Get excited, y’all. Big Ten football is coming to Ireland.
As part of the “Aer Lingus College Football Series,” Nebraska and Illinois will square off at Aviva Stadium in Dublin to open the 2021 season. The game, the third in the series, will be played on Aug. 28.
“Playing a game in Ireland provides another way to spread the Nebraska brand, and in this case on an international stage,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said. “We are always looking for new scheduling opportunities and when this was presented, Coach Scott Frost and I decided this would be an experience of a lifetime for the student-athletes in our program.”
Added Illinois AD Josh Whitman: “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes.”
The Huskers and Illini were originally slated to play on Nov. 13 in Champaign in 2021. With the date change, Illinois will have two bye weeks that season while Nebraska has added a home game against Southeastern Louisiana, an FCS program.
For Illinois, the game will be the first in program history played outside the United States. Nebraska’s most recent international game was the 1992 Coca-Cola Bowl against Kansas State in Tokyo, Japan.
Second game in a 5-part Ireland series
The first edition of the Aer Lingus series took place back in 2016 when Georgia Tech knocked off Boston College, 17-14. It will resume next year with Navy and Notre Dame on Aug. 29, 2020 — a game that includes a visit from ESPN’s College GameDay. The Illinois-Nebraska game will be the second of five games played in Dublin over the next five years.
“It's great to see new teams getting involved in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a press release. “Tens of thousands of fans are expected to make the journey for each game in the series over the next five years, bringing with them a huge boost for the economy. Illinois and Nebraska players and fans can look forward to the best of Irish hospitality.”
Before the Aer Lingus College Football Classic began in 2016, there were five college football games played in Ireland. Two of them, in 1996 and 2012, were Notre Dame wins over Navy. The other three games were Boston College’s 38-24 win over Army in 1998, Pittsburgh’s 46-29 win over Rutgers in 1989 and Penn State’s 26-24 win over UCF in 2014.
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