Who Has Nebraska Football Played the Most?

who has nebraska football played the most

Nebraska is home to one of the most prestigious football programs in the country. The Cornhuskers haven’t been their traditional selves for a handful of years now, but that doesn’t diminish the decades of decadence they enjoyed in the past. Nebraska made a big conference move more than 10 years ago that forever changed the course of the university. So, in its well over 100 years of football, who has Nebraska played the most?

Who Has Nebraska Football Played the Most?

Includes all games through Dec. 1, 2022.

10: Pittsburgh – 24 Games (6-15-3)

It’s a weird one, I know.

Nebraska first played Pitt in 1921, which ended in a 10-0 Husker victory in Pittsburgh. The teams met again in 1927, again in Pittsburgh but with the Panthers winning this time, 21-13. The programs played annually through 1942, then had contests in five of six years between 1953 and 1958. The series was renewed with a home-and-home in 2004 and 2005, both Nebraska victories. These teams haven’t played since the Huskers won the 2005 matchup, 7-6, in Lincoln.

These were two very powerful programs of yesteryear. Pitt was independent until 1990, and while the Cornhuskers have spent almost their entire existence in a conference, there was more room for non-conference scheduling back in the day. These teams played a number of big-time matchups, like the 1937 contest in which No. 1 Pitt barely held off the previously-undefeated Huskers, 13-7, en route to its own undefeated season.

This series will be overtaken by a Big Ten opponent in the coming years, likely Illinois (though Indiana and Penn State are possibilities).

9: Oklahoma State – 43 Games (37-5-1)

Nebraska and Oklahoma State began their history in 1960 when the Cowboys joined the Big Eight conference. That set in motion a 36-year period in which these teams didn’t miss a season against one another. In 1996, the Big Eight expanded to become the Big 12, Nebraska and Oklahoma State we put is opposing divisions, and the annual series ceased. The Huskers and Cowboys have played just seven times since.

The Cowboys opened this series well, winning the first two meetings in 1960 and 1961. But they didn’t get another win until 2002 – 41 years and 37 tries later. Nebraska put together a 24-game win streak over OSU from 1974 through 1999, which only didn’t stretch from 1962 because of a 17-17 tie in Stillwater in 1973. Oklahoma State put up more of a fight in the later years, winning three of the last five games these teams have played. But Nebraska claims the last victory in this series: a 51-41 outlasting of Oklahoma State in a ranked matchup in Stillwater in 2010.

These teams do have plans to meet again, but not for a while. In 2019, matchups between the Cornhuskers and Cowboys for 2034 and 2035 were announced. Get excited, current 7 year olds, you might get a chance to play in this one!

8: Iowa – 53 Games (30-20-3)

There have been plenty of hiatuses in this series, but the Huskers and Hawkeyes have been playing since 1891.

Iowa won the first meeting between these two way back when, 22-0 in Omaha, and the series continued annually through 1899. A few games were played in the 1900s, then it was made annual again from 1913 through 1919. They skipped the 1920s before coming together almost every year from 1930 through 1946, then didn’t play again until a four-game series from 1979 through 1982 and a home-and-home in 1999 and 2000.

When Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, this series immediately returned to annual status. Through the Cornhuskers have had the historical edge, 30-20-3, and were dominant in the early days and in the 1930s, including an eight-game win streak from 1931 through 1941, the Hawkeyes have had the better of it since the teams became conference-mates. From 2015 through 2021, Iowa was on its best run in the rivalry, achieving seven-straight victories over their border foes. But Nebraska is currently the one laughing after snapping that streak in 2022 with a 24-17 triumph in Iowa City on Nov. 25.

7: Minnesota – 63 Games (25-36-2)

This series dates way further back than just since Nebraska and Minnesota became division-mates.

The Gophers won the first meeting in 1900, a 20-12 victory in Lincoln, and had a strangehold on this series in its earliest days. These teams played every year but one from 1900 to 1913, and Minnesota won 10 of those contests.

They then took a couple decades off, returning to the gridiron in 1932 to begin a rivalry that was played annually from 1934 through 1952. Again, Minnesota got the better of Nebraska for the most part, going 18-3 against the Huskers between 1932 and 1954. During this time, the Gophers collected 10-consecutive Ws from 1940 through 1949, their longest positive streak of the series. When the series revived in 1959, Nebraska found its footing.

Nebraska and Minnesota played 16 times between 1959 and 1990 – the Cornhuskers won all but one of those meetings, and that was in 1960. From 1963 through 2012, Nebraska put together 16-straight victories against the Gophers, amassing its longest win streak of the rivalry.

