Photo courtesy of Nebraska athletics
It is a do-or-die year for Nebraska’s golden boy Scott Frost.
Now in his fifth season, if Scott doesn’t make a bowl game in 2022, no one can argue that he will keep his job. The Cornhuskers help kick off the 2022 season in three weeks as they head to Dublin, Ireland to take on Northwestern.
In this piece, we’ll be looking at Nebraska’s schedule as a whole. Here’s a look at each opponent, ranked from easiest to most difficult:
1. vs. North Dakota (Sept. 3)
The Fighting Hawks of North Dakota have made the FCS Playoffs in two of the past three years, but not last year. In 2021, North Dakota went 5-6, and is looking to get back on track. This is key game for Nebraska in Week 2 to really get things rolling. FCS teams have given major FBS teams things to worry about recently, but Nebraska should be fine here. By the fourth quarter, we will see why there is a difference of 85 scholarships at the FBS level to 63 scholarships at the FCS level.
2. vs. Georgia Southern (Sept. 10)
This will be the first-ever matchup between Nebraska and Georgia Southern. This game comes in Week 3 as Nebraska gets one final tune-up before taking on rival Oklahoma. Georgia Southern is under a regime change and completely changing its offensive identity. This should be an easy win for the Cornhuskers.
3. vs. Indiana (Oct. 1)
The Hoosiers seemed to have lost their way in 2021, after being the media darlings of 2020. Indiana has traditionally been a bottom dweller in the Big Ten, and that should continue in 2022. This one comes after a bye week, and is in Lincoln.
4. at Rutgers (Oct. 7)
This is where the schedule is starting to get trickier. There is a significant jump in difficulty here compared to the three matchups above. Nebraska has to travel all the way to New Jersey in early October and on a short week as this one takes place on a Friday night. Rutgers only has 10 returning starters and is slated to give sophomore quarterback Gavin Wimsatt the starting role. He only has 21 pass attempts at Rutgers.
5. vs. Illinois (Oct. 29)
The Fighting Illini had a decent foundation laid under first-year head coach Bret Bielema in 2021. The Illini defense ranked in the top 25 nationally in keeping opponents out of the end zone. Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito looks to be their guy, but how much traction can Illinois gain with a transfer quarterback and a first-year offensive coordinator?
6. vs Northwestern (Aug. 27 in Dublin)
For many people, Northwestern would have found itself earlier on the list. Maybe it should, but there is so much pressure facing Nebraska in this Week 0 contest. If the Cornhuskers cannot beat a team they easily thrashed last season, the hot seat for Frost becomes a volcano.
7. vs. Minnesota (Nov. 5)
Having this one at home should be a big advantage for Nebraska. Although the Cornhuskers can compete with most on the schedule, this is where it starts to get very tough. Minnesota returns 13 starters from a nine-win season a year ago. Quarterback Tanner Morgan is an experienced senior looking to finally get the offense off the ground. Minnesota has a solid defense and ground game, but Nebraska’s best chance will come by forcing Morgan to win the game.
8. at Purdue (Oct. 15)
The Boilermakers were on an absolute tear last season, scoring 30-plus points in their last five games. They return seven of 11 starts for an offense that ranked in the top five nationally in passing yards per game last season. To make matters more difficult, Nebraska has to travel to West Lafayette.
9. vs. Oklahoma (Sept. 17)
Those in Norman might find Oklahoma’s spot on the list disrespectful, but this is Brent Venables’ first season as a head coach. Oklahoma should definitely be favored in this matchup, but Venables has some things to clean up from the Lincoln Riley era. It will also be the former defensive coordinator’s first road game as a head coach.
10. at Iowa (Nov. 25)
Iowa has not lost to Nebraska since 2015, and rivalry games are always among the hardest ones to win, especially at the end of the year on the road. This will mark the second time in 2022 that Nebraska has to travel to play on a short week.
11. vs. Wisconsin (Nov. 19)
Wisconsin led the nation in total defense last season, but only brings back three starters on that side of the ball. Still, there is optimism that the new guys won’t miss a beat for the Badgers. This was one of the many games Nebraska lost by one possession last year.
12. at Michigan (Nov. 12)
The reigning Big Ten champions and a College Football Playoff participant round out the list. To make a daunting task more difficult, Nebraska will have to play in front of more than 100,000 fans in maze and blue at “The Big House.”
Will Nebraska make a bowl game in 2022? Let us know in the comments section.