The Nebraska payout to Arkansas State will not only be its largest for a nonconference football opponent for a one-game contract, but also reportedly the biggest check cut by any Power Five program to a visitor over the first two weeks of the season.
Arkansas State is receiving $1.65 million for the Saturday night game, which will kick off at 7 p.m. and be televised by BTN. In coming seasons, Nebraska is under contract to pay $1.17 million to Akron for a visit in 2018 and $1.2 million to South Alabama in 2019.
NU paid Southern Miss $2.125 million for its 2013 visit, according to the Husker athletic department, but it was an amended contract for a game that previously was going to be played in Hattiesburg or possibly New Orleans. By comparison, Nebraska paid Southern Miss $700,000 for coming in 2015.
According to NU, the highest previous payouts to teams for one-game appearances at Memorial Stadium have been in the $1 million range, or slightly above, including Arkansas State in 2012.
Nebraska isn't alone in shelling out big money to lure teams from non-Power Five schools, but USA Today reported Tuesday that the $1.65 million will be the largest amount for games this weekend and the following one. Next closest are Northwestern paying $1.3 million to Nevada and Auburn paying $1.3 million to Georgia Southern, also in games being played Saturday.
According to USA Today, eight schools from the Big Ten, SEC or Pac-12 are paying at least $1 million to a season-opening opponent from an FBS conference outside the Power Five, including Iowa at $1 million for Wyoming's visit to Kinnick Stadium. All told, more than two dozen games will include a Power Five school paying an opponent $1 million or more.
That data does not include payouts from neutral-site games.
NU paid $980,000 to South Alabama for a 2015 visit, according to the Husker athletic department, and hit $1 million for openers with Florida Atlantic (2014) and BYU (2015).
As with Southern Miss in 2013, the contract for Northern Illinois visiting on Sept. 16 is hard to compare, because it also includes "considerations" for a 2016 game that was going to be played at Soldier Field in Chicago but was dropped. That happened after the Big Ten went to a nine-game conference schedule.
Recent Nebraska deals with Wyoming and Fresno State were for three-game series that included those teams hosting the Huskers once. The completion of the two-for-one contract with Fresno State included NU paying the Bulldogs $750,000 last year.