Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska Kearney football team’s 2024 schedule features five home games, two road non-conference game contests and a bye week.
The Lopers begin the season Aug. 29 (Thurs.) at longtime rival Chadron State and will head to Southwest Minnesota State on Oct. 5.
The non-league dates and bye came about as part of new Division II “Week 0” legislation and with Lincoln and Northeastern State no longer part of the MIAA football slate. Week zero allows D2 schools to start the season early and play 11 games over 12 weeks. KRVN’s Jayson Jorgensen talked with coach Ryan Held about the layout this fall for the Lopers.
The original 2024 MIAA schedule had UNK at Lincoln on Oct. 5. With the Blue Tigers leaving the conference in July, and Upper Iowa having left the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conf. (NSIC) last year, that allowed the Lopers and SMSU to fill voids in their schedules. This will be the first meeting between the two.
Next, the Lopers were set to head to NSU on Sept. 12. With the RiverHawks having found a different opponent, that allowed UNK to look for a Week 0 or Week 2 game. UNK and Chadron met in Kearney during the short 2020 COVID season with the last trip to the Eagles coming back in 2010 when both were members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conf. (RMAC). The Lopers lead the all-time series 50-21-1 and has won the last four meetings. Finally, this series ran continuously from 1960-80 and then again between 1990-2011.
The last time the Blue & Gold had two non-games in the same season was 2013 (at South Dakota Mines and at FCS-member Central Arkansas). In 2024, the team’s bye week will be Sept. 12; the program’s last bye week came in 2007.
UNK opens its home slate with night games vs. national powerhouse Northwest Missouri (Sept. 5) and Central Oklahoma (Sept. 21) with 2023 playoff participant Pittsburg State visiting for Homecoming (Oct. 12). The final two opponents coming to Cope Stadium are 2023 bowl qualifier Emporia State (Oct. 26) and longtime rival Fort Hays State (Nov. 16).
Future schedules (2025 and 2026 seasons) are to be determined as the MIAA works on league membership and the number of league games football will play. The Lopers begin spring ball in late March with fall camp starting in late July or early August.