LINCOLN — Cancel the travel plans. Nebraska's football team will no longer be leaving Lincoln for next season's game against Southern Mississippi.
The schools have agreed to play the Sept. 7 contest at Memorial Stadium — instead of in Hattiesburg, Miss., or at a neutral site.
It's the second meeting within a three-game series between NU and USM, which began in September and concludes in 2015.
Southern Miss was originally set to hold next season's game at its home stadium, but its athletic department began exploring options to balance its budget six months ago. New Orleans' Superdome and Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium were considered before NU officials proposed Memorial Stadium as an alternative earlier this month.
“There were discussions about moving this game to a neutral site, but as we continued to talk with Southern Miss, moving the game to Lincoln became an option,” NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne said in a statement. “That opportunity appeared to be the most beneficial for both schools at this time.”
For Nebraska, the matchup will be the team's eighth home game in 2013. The Huskers, whose first five contests next year will be held at Memorial Stadium, won't play a road game until Oct. 12 at Purdue.
The last time NU hosted eight home games was in 2008.
Nebraska has agreed to pay USM a reported $2.125 million guarantee to make the trip in 2013, a high-dollar figure that compensates the Golden Eagles for forfeiting their home-field advantage.
Southern Miss needed an opportunity to generate additional revenue. USM Athletic Director Jeff Hammond said in a video statement Thursday that he began exploring the idea of moving the game “for the purpose of helping us resolve our debts and the problems that we have financially.”
Hammond said the new deal with NU was necessary for Southern Miss.
“It takes you from six home games to only five. That's not something we wanted to do, and that hurt having to do that,” Hammond said. “But given the situation we face, it's a decision we made.”
Adding to the USM expense report is a reported $2.1 million buyout of football coach Ellis Johnson, who was fired Tuesday after going 0-12 in his first year.
Southern Miss and Nebraska are still scheduled to play in Memorial Stadium in 2015. USM is contractually set to earn a $700,000 payout for that game, NU Assistant Athletic Director Jeff Jamrog said in an interview earlier this month.
Nebraska defeated Southern Miss 49-20 in Lincoln to open this season.
Series with Sooners set
It's about a decade away, but Nebraska and Oklahoma have agreed on dates for a two-game renewal of their storied rivalry.
The Huskers will travel to Norman, Okla., for a game on Sept. 18, 2021. The matchup will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Game of the Century, when Nebraska won at OU in 1971.
NU will host the Sooners at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.
The rivals played each other in 71 straight seasons, from 1927 to 1998, but the Big 12 introduced a divisional scheduling rotation, ending the annual series.
Said Osborne: “I know our fans look forward to nonconference games against high-profile opponents like Oklahoma.”
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