This series returned in 2011 upon Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten. The Huskers won the first two contests as conference-mates before the Gophers snapped a winless run that had lasted since 1960. Minnesota has now defeated Nebraska in each of its last four tries, most recently upending the Huskers, 20-13, on Nov. 5 in Lincoln.

In modern times, this series has brought us the $5 Broken Bits of Chair Trophy, an excellent story that embodies the sort of uniqueness you can only find in college football.

6: Colorado – 71 Games (49-20-2)

It’s old Big Eight opponents from here on out.

Nebraska and Colorado played their first game in 1898 – a 23-10 Nebraska win in Boulder – and then met five times between 1902 and 1907. The tone for this series was set early, with the Huskers defeating the Buffaloes in five of the opening six matchups. Nebraska currently holds a 49-20-2 advantage over CU.

These two wouldn’t see each other again until 1948, but the game became annual from there. Nebraska and Colorado competed in every campaign between then and 2010 before the Buffs dipped for the Pac-12 one year before the Huskers ran for the Big Ten. They’ve met just twice since, though future games are scheduled for 2023 and 2024.

Other than the late 1940s through the early 1960s, Nebraska has pretty much dominated its western border foe. From 1968 through 1985, the Cornhuskers amassing 18-straight Ws over the Buffaloes, and from 1991 through 2000, Nebraska went undefeated against CU again. Many of those meetings in the 1990s were extremely heated and tight affairs, but Nebraska ultimately pulled through, winning every game from 1996 through 2000 by five points or fewer.

Currently, Colorado is the one who can claim supremacy, though. The Buffs won the last two meetings between these teams, which occurred in 2018 and 2019, triumphing most recently in Sept. 7, 2019, in Boulder, 34-31, in a dramatic victory.

Though Nebraska has undoubtedly owned this series for the most part, this rivalry has had some serious heat behind it at times. For years, this matchup was played to close out every regular season, and it just feels right to see these programs share a field.

5: Oklahoma – 88 Games (38-47-3)

This is the series most people older than 30 associate with Nebraska.

These historic opponents were introduced to one another in 1912 via a 13-9 Nebraska victory in Lincoln. They played a handful of contests in the 1920s, then began their annual dates in 1930. These two met every season until 1997, their regularly-scheduled showdowns delayed because of the Big 12’s expansion and Oklahoma and Nebraska finding themselves in opposing divisions.

The Huskers had the better of the Sooners in the early days, going 15-3-2 against Oklahoma from 1912 through 1942. Then, OU immediately began its best run in the rivalry, defeating Nebraska 16 times in a row from 1943 through 1958, most of the time absolutely driving the Huskers into the ground.

After the Huskers finally snapped that streak in 1959, the series evened up more. The 1960s were fairly even between these two, but Oklahoma again asseted its supremacy in the 1970s, outdoing the Cornhuskers in nine of 10 games from 1972 through 1980. The 1990s brought Nebraska’s best spell against the Sooners since the start of the rivalry, with the Huskers putting together their best winning run of the series of seven from 1991 through 1997.

This rivalry lost some luster when the teams were divided into different divisions, though they still played some in the new-look Big 12, in the regular season and in the Big 12 Championship, which happened twice (2006, 2010). Oklahoma has generally had the better of Nebraska since the series ceased regularity, going 8-2 in the 10 meetings since. Most recently, these teams met as non-conference opponents on Sept. 17 in Lincoln, and OU stomped its competition, 49-14.

There have been many seasons where one of these teams delivered the other its only lose of the campaign, and at one point, this was one of, if not the premier rivalry in college football. These teams will play again in a home-and-home in 2029 and 2030, and those contests will hopefully be competitive and indicative of what this rivalry has produced over the decades.

4: Kansas State – 95 Games (78-15-2)

The Huskers and Wildcats began their history in 1909 with a 59-0 beating from Nebraska upon its southern neighbors. These teams played every year from then until 2010, excluding a brief haitus from 1917 through 1921.

Nebraska has owned this series with an .821 win percentage over K-State. The Wildcats didn’t get their first win over the Cornhuskers until 1930, needing 15 tries to get the better of Nebraska. The Huskers have put together long winning streaks over Kansas State several times, including a 29-game positive run from 1969 through 1997. During that period, not only did Nebraska win every game, but K-State only played within two scores of the Huskers five times – that’s how thoroughly NU beat down KSU.

Kansas State’s best time in this series was from 2002 through 2004 when the Wildcats put together a three-game win streak. Only three other times have the Wildcats beat Nebraska twice in a row.

