Preview: Big Ten Foes Battle in Ireland

Major college football returns on Saturday for what we call Week 0.

Fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief; the offseason is over.

Saturday’s limited slate begins with Austin Peay and Western Kentucky for the official first game of the season. While all football is good football, the most anticipated contest has to be the lone conference matchup.

The Big Ten has Northwestern battling Nebraska. Neither Lincoln nor Evanston, however, will be the host. Instead, the schools will be traveling to Dublin, Ireland.

The contest begins at 12:30 p.m. ET. It airs nationally on FOX.

Nebraska

2021 was miserable for the Cornhuskers. They went 3-9 and 0-7 in games decided by seven points or less. Their three wins came against Fordham, Buffalo, and Northwestern.

The maligned Adrian Martinez is now the starting quarterback for Kansas State. Nebraska now look towards Texas transfer Casey Thompson to lead the offense.

As far as luck goes, it would be hard to find worse luck than the Cornhuskers had last season. Perhaps a trip to Ireland will be just what they need to find it.

They do return a lot of production on both sides. While Nebraska regularly dropped heartbreakers last season, it throttled Northwestern by a 56-7 score.

Both teams will be looking for a bounce-back season in 2022. For Nebraska, Scott Frost will be coaching for his job. If all goes well, he will be back in Nebraska.

Northwestern

Northwestern also finished 3-9 last season. It was, for the most part, an outlier as head coach Pat Fitzgerald has built a strong program at one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the Power 5. Last season, the Wildcats got their lone Big Ten win over Rutgers, 21-7.

In addition to Rutgers, Northwestern also topped Indiana State and Ohio in 2021. It played musical quarterbacks at times last season. For Fitzgerald’s bunch, expect a much better season.

Usually one of the nation’s most underrated programs, Northwestern has played in two of the last four Big Ten Championships. Known for its toughness and defense under Fitzgerald, Northwestern will try to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2013 and 2014.

Prediction

This one is on a truly neutral field, but the talent gap favors Nebraska. Nebraska hasn’t won a season opener or Big Ten opener since 2019.

Expect both teams to be much better than a season ago. The Week 0 matchup, however, will go the way of the Cornhuskers.

Final Score: Nebraska 28, Northwestern 10

Featured image courtesy of Nebraska Communications