Hot Reads: The Road Less Traveled
Photo Credit: Paul Bellinger

Hot Reads: The Road Less Traveled

February 14, 2019

They've said it before and they said it again in an interview with the Denver Post, but Scott Frost and Bill Moos appear to be pretty serious about this old-Big-Eight rivals idea. 

“I’d love to see us, if we’re going to play one Power 5 non-conference (game), to have it be one of the old Big Eight rivals,” the Huskers football coach told The Denver Post. “It’s great playing teams like Colorado.”
. . .
“What Scott and I would really like to do, for our home-and-home series — we’d have to go out a ways or drop some games — is play our rivals from the Big Eight days,” Moos explained. “Then we’ve got a presence in three conferences: the SEC (Missouri), the Pac-12 (Colorado), and the Big 12. So that’s all good, and those rivalries are strong with us.

The Huskers will play at Colorado this year on Sept. 7. In 2021 and 2022, Oklahoma is on the schedule and Colorado is back for 2023 and 2024. Nebraska's first opening for to add a nonconference opponent––though probably not a “power” opponent––is in 2023. Oklahoma is back on the schedule in 2029.

If there's a stay-local scheduling initiative coming, it will be a while before fans actually get to enjoy it.

Would the fans enjoy it? That's an interesting question. (If you have thoughts, share them below.)

I guess there are two potential paths here.

Path 1: There's no real change. Nebraska, like most schools, will schedule one "marquee" nonconference opponent a year and any Power 5 team is theoretically available. For fans that like to follow Nebraska on the road––particularly those who like the one-big-trip package–you get the chance to catch a game at places like Oregon, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Big alumni groups in those areas also get a signature event around which to rally and they look forward to it for years.

Path 2: Nebraska stops looking for opponents throughout the country and starts working on Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Oklahoma State in addition to those games already scheduled against Oklahoma and Colorado. (Note: Moos told the Denver Post that he hasn't really had many of those conversations yet.) If the Huskers got a home-and-home with the first five on that list that's a decade of games right there, and they can't really start until the 2030s based on the games already scheduled. If Nebraska plays Iowa State in 2040, it's possible that it will have been 30 years since their last meeting. The pool of people who have a fondness for Husker-Cyclone matches of yore has shrunk, perhaps significantly, but it remains an easy drive for those future Nebraska fans if teleportation is still not a reality.

As someone who will always be in the "remembers the Big 8" pool and prefers college football be as local as possible––a notion largely stripped to the foundation by conference expansion––I'm probably the core constituency for Path 2.

But if forced to choose, I think I'd still take Path 1. I like the out-of-nowhere matchup. There are five current Power 5 teams that Nebraska has never played: Boston College, Louisville, Virginia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. I'd happily go to any of those places. (In descending order for me: Charlottesville, Boston, Lexington, Nashville, Louisville.) There are many more Power 5 teams the Huskers have never faced on the road. I'd sign up right now for a decade-long Southern swing that took Nebraska to some classic stadiums in the SEC and ACC. It's not a Power 5, at least not yet, but I'm very interested in the Huskers' upcoming trip to Cincinnati. That's a great stadium.

I came into this expecting to be a Path 2 guy. There's something intensely nostalgic about getting in the car the morning of the game and setting out for Ames or Manhattan. It's almost like high school sports in all the best ways.

But I guess what I'm finding is that I actually prefer the road less traveled. See you in Charlottesville in 2035 or so.

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