These teams have not met since Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten, and there are no current plans for them to share a field in the future. Nebraska won the last contest, 48-13, in 2010 in Manhattan, and are riding a six-game victory streak that will not be tested unless these two meet again.

3: Missouri – 104 Games (65-36-3)

The Nebraska-Missouri relationshpi did not start well.

The two were meant to play one another in 1892 for their first-ever meeting, but it was never played. Instead, Missouri forfeited, and Nebraska won, 1-0. Why? Because the Tigers refused to share a field with the Huskers’ right half back, George Flippin, who was Black.

In return, Nebraska has dominated Missouri of the course of more than 100 meetings, 65-38-3.

The two actually played a game in 1893 and continued competing annually through 1902. They played sporadically in the 1910s before returning to regular matchups in 1922. From then until 2010, these programs met every season.

From 1938 through 1962, Missouri was the stronger force in this rivalry. The Tigers triumphed in 18 of 24 games during that time, including periods of five and six-straight wins over the Huskers. But after that, Nebraska took control, especially by the 1980s.

From 1979 through 2002, Nebraska beat Missouri 24 outings in a row, often eviserating the Tigers by 20-plus points. From 1989 through 1996, the Cornhuskers smashed Missouri by an average margin of 42 points, including two 57-point victories. For a while, it simply wasn’t a contest between these two.

Finally, Mizzou punched back in 2003, and the Tigers claimed four wins out of six games. But the Cornhuskers had the last laugh, winning both in 2009 and 2010 before both teams shipped off for different conferences. In the 2010 contest, the Huskers rode a 24-point first quarter to a 31-17 victory in Lincoln over the No. 6 Tigers in what has remained (and will remain, unless the 105th meeting between these teams is ever scheduled) the final action of this rivalry.

2: Iowa State – 105 Games (86-17-2)

In 105 tries, Iowa State has only beaten Nebraska 17 times. That is bad.

The Cornhuskers, then the Bugeaters, opened this series up with a win, 12-4, in 1896. These two played 18 more times until the series became annual in 1926, a fact that lasted until Nebraska moved to the Big Ten in 2011.

There was never really a period in this series when Iowa State had much of the upper hand. From 1943 through 1945, the Cyclones beat the Cornhuskers three times a row, their best-ever run in the matchup. From 1957 through 1960, ISU won three of four contests versus Nebraska. Other than that, it’s been mostly one-or-two-off victories spaced out with years in between.

Nebraska’s longest winning run against Iowa State is 15, set from 1921 through 1937. Otherwise, the Cornhuskers amassed winning streaks of 8, 11, 13, and 14 while these two teams were still playing each other.

The final two games between these teams were quite close, though. In 2009, Iowa State barely hung on for its 18th victory all-time against the Huskers, 9-7, in Lincoln. In 2010, Nebraska returned the favor in Ames, though in a higher-scoring contest, edging out the Cyclones, 31-30, in the final meeting between these two (as of now, though nothing is scheduled for the future).

1: Kansas – 117 Games (91-23-3)

Nebraska’s most-played football opponent of all-time is Kansas, and it’s one of the most-played college football series of all-time, too.

Currently, this is the 27th most-played college football series ever, and if these teams hadn’t stopped meeting when Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, it would be sixth on the list. But with no more showdowns between these teams scheduled still more than a decade on, it’s likely that this will continue to be passed on the all-time charts.

To say Nebraska has had the better of Kansas across history is an understatement. A dominating 91-23-3 series score speaks for itself, and if that’s not enough, then a 36-year unbeaten run over the Jayhawks from 1969 through 2004 should prove the point effectively. There were brief periods in the 40s, 50s, and 60s when KU cobbled together some success over its northern neighbor, like a five-game victory run from 1957 through 1961. Plus, Kansas won five of the first eight meetings between these two, with all of those games coming from between 1892 and 1900. But that’s about it.

Near the end, the Jayhawks put up more of a fight than usual, winning the 2005 and 2007 contests between these programs to snap Nebraska’s 36-year run and keep the momentum going. But the Cornhuskers were victorious in the last three games these teams played, including a 20-3 triumph in Lincoln in the final one in 2010.

This rivalry used to have more heat back in the day before Nebraska truly ran away with the series. But to call it a rivalry now would be disingenuous. By the time the Huskers bolted for the Big Ten, this “rivalry” was simply a long-played series between two schools that are reasonably close to one another and care about different sports. Since 1962, Kansas has only beaten Nebraska four times.

Feature photo courtesy of Mawhamba on Wikimedia Commons.

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