Will McNeese State be NU’s Last FCS Opponent Ever?
Almost a dozen years after their previous and only meeting, Nebraska will once again host the McNeese State Cowboys. In the prior game, Jammal Lord set a pair of school records by rushing for 218 yards and three scores and accounting for 369 yards of total offense while passing for another touchdown. It was also the first game in which NU took the field as an unranked team in over two decades. The upcoming game could be another milestone - the Huskers last football game against a lower subdivision school.
It was around Valentine's Day last year that the Big Ten agreed to stop scheduling games against FCS programs. While the games are bankable in the sense that schools with loyal fan bases can still fill the stands against these largely uncompetitive programs, they offer little upside. You receive no credit for a victory and nothing but shame if you lose or even if the game is close.
The Big Ten did not mandate that member schools cancel any games already scheduled against the FCS. That's why McNeese State remains on NU's schedule. As you look into the future though, you don't see another similar opponent scheduled. Chances are you won't see another one appear unless something extraordinary happens (e.g. a last minute cancellation puts the Huskers in a bind).
The Cowboys were a good team by FCS standards a year ago. They beat the only FBS school they played, by winning at South Florida in the season opener. McNeese State went on to win 10 games and qualify for the FCS playoffs. However, they've lost a ton to graduation including a quality starting quarterback, their leading rusher, and their four most productive receivers which includes their leading return man.
The hopes for another good season (and possible upset) rest with the Cowboy defense. Their best defensive tackle weighs 246 lbs. Their defensive ends are built like linebackers. The top linebackers are lightweights too. This seems like an opponent the Huskers can just plow over. The trio of quarterback Tommy Armstrong, running back Imani Cross, and fullback Andy Janovich all go 220 lbs. or more. Running behind the 300-pounders on NU's offensive line, they can probably push the pile and fall forward for five yards at a clip.
Thus far, Nebraska's avoided an embarrassing loss to a lower division foe. Thankfully, this doesn't look like the year where it's likely to happen. Which means Husker fans may be spared ever having to see it.