With the regular season complete, the Big Ten announced matchups for the league’s first ever Champions Week. Teams from the East division will face teams from the West division. At the top, Ohio State will play Northwestern for the Big Ten Championship.
As for Rutgers (3-5), they will face Nebraska (2-5) on Friday, December 18 at
4 p.m. ET at SHI Stadium. (UPDATE: It was announced on Tuesday that kickoff will now be at 7:30 p.m. ET as Indiana vs. Purdue was cancelled.)
All of the Champions Week matchups are here:
The two programs were originally scheduled to play each other this season before the Big Ten reduced the conference season to eight games due to the global pandemic.
Despite having to play a day early, Rutgers caught a break playing at home despite not winning at SHI Stadium this season. For a team that has played eight games in consecutive weeks, the idea of going more than 1,000 miles away on what would have been the longest road trip of the season was not an appealing prospect.
Rutgers is 0-3 against Nebraska since joining the Big Ten and they last played in 2017 with the Huskers winning 27-17.
Nebraska fans were upset at the time that their regular season game against Rutgers was dropped for this season. Now they will have their chance but it’s likely they didn’t expect as competitive a team that Greg Schiano will have ready for this matchup.
The Cornhuskers have had a disappointing season with one score losses to Northwestern, Iowa and Minnesota, which occurred this past Saturday. They also suffered a 18 point loss to Illinois. Their only wins came against Penn State and Purdue.
Nebraska is led by quarterback Adrian Martinez, who has completed 84 of 123 pass attempts (68.3%) while throwing 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He is also tied with backup quarterback Luke McCaffrey for a team high 364 rushing yards along with 3 touchdowns. Receiver Wan’Dale Robinson is actually third on the team with 216 yards rushing for 5.5 yards per carry and leads the Huskers with 45 catches for 382 yards.
The Scarlet Knights have won 2 of its last 3 games and have tied a program best three Big Ten victories. A win over Nebraska would set the program’s mark for most Big Ten wins in a season at four.
Who will start at quarterback for Rutgers will be the big question during the week. Noah Vedral, who transferred from Nebraska after last season, has started seven games for RU but left Saturday’s game at Maryland in the third quarter after taking what appeared to be a dirty hit on his ankle. Former starter Artur Sitkowski came into the game and helped lead Rutgers to a 27-24 overtime victory. Whether the health of Vedral even allows for a decision to be made remains to be seen.
We’ll have plenty of coverage this week leading up to this game, which also includes Early National Signing Day beginning on Wednesday.