Expectations are high for Nebraska in its first season as a Big Ten member, and we'll soon find out how the Huskers match up in their new league.
But how would Big Red have fared in the past? Would Nebraska's dominant teams of the late 1990s won the Big Ten? What about those not-so dominant teams of the past decade?
BTN.com is trying to find those answers. The site is conducting a simulation, along with WhatIfSports, on how the Big Ten would have unfolded had Nebraska joined the league 15 years ago. The project splits the Big Ten into the two current divisions, creates mock schedules that feature eight league games and simulates each matchup 101 times. The average scores from each simulated matchup are used to determine winners. There are even simulated game recaps.
How did the Big Ten shake out?
1996: Nebraska wins the Legends division in its first year as a Big Ten member, going 7-1 in league play. But the Huskers fell to Leaders division champ Ohio State 20-10 in the league championship game. Interestingly, a Northwestern team that shared the Big Ten title with Ohio State in 1996 went a disappointing 3-5 in league play in the simulation.
1997: Nebraska and Michigan might have split the 1997 national title in reality, but the simulation leaves no doubt about the better team that season. Michigan goes 8-0 in the simulation, while the Huskers go 5-3 with a 19-11 loss to the Maize and Blue. The Wolverines meet archrival Ohio State in the Big Ten title game but suffer a 37-34 loss to the Leaders division champ.
1998: Nebraska wins a three-way tiebreaker atop the Legends division at 6-2 and advances to the league championship game to play Ohio State, which went 8-0 in the Leaders division. The Buckeyes end up winning the league championship 34-17. Don't you think John Cooper would love this simulation?
More season simulations are on the way in the coming weeks, with 1999 being posted in a matter of minutes.
It's a pretty cool feature worth checking out.