LINCOLN — For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Nebraska football team will play a game outside the United States.
The Huskers will play Illinois in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 28, 2021, as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic series, an annual event that starts Aug. 29, 2020, when Notre Dame plays Navy at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. That date is effectively a “week zero” contest.
Aviva Stadium — which holds roughly 50,000 for American football — is the regular home to rugby matches but hosted a Notre Dame-Navy game in 2012 and a Boston College-Georgia Tech game in 2016. Current Husker running back Dedrick Mills scored a touchdown in the 2016 contest for Georgia Tech.
The participants for the 2021 game were announced Monday. Nebraska recently announced it was moving a 2021 game with Northern Illinois to 2027, creating a vacancy for its Sept. 4, 2021, season opener.
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Week 1 now serves as a bye week before what could be the hardest schedule in recent Husker history, featuring road games at Oklahoma and Michigan State and home games against Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin, among others. Nebraska could schedule a new opponent or move one its current games, even a Big Ten game, to that slot. A game in Ireland could serve as both an opportunity for Husker fans to have a different experience and a chance for the university to get exposure in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Marketing discussions were ongoing last week.
Nebraska last played overseas in 1992 when the Huskers headed to the Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo to clinch a Big Eight title with a 38-24 win over Kansas State.