Despite canceled game, Nebraska may play Akron this season after all

Fans at Memorial Stadium dance to music during a lightning and rain delay in the first half of an NCAA college football game between Nebraska and Akron in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Severe weather caused the cancellation of Nebraska’s Week 1 game against Akron, but there’s still a chance the Huskers and Zips could play this season.

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said Wednesday that the school offered to house Akron in dorms overnight and feed everyone in the Zips’ travel party in order to play the game to Sunday morning, but Akron ultimately declined because of the housing situation. Now Nebraska, in hopes of returning to a bowl game this year, is looking for a 12th opponent.

It could very well be the Zips.

Nebraska and Akron have a common open date, with one caveat

Moos acknowledged that Dec. 1 is a date that has been discussed to play the game. However, that is the day of both the Big Ten and MAC title games. Nebraska is not expected to compete for a division title this year, but Akron may be hesitant to commit to that date on the heels of its MAC East title (despite just a 7-5 overall record) in 2017.

“I did leave with [Akron athletic director] Larry Williams the options of a 12th game. I thought we had very good dialogue. We kind of left it verbally that we’d like to play the game,” Moos said via Husker Online. “We don’t have a common bye so it’d have to be at the end of the year. If both schools agreed to it, we could play on the Saturday after the end of the regular season barring if either team was in their conference championship game.

“That’s a loose end out there. That’s an option.”

In a Sept. 2 statement, Williams acknowledged discussions about playing Nebraska on Dec. 1 “should either team need the game to become bowl eligible.”

Nebraska’s contract with Akron includes a payout of nearly $1.2 million. Moos said that sum does not need to be paid until March.

“I think at the end of the day, for sure those are going to be covered,” Moos said. “We just have to see if that’s the team we’re going to be playing. I think they want to play the game. And the [money] guarantee is important, as I understand. To me, that would be the most solid option.”

What other options does Nebraska have?

Nebraska has a bye on Oct. 27. To fill a spot then for an additional home game, Moos acknowledged that the opponent would almost certainly be an FCS team and that “options are limited.” The goal for the Huskers is to play a 12-game schedule and for the rescheduled game to be played at home.

“We do want to play 12 games. We do want to be bowl eligible. We want to extend the season and get the practices that come with a bowl game,” Moos said.

Fans will not be refunded for the Akron game, but Moos said those tickets will be honored if a 12th game comes to fruition.

Why didn’t Nebraska and Akron play on Sunday?

There was an announcement on Fox stating that the game would be played Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. local time in Lincoln, but that was soon refuted.

Williams, in a statement released Sunday, said that the Akron team would have had to stay “in multiple locations.” Moos acknowledged that Wednesday, saying that the team would have been scattered across multiple dorms.

“They had a concern because it would have been a couple of dorms. We couldn’t get everybody into one. And it was just not a practical option for them all things considered,” Moos said.

Moos also confirmed Williams’ statement that Akron tried to secure hotel accommodations somewhere in the Lincoln area without any success.

“Last night during the lightning delay, The University of Akron tried to secure accommodations for the team within a reasonable distance from Lincoln, Neb. These accommodations were not available or would have required our team to stay in multiple locations, which is not in the best interests of our team and student-athletes,” Williams’ statement said.

“Also, thunderstorms were anticipated throughout the Lincoln area Sunday, making even the opportunity to play very questionable. The University of Akron and The University of Nebraska are in discussions to make up the game in Week 14 of the college football season should either team need the game to become bowl eligible. The announcement of the potential of playing the game on Sunday was unfortunate, but premature, as both teams and Fox had not agreed to the details of playing the game.”

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