In life, it is always new and exciting when we make a new friend. Well the Nebraska Cornhuskers are going to be both our new friend and our defacto "rival". Until Pittsburgh and Penn State stop hating on each other like they are on an episode of "Cheaters", Penn State's rivalary with Nebraska will be the closest thing we will get to having an actual rival until further notice (and no, Ohio State did not think of us as a rival - more like a nagging itch).
So what exactly do we know about Nebraska? We know they have great tradition in football. We know they have our National Championship from 1994 (sorry Jon and Husker Mike). We also know they have an outstanding Women's Volleyball program that will push our Lady Lions even harder.
We asked Jon and Husker Mike from Corn Nation to take some time to introduce the Penn State fans to all things Nebraska. In part one of this three part Q&A we take a look at things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska's history, and previous Penn State vs. Nebraska games.
Now that Nebraska is Penn State's official "rival" the Nittany Lions will be making trips out to Lincoln ever other year. Can you describe a typical (if there is such a thing) game day atmosphere outside (tailgating) and inside Memorial Stadium?
Husker Mike: Memorial Stadium is located on campus a few blocks from downtown; it’s an urban setting, so there aren’t acres of parking lots there. It’s a split between tailgating and bar hopping downtown.
Jon: Mike is a season ticket holder, and I’m going to let him cover the Lincoln game day questions. Given that, Corn Nation has a Vistor’s Guide to Lincoln, and we’ll be updating that before the start of the 2011 football season.
Best place to eat in Lincoln?
HM: I’d have to say Misty’s...especially if you arrive in town the day before the game. It’s THE place to go the night before the game, as they hold a pep rally with the Husker pep band.
Jon: What you didn’t ask is - "Are there any food traditions specific to Nebraska that we should know about?", so I’ll ask and answer that for you. Runza’s seem to be specific to Nebraska. A runza is basically bread filled with beef, pork, cabbage and other seasonings. If you don’t want to eat them, you can stick them in your pocket and they’ll help you stay warm at November games.
The other is red beer. That’s typically tomato juice mixed with a typical cheap American beer. Personally, I favor V8 juice with a little tabasco, but either way, it makes a good breakfast.
Best bar to watch a game?
HM: Most everybody is at the game...but your best bet is probably Barry’s.
The treatment of visiting Big 10 fans always seems to be a problem at certain Big 10 schools (I'm looking in your direction Ohio State). What type of hospitality do visiting fans receive in Lincoln? If I'm wearing blue and white will I be in for a long afternoon?
HM: Nebraska fans typically pride themselves on being a little more civil to visitors than others. Doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of d-bags who want to stir up some trouble, but as long as you come in looking to have a good time and keep your screaming and yelling confined to the game action, you’ll likely be greeted warmly.
Memorial Stadium currently holds 81k+. A few Big 10 schools seat 100k+, with Michigan once again claiming the title of largest stadium. I know this takes time and lots of money but, any chance Nebraska joins the 100k club in the near (15 years) future?
HM: 100K? Not a chance. NU (get the message, Northwestern? :-) is expanding the stadium by 5k, which will get Husker game attendance to top 90k. Remember, Nebraska is still a relatively small state population wise.
Penn State have played some pretty memorable games in past years. For younger Penn State fans, the 2002 game at Beaver Stadium was an environment that was so intense and fanatical that it was arguable one of the Top 5 games ever played at the stadium. For the older generation, 1982's last second 27-24 Penn State victory is also pretty memorable. Can you recall any memorable Nebraska vs. Penn State games?
HM: I think Nebraska fans have their own opinions about 1982. :-) I think you’ve nailed them all, though Husker fans do remember that 1983 Kickoff Classic as a great start to that season.
Jon: Oh, man. The 1982 game happened while I was at Nebraska, and it still sticks with me to this day. I remember the 1983 game, largely because revenge was still fresh in my mind at the beginning of the next season. I remember a friend of mine asking me before that game what I thought would happen, and I turned to him and said "We’re going to crush them". 44-6, not bad.
2002 was like watching a bad dream, while 2003 was nice revenge, but at that time we were still trying to figure out what was happening to the football team, so it’s mostly forgotten.
In your opinion, who is the greatest Cornhusker to ever play?
HM: Greatest ever? That’s a toughie. A few years ago, I might have said Tommie Frazier after a lot of thinking about it. Now, I think it’s probably Ndamukong Suh...though I want to digest that selection for a few more years.
Jon: Ndamukong Suh is still fresh in everyone’s minds, and he is the most decorated Husker ever, but I’m probably going to go with Tommie Frazier. Frazier played in three national title games, winning two, and being named MVP of all three. He was the player who put Nebraska over the top in the title runs of the 90s.
Tom "Train Wreck" Novak is worth a mention. He played from 1946-1949, just after World War II and during a terrible time for Nebraska football. Despite playing on some bad teams (and for three different coaches), Novak earned all conference honors all four years. His number 60 is permanently retired. The stories of his toughness are legendary - my favorite being how he once came off the field with broken ribs, asked a trainer to push them back into place and tape them up because he was going back in. Is it true? I have no clue, but it’s a helluva story.
Here is the scenario, Nebraska is down 4 with 2 minutes left and 90 yards to go - which QB do you want (Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier, Eric Crouch) and why?
HM: Truthfully? 90 yards to go? I’m going off the board: Scott Frost... who actually did take the team about 60 yards with just over a minute left down 7 to tie the game, much to the chagrin of Michigan fan.
Jon J: Rather than answer this question myself, I poised it to the CN community.
What are some game day traditions in Lincoln?
HM: The biggest is the pregame tunnel walk. Nebraska was the first college-only venue to have replay boards in 1994, and they started a tradition of showing the team walking out of the locker room on the screens. The school sprung this on fans as a surprise, and they went nuts. Nebraska went on to win national championships three out of the next four years, and there’s absolutely no way they dump the Tunnel Walk. It starts about 5-6 minutes before kickoff. Otherwise, it’s standard college football stuff. Waive the arms to the school song after the extra point. The "Husker! Power!" chant going back and forth between the two sides of the stadium.
I have to go here (and I know you've answered this question before) - 1994. Do you still think Penn State doesn't deserve a share of the National Championship?
Jon: You stole that one in 1982, so no. (See that article link about 1982, above)
Say the BCS was around back in 1994. Penn State vs. Nebraska. Who wins?
HM: Nebraska. Probably by two touchdowns.
Jon: I believe Nebraska had a much better defense than Penn State that season. I’ll stick with Mike’s answer. Besides, I’m sure this will be the topic of much debate in the coming season. It deserves a longer answer. :)
Be sure to check back next week for part 2 of our Q&A with Corn Nation next week.