Season Opens With Earlier Games
When the start times became known for a string of five games from mid-September to mid-October, Nebraska was staring at five straight night games that encompassed road trips to Fresno State, Michigan State, and Northwestern as well as home dates with Miami and Illinois. We now know that the season will begin with a couple of earlier games as we learned the season opener against Florida Atlantic will start at 2:30 pm and the McNeese State game will begin at 11 am (both times Central).
While it's nice to have some daylight options, the timing isn't necessarily ideal. The opener will come on what will likely be a scorching August day during the peak hours for heat. The concession stands may sell a few more soft drinks, but you'll likely also see a few seniors carried out of the building with heat exhaustion. The heat probably won't bother a Florida team one bit either. You hope it's the same story for the Huskers.
Then comes the game against an FCS school. The biggest worry is that the team won't take the game seriously enough. While that's more of a concern in the practices leading up to the game, an 11 am kick is probably the friendliest time possible for an opponent to spring an upset. The tailgating is muted, which means the fan aren't quite so loud. While 11 am seems plenty late for those of us in the working world, it's still be early for the players. Especially when you factor in the extra time they build in for players to have breakfast, get to the stadium, suit up, and warm up. Their natural rhythms may be a bit off which is a wild card that might work out in an underdog's favor.
The 11 am kick also comes just a week before the team will play a game on the West Coast that starts at 9:30 pm Lincoln time and will end after midnight. That couldn't be more different from a routine perspective. The team should pack some Red Bull for their trip to Fresno State.
That's not to say either early kick should be a big deal. Bo Pelini may have some added incentive to pound the Florida Atlantic team that fired his brother (and perhaps unjustly). You'd hope that the whole team has some resolve not to lose to the last FCS school in McNeese State they'll ever play. You'd like to see those factors override any suboptimal timing. If the Huskers emerge from those games at 3-0, then the timing becomes advantageous when Miami and Illinois come to town to play at night.