Fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers are once again approaching the upcoming college football season with a mix of optimism and dread. The program is coming off another bowl-less season, the fifth straight campaign without such a trip for the storied program. But with a batch of new faces in key positions, could the 2022 season be the much-needed breath of fresh air Nebraska has been searching for under head coach Scott Frost?
Nebraska will face what should be a manageable first half of the football schedule, and the Cornhuskers get the luxury of two bye weeks during the season. But the season opens in Ireland with a conference tilt against a Northwestern program that has at times been a thorn in Nebraska's paw. The Huskers also host Oklahoma in a long-awaited return of the Sooners to Lincoln. But Nebraska's three toughest games in conference play may be stacked back-to-back-to-back at the end of the regular season, which suggests Nebraska may be in a position where they need to have bowl eligibility wrapped up before the final leg of the season.
Here is a run through Nebraska's 2022 schedule, which begins in late August with a really long road trip.
Byes: Week 4, 8
Week 0 - Aug. 27 vs Northwestern (Dublin, Ireland)
Northwestern vs. Nebraska feels like a bit of an odd pairing to export to Ireland to start off the season, but this should be more than a sight-seeing opportunity for the Cornhuskers. Northwestern had a rough 2021 season, which included Nebraska blowing out the Wildcats, 56-7, the most lopsided result between the two schools since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011. We may not see another lopsided result like that across the pond, but Nebraska will hope to make the long flight home more enjoyable with a win in their pocket.
Week 1 - Sept. 3 vs. North Dakota (Lincoln, Neb.)
After the long trip to Ireland, Nebraska will get a chance to open its home schedule with a game against an FCS opponent that should be an easy matchup. This isn't North Dakota State, after all, but Nebraska could use this game to fine-tune a few things after the jet lag from the previous week.
Week 2 - Sept. 10 vs. Georgia Southern (Lincoln, Neb.)
Nebraska starting the season with a 3-0 record before taking on its marquee non-conference challenge is entirely in play. But Scott Frost will need to make sure his program isn't looking past Georgia Southern in Week 2. The Eagles had a down 2021 campaign but had winning seasons the three previous years.
Week 3 - Sept. 17 vs. Oklahoma (Lincoln, Neb.)
Nebraska gave Oklahoma everything it had in the anticipated revival of this storied rivalry last season in Norman. The Huskers made some key mistakes in key moments that helped the Sooners secure the hard-fought victory. We'll have to see just what Oklahoma looks like after their offseason changes, highlighted by a new head coach and new starting quarterback. The Sooners still figure to be the favorite in this year's matchup, but if Nebraska can get the season started with some good momentum, the Huskers could come up with a big win against a perennial Big 12 contender.
Week 5 - Oct. 1 vs. Indiana (Lincoln, Neb.)
After a bye week following its showdown with the Sooners, Nebraska jumps back into Big Ten play. And the Huskers will do so at home against an Indiana program that took a few stumbles in 2021 after a successful and surprising 2020 season. The Hoosiers are a threat against almost any team they play and could leave Lincoln with a win if Nebraska isn't careful.
Week 6 - Oct. 7 at Rutgers (Piscataway, N.J.)
Nebraska is on the road for its first true Big Ten road game in Week 6. The Huskers make the longest trip possible within the Big Ten footprint by heading all the way to New Jersey to face the Scarlet Knights. Making things more complicated for the Huskers, they will do so on a short week with the game set to kick off on Friday night.
Week 7 - Oct. 15 at Purdue (West Lafayette, Ind.)
Nebraska is back on the road the following week with a trip to West Lafayette. Purdue is a bit of a wild card after winning nine games in 2021. The Boilermakers have won three of the last four meetings with Nebraska, including last season's 28-23 victory in Lincoln. The Huskers are 3-3 in Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium.
Week 9 - Oct. 29 vs. Illinois (Lincoln, Neb.)
How bad have things been for Nebraska? Illinois has generally been perceived as one of the worst programs in the Big Ten in recent years, and the Fighting Illini have a two-game winning streak going against the Huskers. Illinois took last year's meeting, 30-22, and also burned Nebraska in 2020 with a 41-23 victory. The Illini could take another step forward this season, and another win over the Huskers would certainly be a step in the right direction in head coach Bret Bielema's second season. Nebraska will have a bye week to prepare for this game at home, which will lead to a challenging November. If things work out, the Huskers could secure bowl eligibility with a win in this one, if they haven't already.
Week 10 - Nov. 5 vs. Minnesota (Lincoln, Neb.)
Minnesota has proven to be a more reliable Big Ten West program in recent years while Nebraska has been scuffling. The Golden Gophers picked up a 30-23 win over Nebraska last season, and have held the advantage in the series in recent years. Nebraska has dropped four of the last five meetings against P.J. Fleck's program.
Week 11 - Nov. 12 at Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Nebraska's final three games are a bit of a gauntlet against teams that could be playing for division championships. The first comes on the road against Michigan, the defending Big Ten champions, and a participant in the College Football Playoff last season. The Wolverines may not be quite the same caliber of a team in 2022, but a road trip to Ann Arbor can be a bad situation for a team like Nebraska if things aren't going smoothly. The Huskers were blown out, 56-10, in their last visit to Michigan Stadium in 2018, and Michigan took last season's meeting in Lincoln, 32-29 after Nebraska imploded in the final moments.
Week 12 - Nov. 19 vs. Wisconsin (Lincoln, Neb.)
The fate of the Big Ten West could be going down to the wire, and Nebraska will be playing a likely role in how the division plays out whether the Huskers are in the running or not. Nebraska's final home game of the season is against Wisconsin, the most consistent program in the Big Ten West since the conference split to an East-West format. The Badgers have won eight consecutive meetings in the series, including three victories in Lincoln and one blowout in the Big Ten Championship Game (back in 2012 under the Leaders-Legends divisional format). Nebraska has just one win against Wisconsin since joining the Big Ten in 2011, a 30-27 victory in '12.
Week 13 - Nov. 25 at Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa)
Another program that Nebraska has struggled mightily against since joining the Big Ten is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are riding a seven-game winning streak against the Huskers in what has become a post-Thanksgiving rivalry that feels perfect for these two programs. Nebraska has kept things close with Iowa with a couple of exceptions along the way, but the Hawkeyes always seem to make the most important plays in the clutch. The result of this game could play into how the Big Ten West will ultimately be won. The Huskers can come out of nowhere if they manage to score victories against Wisconsin and Iowa, but it could also be an uphill battle going into November for Frost and company.
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