LINCOLN, Neb. — Say goodbye to the annual Nebraska-Iowa matchup on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The Big Ten announced its 2020 and 2021 football schedules on Tuesday, sharing all of its matchups across the conference. A quick glance at the schedule shows that not only does Nebraska not play Iowa to finish the season in 2020 and 2021, but the Huskers also do not play on Friday.
So, what does it mean?
First and foremost, it means Nebraska will not play on a Friday to end the regular season for the first time since 1990. The last time the Huskers played on Saturday to end the season was Nov. 18, 1989. It was common prior to 1990 for Nebraska to play on Saturday, or even Thursday.
In fact, the Huskers have played on Thanksgiving day five times since 1962. The first Friday matchup since 1962 came on Nov. 23, 1973. The games were mostly played against Oklahoma, with a rogue Missouri matchup in 1978. Colorado made an appearance or two before taking Oklahoma’s place against Nebraska as the final conference game of the season in 1996.
When Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, the Huskers made it clear they wanted to keep their final conference matchup on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Iowa complied after some convincing. Nebraska could still try to have the game moved from Saturday to Friday, similar to what it did with the Hawkeyes, so that isn’t necessarily set in stone.
Although it sounds like Nebraska may be OK with the Saturday slot.
“Since moving to a nine-game conference schedule, it makes sense from a student-athlete health, safety and welfare perspective to play on Saturday at the end of the regular season,” athletic director Shawn Eichorst said after the announcement.
However, with Iowa in that final game slot, many assumed a rivalry would start to build. Nine years later, that will be disrupted.
With that in mind, the scheduling update makes Nebraska’s rivalry circus in the Big Ten even more chaotic. The Huskers will now face Minnesota in the typical “rivalry” slot, which will likely create some concern for fans. As Nebraska looks to identify its place in the Big Ten, this simply throws a wrench into the plans.
There’s nothing that can be done now, but Nebraska fans have every right to be disappointed. Whether Nebraska and Iowa were on the way to becoming rivals or not, it was the start of an annual tradition.
In 2020 and 2021, that will instead be put on hold.
The #B1G Schedule for 2020 and 2021 has been set.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) September 12, 2017