CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — For the first time in program history, Illinois football will play a game somewhere other than the United States. The Illini will open their 2021 season in Dublin, Ireland against Nebraska.
The game is part of the Aer Lingus College Football Series. It will be the 8th college football game played in Ireland since 1988, and the 2nd in the Aer Lingus series. Notre Dame and Navy will kick the series off in 2020.
The game was originally scheduled for November 13th in 2021, so Illinois will be losing one of their home games that season but will gain an additional bye week.
Josh Whitman said that the week will be big for the Illini both on the field and off. The game puts Illinois in front of new fans, and gives the players and coaches a chance to learn about a new culture.
“The national stage that playing in Week Zero will afford Illinois football I think is significant. All eyes in the college football world will be on us in that weekend and it’s a great opportunity for us to promote Illinois football,” Whitman said.
“When we saw the mayor come in we were like ‘Who’s this guy?’, with the chain and stuff. Then when he started speaking we were like ‘Oh, okay’. It was just, we’re just all grateful for the opportunity to go to Dublin and explore their culture and just learn about them,” sophomore safety Sydney Brown said.
For more information and the full release from the University, click here.