When The Big Ten released the 2016 and 2017 Conference Schedules yesterday, many fans and pundits were shocked that The Michigan Wolverines did not appear on Nebraska’s slate. They also do not play Michigan in 2014 or 2015 as we have learned in the past few months. Four years without The Wolverines is a bit surprising, but could also be a blessing for The Big Red.
Next season Nebraska will be without quarterback Taylor Martinez when 2014 rolls around, and presumably Tommy Armstrong Jr.or Johnny Stanton will be behind center as a first year starter. The Huskers home schedule consists of Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, and Minnesota. Their four away games are against Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Not having Michigan on the docket favors Nebraska tremendously. While we don’t know what the future holds, right now this schedule looks very manageable for a young quarterback to navigate.
In 2015 Nebraska has conference home games against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State, and Iowa. The teams away games include Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, and Rutgers. With either Stanton or Armstrong in their second full season as the starter, an increased level of play is likely going to accompany the added year of experience. The toughest conference games will all be played in front of the home crowd at Memorial Stadium, and the chance for Nebraska to reach the Big Ten Championship game are good.
Fast forward to the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The schedules gets tougher, but again, you would think that Nebraska will still be improving. A home and home series with Ohio State will headline both seasons, but things might be different with The Buckeyes by then. With Ohio State being a legitimate BCS Championship contender this year, Urban Meyer will probably have already moved on from Columbus by 2016 with a championship ring and another life crisis that will have taken him to another school as a mercenary. Both the 2016 and 2017 seasons are a bit too far away to really be able to accurately forecast.
Not having Michigan on the schedule for four seasons might be the best thing that could happen for The Nebraska Cornhuskers. Unlike Urban Meyer at Ohio State, Brady Hoke seems like he is setting up shop for the long haul in Ann Arbor. They will compete for The Big Ten East title on an annual basis. Their absence from The Huskers schedule means one less obstacle in making the trip to Indy in December.
To be honest, if Nebraska takes care of business, they could be playing The Wolverines once a year from 2014-2017 with a chance to make The College Football Playoff or The Rose Bowl.