EVANSTON – No matter what may transpire over the course of four quarters or possible overtime sessions on Saturday, this is an opener that no one associated with the program will ever forget.

That’s because Northwestern is making history on Saturday morning at 11:30 AM central time when they just kick the ball off against Nebraska in their 2022 season opener.

For the first time in Wildcats history, the team will be playing a game outside of North America as they face the Cornhuskers at Aviva Stadium in Ireland. The unique “Week 0” match-up provides international exposure for the program along with an experience of a lifetime for players beyond what happens on the field.

Hence head coach Pat Fitzgerald made the decision to have the Wildcats stay an extra day after the game to take in some of the sights of the country.

Playing at unique venues is something that the Northwestern program has had through the years, including two Wrigley Field contests and a Yankee Stadium game in Fitzgerald’s tenure. This, however, is something much different.

“Nothing compares to this,” said Fitzgerald of the Ireland trip. “The chance to take our program, the Big Ten conference, Nebraska on the international stage. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We’re really excited about this.”

At the same time, it is a critical contest for the Wildcats, who followed up their Big Ten West title in 2020 with a 3-9 record in 2021 with just a single win in the conference. Getting a win over Nebraska would help set the stage for a bounce-back season for the team with eight returning starters on offense and five on defense.

For running back Evan Hull, one of the team’s top returners who rushed for 1,009 yards last season, it makes the trip to Ireland more important than just a sightseeing experience.

“Really, it’s a business trip to start it out,” said Hull, but it will be a historic one.

WGN News Now previewed Northwestern’s season opener against Nebraska on “Campus Check-In” this week, and you can watch the segment in the video above.