Given the realignment that college football has gone through and the rivalries that have gotten left behind by it, I began to think to myself, what is it college football should look like in an ideal universe? I thought that, in an ideal universe, every school would have a set of about six or seven teams that they played every year, the situation in most major conferences, as well as with Notre Dame. Then there would be about another three or four teams that you would play two out of every four to six years. And you should have at least a couple of once-in-twenty years, or lifetime opponents.
To experiment with this, I took the team of my heart, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and devised a such a schedule for them. Here are the six teams I think Nebraska should play every year.
Oklahoma-the classic game-yes, it has lost its luster from 1960-1980’s, but this was one of the most influential games of a generation. Let’s get this every year.
Colorado-Over my life and memory, Colorado was the opponent, other than Texas, that generated the most passion on the Nebraska side. While Colorado doesn’t have the passion for football that Nebraska does, when both schools are good, it’s a culture clash between the hippie Buffs and the conservative Cornhuskers.
Iowa-It is debatable how Iowa should be on this list, given that they haven’t met regularly since the 1940’s. But Iowa is only school that really has a strong following in Nebraska (almost a cult following in Omaha); Colorado is the only other fanbase who Nebraska fans intermingle with regularly.
Kansas-Notre Dame plays Purdue every year. Up until Nebraska joined the Big 10, Nebraska-Kansas was one of the longest rivalries in college football. It should go on.
UCLA-if Nebraska is going to be a national university, it needs to play a west coast opponent every year for its substantial California-Arizona fan base. Arizona State would also be a great fit in this spot, but nothing would match a bi-yearly date in the Rose Bowl.
Penn State-this rivalry, while not in plum recruiting territory, is more about the shared rural, family-first culture of both Penn State and Nebraska. They’re also the two teams who’ve kept virtually the same uniforms the past fifty years.
So there’s your six yearly opponents. Later, I’ll introduce some of the regular rotating rivals that I’d love to see Nebraska play