(I know, it’s a day late. 20 hour drives take a lot out of you, okay?)
Eighteen hours away from State College, Lincoln, Nebraska has not always been a Big Ten town, but it is unquestionably one of the best. Nebraska was my eleventh Big Ten campus — still missing Michigan State — and it might rival only Penn State as the best venue for visiting fans in the conference.
Here are my observations:
- Nebraska fans are the most hospitable in the Big Ten, maybe even the country. They were almost too nice. I couldn’t walk for 30 seconds without being welcomed to town by a Husker fan — a stark contrast from any other visiting fans I have encountered, who look at Penn State fans like some kind of wounded dog.
- I’m sorry, but Husker fans deserve another bullet point. After the game, dozens of Nebraska fans apologized for the blown call and expressed remorse that it went that way. I’ve never seen anything like it.
- One such fan was this overly-cheerful dude with an accordion, who made us assure him that no one was “giving us a hard time.”
- The town of Lincoln itself reminded me of a slightly more spacious State College, with a wide array of college bars, restaurants, drunk food joints, and everything in between. A personal favorite of mine was Jake’s Cigar Den, where @DaveColePhoto and I enjoyed over priced cigars and bourbon with the moms of Nebraska.
- No trip to Nebraska is complete without paying homage to the creepy Graham Spanier portrait in the University library. Spanier served as Nebraska Chancellor from 1991-1995 (imagine if he had stayed three more years).
- Memorial Stadium itself is one of the few true cathedrals of college football. Located right off the highway, the outside structure looks like the Coliseum. It’s really quite menacing — something that I can only say about Beaver Stadium. Scattered on the concrete walls are inspirational quotes that gave my chills as I walked inside the stadium.
- Not only are Husker fans the nicest in the Big Ten, they also are some of the most passionate. They’ve sold out every game since 1962 (!!!) and their passion can be felt throughout the stadium. There wasn’t a single person not decked out in red.
- One thing that caught me by surprise at first was the balloon release. Hundreds of Nebraska fans release balloons after the first score at every game. I asked the person sitting next to me what would happen if they never scored — you can imagine that it would be quite annoying to hold a balloon filled with helium for the entire game. “That never happens. That will never happen. Period,” was their answer.
- From my seat all the way up in row 95, I had no idea whether the Matt Lehman fumble call was correct, but thankfully…
- …the entire stadium had 4G, so I could check Twitter! Not once did I lose signal. Although, after that call was made it might have been beneficial to ignore Twitter.
- Overall, this was by far my favorite away game of the year, even if the Lincoln Days Inn smelled like cigarrettes and hookers. The Nebraska-Penn State game has the potential to be a great rivalry, with two storied programs, passionate fan bases, and mutual respect.
We’ll be back next week after the Indiana game. Please consider staying a day late from break to support our team.