LINCOLN — Nebraska’s big nonconference game at Oklahoma will kick off before noon Sept. 18. And OU, in a rare criticism of a TV partner, expressed its extreme displeasure.
“We are bitterly disappointed that the great Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry, on the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century, will kick off at 11 a.m.,” read a statement from Sooner Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. “We tried every possible avenue to proactively make our case. The Big 12 Conference also supported our strenuous efforts to secure a more traditional time that would honor this game and our fans. However, in the end, our TV partner chose to exercise its full contractual rights and denied our requests.”
That TV partner, Fox, traditionally broadcasts its biggest game of the day at 11 a.m. as part of its Big Noon scheduling. OU wanted a later kickoff time, perhaps even Saturday night, where it would have run up against Auburn at Penn State on ABC/ESPN.
Nebraska played a lot of afternoon football in 2020. For at least the first month of 2021 — and for the Black Friday game against Iowa — the Huskers do that again.
The Big Ten released start times Thursday for the first month of games and TV designations for most. Nebraska’s Week Zero Aug. 28 game at Illinois will be a noon kickoff in Champaign and televised on Fox. NU’s Sept. 4 home opener against Fordham will kick off at 11 a.m. on BTN. BTN also will have the Huskers’ Sept. 11 home game with Buffalo that kicks off at 2:30 p.m.
The Nov. 26 Black Friday game with Iowa will be televised on BTN at 12:30.
The Huskers’ only night contest, at this point, is a 6:30 home game against Northwestern on Oct. 2. The TV network hasn’t yet been decided. Nebraska’s Nov. 20 game at Wisconsin will be televised on one of ESPN/ABC’s networks but a time hasn’t been designated. The league typically tries to avoid night games in November but has been flexible in recent years.
Nebraska played one such game at Rutgers in mid-December, when the temperatures dipped into frigid territory a week before Christmas. It was NU’s only night game of the truncated 2020 season.
The Sooners, despite being one of the top teams in the nation, get a lot of early games, too. Its annual game against Texas in Dallas is typically an 11 a.m. kickoff, as is a number of OU home games each year that fit into the early television window before top SEC teams tend to dominate the 2:30 and evening windows.
Nebraska and Oklahoma’s most recent games, played before the Huskers left the Big 12, were at night, including the 2010 Big 12 championship. The 2008 and 2009 games were played at night, as well. The 2004 game was at night while the 2005 game in Lincoln was during the day.
The 2000 and 2001 tilts — when both Huskers and Sooners were among the nation’s best teams — kicked off at 11.
» Aug. 28 at Illinois, noon on FOX
» Sept. 4 vs. Fordham, 11 a.m. on BTN (home opener)
» Sept. 11 vs. Buffalo, 2:30 p.m. on BTN
» Sept. 18 at Oklahoma, 11 a.m. on FOX (50th anniversary of the Game of the Century)
» Oct. 2 vs. Northwestern, 6:30 p.m. TV to be determined
» Nov. 26 vs. Iowa, 12:30 p.m. on BTN (Black Friday)