two Goliaths of the 90s, who are both struggling to get over the hump back to national title contention, would be great to watch.
Of course, a win over Florida would not quite be the same without Steve Spurrier on the other side. But watching gator-chomping nation fall silent again would certainly be a trip down memory lane any Husker fan would enjoy.
Fortunately for Nebraska, Oklahoma and college football fans everywhere, these two traditional powers have agreed to a two-year series beginning in 2021.
But this matchup still tops the list of "potential" non-conference games because a two-game series is simply not enough.
The history in this rivalry is rarely matched in all of college sports and is of a quality deserving an annual meeting.
If Michigan can make room in the schedule for Notre Dame and Florida can clear out its final week every year for Florida State, then Oklahoma and Nebraska should be able to iron out a deal to restore this hallowed rivalry on a yearly basis.
Conference realignment will clearly change the basic structure of college football, but that does not mean it has to restrict traditional rivalries from being played.