That "TBA" in the Huskers schedule for September 22nd has finally been filled with (sit down) Idaho State. Not Boise State. Not even Idaho. Idaho State. The Bengals, a division 1-AA school, went 2-9 last season and lost 56-3 to BYU and 64-21 to Washington State. Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings rated Idaho State #205 last season. If you were ever looking a definition of a "bodybag" game, this would be it. In 2009, Oklahoma defeated Idaho State 64-0 in a rainstorm, outgaining the Bengals 564-44.
But considering the rest of Nebraska's non-conference schedule, a patsy 1-AA opponent makes sense. Nebraska opens the season with Southern Miss (12-2 last season, ranked #24 by Sagarin) on September 1st. Then the Huskers travel to UCLA (6-8, ranked #66 by Sagarin) to play at the Rose Bowl on September 8th. Arkansas State (10-3, ranked #67 by Sagarin) returns to Lincoln on September 15th. All three played in bowl games last season, and while none are "top tier" programs, Nebraska's played worse foes. Heck, if UCLA would have had a winning record last season, people would likely be talking about how tough this schedule would be.But Nebraska needed to find an opponent for 2012, and they found one at this somewhat late date. Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald noted that defending 1-AA national champion North Dakota State (14-1, ranked #37 by Sagarin) has an open date that week, but I'd argue that the risk of playing a really good and motivated 1-AA opponent isn't worth the reward. (Still 1-AA.)
It is what it is. Hopefully it's a chance to clear the bench and give everybody who's not redshirting or injured a lot of quality playing time. And let's be honest, with Wisconsin and Ohio State coming up the next two weeks on the schedule, it's probably a really bad week to play a team like the Bison.
Several other games were announced today as well. Carl Pelini's Florida Atlantic team comes to Lincoln to open the 2014 schedule. That season still has an open date on September 6th before the Huskers visit Fresno State on September 13th and play Miami in Lincoln (FINALLY) on September 20th. BYU will come to Lincoln to open the 2015 season on September 5th. That's a great pickup, and apparently comes without a return trip to Provo. I'm sure Nebraska is going to have to pay the Cougars some serious money for this, but it's a welcome matchup for both fans and television. (Prime time on ABC or ESPN, in all likelihood!) South Alabama was announced today as well; they'll come to Lincoln on September 12th. South Alabama went 6-4 in 1-AA last season, but is moving up to 1-A and will play in the Sun Belt Conference. On September 19th, the Huskers travel to Miami then on September 26th, Southern Miss comes to Lincoln.
BYU, Southern Miss, and Miami in the non-conference schedule in 2015? That's a great schedule!
South Alabama will also play in Lincoln to open the 2019 season on August 31st. That's a long way out.
All told, some solid pickups on the schedule. I'll forgive the Idaho State game, all things considered, for this season...but I'll probably still grumble on game week about it, just the same.