Akron and Nebraska gathered in front of approximately 90,000 fans in Lincoln for a highly-anticipated opener on the evening of September 1.
Instead of the Zips or Cornhuskers claiming a win on kickoff weekend, lightning prevailed. After a prolonged weather delay, the game was ultimately canceled, although there was initially a leak that the game would be rescheduled Sunday, September 2. But Akron’s athletic director Larry Williams shot down the idea of playing that Sunday, citing logistical reasons according to Mitch Sherman of ESPN.
The Zips were open to rescheduling the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Week 14, but Nebraska spurned the rematch opportunity and scheduled a home game against Bethune-Cookman of the FCS on October 27 instead. Week 14 of the FBS season typically features conference championship games, an event that Akron actually participated in a year ago.
But Scott Frost and Nebraska, despite their 0-2 record in two home games against Colorado and Troy, still have eyes set on the Big Ten Championship Game that weekend, per the The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Larry Williams’ response? “They didn’t want to compete at our level,” according to the same article linked above. He claims the lack of a rematch is “severe disappointment” on Akron’s behalf.
In addition to the Zips losing a golden opportunity to eek out a winnable game on the road, Akron also hasn’t collected a check from Nebraska. The Cornhuskers owed the Zips $1.17 million due to the contract. Instead, the program is shelling out $800,000 to lure Bethune-Cookman into Lincoln for some national exposure.
“That’s all in the hands of the lawyers now,” Williams told The Plain Dealer, regarding the absence of Akron’s hefty financial boost from Nebraska.
Akron (2-0) defeated a Northwestern program coming off of a 10-win season at Ryan Field in Week 2. It was the Zips’ first Big Ten win since 1894, when coach John Heisman led them to a victory over Ohio State. Given Nebraska’s sluggish 0-2 start to the Scott Frost era and Akron’s success in 2018, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Zips won this game outright.
But if Nebraska wants to make a run and secure bowl eligibility, playing Bethune-Cookman may be its best bet.
Akron will test its unblemished record against another Power Five program this weekend, traveling to Ames to battle Iowa State. If the Zips do not earn a bid to the MAC Championship Game, they will probably keep their options open and try to schedule a 12th regular season game for the time being. Akron’s bye week is next Saturday, September 29.