On September 18, 2021 Nebraska and Oklahoma will meet for the 87th time and honor the 50th Anniversary of one of the greatest college football games ever played. Big 8, Big 12, and national championships would often be decided on the fate of this game for the next forty years. However, hard times have fallen on the Cornhuskers in recent years. As Nebraska kicks off against the #3 team in the nation Saturday, it will have been 1827 days since the Huskers beat its last AP ranked opponent in the regular season. Nebraska has struggled in the Big Ten, but just how much compared to its peers?
Nebraska’s ranked win drought is second to only Rutgers in the Big Ten at 4327 days since it beat #23 South Florida in 2009. Nebraska beat #22 Oregon in 2016 to earn its most recent ranked win. Nebraska is a full two years behind Purdue who beat #19 ranked Iowa late in 2018. Half of the conference (Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Michigan) has beaten a ranked team since the start of the 2020 season.
Iowa is fresh off its most recent top ten win after beating Iowa State just last weekend. The Hawkeyes are joined by Ohio State, Northwestern, and Indiana as Big Ten teams with a top ten win since 2020. Big Ten recent additions, Rutgers and Maryland, have both gone over 5000 days since their last top ten wins in the crazy 2007 season. The third newest Big Ten member has also waited the third longest for a top ten win with 2141 days since it beat #6 Michigan State.
Since Penn State joined the conference in 1990, Northwestern and Indiana have yet to beat a top five opponent. Of the remaining twelve teams, Nebraska has gone the longest since beating a top five opponent. Who was that opponent? Nate Hybl’s 2001 Oklahoma team that lost to Nebraska in Lincoln after Eric Crouch’s Heisman defining play. It’s been 7266 days (and likely counting) since the Huskers last win over a top five team. Even Rutgers managed an upset of #2 South Florida in 2007.
Beating Oklahoma on Saturday would be huge, but you didn’t need a graph to tell you that. These graphs do show how huge a win over any ranked team in conference play would be for the program. After OU, Frost has a chance to beat four more ranked teams (per ESPN at time of writing). Progress in 2021 needs to be resetting the clock on at least one of these tables.