Nebraska has announced a home and home football series with Cincinnati, with the Bearcats visiting Lincoln on September 12, 2020 and Nebraska returning the game on September 13, 2025. Yep, 2025. The freshmen on that 2025 squad just finished kindergarten, just to let you know just how far out this game is on the schedule.
My first reaction to this news was to wonder why Nebraska scheduled these games. With the new Big Ten nine-game conference schedule, the Huskers can only afford to have one home-and-home non-conference arrangement each season. These home-and-home arrangements have given Husker fans games with Notre Dame, UCLA, Southern Cal, and Washington, and future matchups with teams like Miami, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
Cincinnati? Really? The Huskers are going to play a game at soon-to-be-expanded-to 40,000 seat Nippert Stadium? Really? For a home and home? The Bearcats have won or shared four of the final five Big East conference championships, but frankly, the Big East was a sinking ship in football. (Starting this fall, the Bearcats will play in the American Athletic Conference...named in the hopes that people will confuse the AAC with the ACC, I assume.)
But the official announcement provided a little more technicolor that most news reports missed: this arrangement also matches up the Cincinnati basketball team with Nebrasketball. In 2013-14, Nebraska will travel to Cincinnati while in 2014-15, the Bearcats will play the Huskers at the new Pinnacle Bank Arena. Cincinnati has gone 74-31 the previous three seasons with three NCAA tournament appearances. Those are pretty good non-conference games for Tim Miles' squad. That mitigates some of my concerns, but I still think it's a bad arrangement for Husker football. Nebraska already has football games scheduled in Ohio and Indiana, and these games wouldn't be compelling for television based on the current perceptions of each program.
In the same announcement, Nebraska announced that the 2016 game against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field has been cancelled. Instead, Northern Illinois will play two more games in Lincoln during the 2021 and 2023 seasons. That seems weird...this series went from being a 2-for-1 arrangement to a 4-for-nothing deal. That's a good deal for Nebraska.
For those who track Nebraska's non-conference matchups, here how they set for future years:
2014: Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, @ Fresno State, Miami
2015: BYU, South Alabama, @ Miami, Southern Miss
2016: Fresno State, Tennessee, Wyoming
2017: TBA, @ Tennessee, Northern Illinois
2018: TBA, TBA, Colorado
2019: South Alabama, @ Colorado, Northern Illinois
2020: TBA, Cincinnati, TBA
2021: Northern Illinois, TBA, @ Oklahoma
2022: TBA, TBA, Oklahoma
2023: TBA, @ Colorado, Northern Illinois
2024: TBA, Colorado, TBA
2025: TBA, @ Cincinnati, TBA
Thank goodness for that Oklahoma series.