Huskers and Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Nebraska Athletics announced Monday that the Nebraska football team will open their 2021 season abroad, taking on Illinois in Ireland.

The five-game Aer Lingus College Football Classic begins with the Navy and Notre Dame season-opener in 2020. The following year, on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, the Huskers will take the field against the Illini at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, for the second game in the college series.

The Nebraska-Illinois game that year had been previously scheduled for Nov. 13, 2021; the Huskers will now play Southeastern Louisiana in Lincoln on that date.

The matchup in Dublin will be Nebraska’s first game outside of the United States since the Huskers took on Kansas State in the 1992 Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo, Japan, according to a Nebraska Athletics department release.

“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 in the release. “We are always looking for new scheduling opportunities and when this was presented, Coach Frost and I decided this would be an experience of a lifetime for the student-athletes in our program. This will also be a great trip for our fans, and knowing how Husker fans travel it will be great to see Dublin, Ireland turned Red.”

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Moos and Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman made the announcement Monday in partnership with Irish American Events Limited.

“It’s great to see new teams getting involved in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in the 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.”

Nebraska Football Coach Scott Frost said the team is excited about the game abroad.

“We look forward to taking our team to Ireland to kick off the 2021 season against Illinois,” Frost said. “This will provide great exposure for the Nebraska football program and the Big Ten Conference. Our first priority for the trip will be to play a football game, but it is also going to give our players a chance to visit a part of the world most of them will not have seen.”