Five takeaways on Nebraska 2020 football schedule
Here are five quick takeaways on Nebraska's 2020 football schedule released on Saturday morning.
1 - Nobody got a tougher draw in the West than Nebraska
There's no sugarcoating it. Nebraska got by far the most difficult draw of any team in the Big Ten West.
NU is the only West school that will play its two East crossover games against cross-divisional powers. No other Big Ten West team has two crossover games against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. NU drew OSU and PSU. Nobody else drew more than one game from that pool of three teams.
To make matters worse, the Huskers play Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State three out of the first four weeks. That stretch as a chance to really take a physical and mental beating on your football team.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos also sits on the scheduling committee that's chaired by Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez. I would've loved to have been a fly on the wall in those meetings when Alvarez told Moos the Huskers are the only team in the West that drew two East powers for their crossover games.
I also expect the Ohio State game to be an 11 am kickoff on FOX in Columbus. They clearly want to come out strong on Week 1 with a match-up that will pull a strong ratings number.
When NU played at OSU in 2018 at 11 am on FOX, the game pulled down over 5 million viewers, second to only CBS's primetime broadcast of Alabama-LSU that weekend. With no fans in the stands, that number will be even bigger on Oct. 24.
2 - Getting Wisconsin early is better than late
There's no good time to get Wisconsin. We are well aware of the history against the Badgers for Nebraska since joining the Big Ten.
NU is 1-8 vs. Wisconsin since 2011, with the Badgers winning the last seven in a row. The average score over the series has been 41-22 over nine meetings in favor of Wisconsin.
With that said, getting them Week 2 is probably about the best time for the Huskers.
My fear was seeing Wisconsin on Dec. 12 or Dec. 19 where it could be very difficult to operate Scott Frost's offense and the Badgers would just lean on NU with their big offensive line.
Getting them on Oct. 31 at least gives you potentially better weather conditions, and the Badgers haven't been able to do as much as NU since the pandemic. They have had to shut down and pause workouts at times. Nebraska has not. Will any of that matter? It's hard saying, but I think the Huskers will be ready for this game on Oct. 31 in Lincoln. They definitely will be battle-tested after seeing Ohio State Week 1.
3 - Look for Iowa and Nebraska to be moved to Black Friday
Bank on it. Nebraska at Iowa will be moved to Black Friday.
Moos has already said that is his wish, and I'm fairly certain Iowa AD Gary Barta will have similar wishes.
We also know the Big Ten will play Friday games this year to make their television partners whole.
If this happens, that means the "Shawn Eichorst Minnesota Black Friday series" will be shaved down to just one game in 2021, when the Huskers travel to Minneapolis on Thanksgiving weekend. After that, the Huskers and Hawkeyes should continue to play on Black Friday every year.
4 - At Purdue two years in a row and Wisconsin in Lincoln again
The one divisional wrinkle thrown at Nebraska is Wisconsin travels to Lincoln for the second year in a row and the Huskers play at Purdue a second year in a row.
This will be altered on the 2021 schedule, so expect NU to play at Wisconsin and Purdue to come to Lincoln to make up for this change.
When you are putting together a new schedule, things like this have to be done in order to balance things out.
The one positive is in future years Nebraska may not have to travel to both Iowa and Wisconsin the same season. This should break that up where one is at home and one is on the road. I always thought that put the Huskers in a tough spot to make a run at a divisional title when both those games were on the road every other year.
5 - Penn State's first trip to Lincoln since 2012
Since joining the Big Ten in 2011, teams like Michigan, Penn State and Indiana have only made one trip to Memorial Stadium.
It's an odd thing to say, as NU has played at both Penn State and Michigan three times, while those teams have only come to Memorial Stadium once.
We will finally see PSU come to Lincoln, but unfortunately, there won't be any fans to see it. Their last trips here were 2012 and then before that 2003.
I know this has been a frustration point for NU since joining the league, as there has been no rhyme or reason on how the league picks the crossovers.
In comparison, Nebraska has played Ohio State six times in nine years with three games in Lincoln and three in Columbus. Overall they will play eight times over 11 years with four games in Lincoln and four at OSU.