Why is Nebraska vs. Northwestern in Dublin? Game is first edition of delayed Aer Lingus College Football Classic

The Week 0 matchup between Big Ten schools Nebraska and Northwestern will have an international flavor.

That’s because their game will take place in Dublin – just one of only a handful of games college football has ever played not only in Ireland but in Europe.

The game, which is expected to attract up to 18,000 US tourists and another 5,000 European fans, is the first college football game to be played in Dublin since 2016. Whether the fans in attendance will enjoy – or even understand – Big Ten football remains to be seen.

The Sporting News examines why Nebraska-Northwestern is played in Dublin and the history of college football in Ireland:

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Where is Nebraska compared to the Northwest?

Nebraska vs Northwestern game will be played at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Built in 2010, the stadium has a listed capacity of around 51,000. It generally hosts rugby and football competitions.

Two other college football games were held there in 2012 and 2016. The Northwest Nebraska game will be both teams’ first visit to Dublin.

Why is Nebraska-Northwestern in Dublin?

The Nebraska-Northwestern game is the first in a series of five college football games to be played in Dublin called the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The two schools announced the game on May 20, 2021.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our entire varsity community, from student athletes to coaches, alumni and fans,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our program will experience the beautiful Irish culture while we continue to help popularize the game of college football on a global scale.

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“It is an honor to be a part of this once in a lifetime event and we can’t wait to bring the Northwest believers to us in one of the most amazing places on earth.”

Said Nebraska coach Scott Frost in a separate statement:

“The trip to Ireland brings great exposure to the Nebraska football program and a unique experience for our players and Husker fans. Our main focus for the trip will be to play a football game against an outstanding opponent in the North West.

“At the same time, this will be a great cultural opportunity for our young men to visit a part of the world that most of them haven’t seen.”

Aer Lingus also commented on the game when it was announced:

This marks the first time both teams have traveled to Ireland to play and were therefore thrilled to accept an invitation to take to the field and open the 2022 college football season at the world-renowned Aviva Stadium. Nebraska were due to travel to Dublin for their game against Illinois later this summer but were postponed due to COVID-19.

With Nebraska being one of the most successful American college football teams in history and with such strong Irish ties to the city of Chicago where the Wildcats are based, the game is sure to be a huge draw for sports fans here in Ireland as well as in the US and Europe. It is also expected to generate a massive €63 million for the Irish economy over the next year, giving a much-needed boost to the country’s tourism and hospitality sector.

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History of College Football Games in Ireland

The Aer Lingus College Football Classic series was set to begin in 2020, with Notre Dame taking on Navy. However, this season has been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to restrictions on international travel and further logistical difficulties, the game was relocated to Navy Stadium in Annapolis, Md. The competition was eventually canceled after the Fighting Irish agreed to play an all-ACC schedule.

The next game in the series, Nebraska vs. Illinois in 2021, was canceled due to similar difficulties related to COVID-19.

Here’s the full rundown of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic:

Year Opponent result
2020 Notre Dame vs Navy Cancelled
2021 Nebraska vs. Illinois Cancelled
2022 Nebraska to the northwest open
2023 Notre Dame vs Navy open

Nebraska-Northwestern isn’t the only college football game to have been played in Ireland. The idea of ​​American colleges playing football in Ireland originated in 1988 as part of Dublin’s millennium celebrations and the game was dubbed the Emerald Isle Classic.

The games have gone by different names over the years including Shamrock Classic and Croke Park Classic. The game has traditionally involved colleges with strong Irish or Catholic affiliations.

Here is an overview of all college football games played in Dublin:

Year Match Venue result
1988 Boston College vs. Army Lansdowne Street Boston College 38, Army 24
1989 No. 24 Pitt vs. Rutgers Lansdowne Street Pitt 46, Rutgers 29
1996 #19 Notre Dame vs. Navy Croke park Notre Dame 54, Navy 27
2012 Notre Dame vs Navy Aviva Stadium Notre Dame 50, Navy 10
2014 Penn State vs. UCF Croke park Penn State 26, UCF 24
2016 Georgia Tech vs. Boston College Aviva Stadium Georgia Tech 17, Boston College 14
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