To kick off our series on “My First Husker Game”, I strong-armed some of the CN staff into sharing their memories of the first game they attended. If you haven’t yet submitted your “My First Husker Game” story, you can do it here!
I moved to Nebraska in 1996. Both Ranchdude and I worked for the University of Nebraska so we had access to tickets.
Side note: 1996 was a terrible time to become a Husker fan. The Huskers were at the pinnacle of the sport, being led by one of the all-time great coaches. It seemed like the great red swath that Nebraska was cutting through all of college football would go on forever...
If I attended a game in the 96 season, I don’t remember it. But, I do remember one in 1997. September 13, 1997 to be exact.
A young quarterback by the name of Scott Frost was causing some grumbling in Husker Nation. The Huskers lost two, TWO! games in 1996. He was the QB that had to fill Tommie Frazier’s shoes. He was found lacking in the eyes of many Husker fans.
The University of Central Florida was visiting the mighty Huskers and their talented quarterback, Daunte Culpepper was giving Nebraska fits. Backup Husker quarterback Frankie London entered the game in the second quarter - a move that was predetermined according to Tom Osborne - and led the Huskers on a scoring drive. The touchdown gave Nebraska its first lead of the game.
On the next Husker offensive possession, Scott Frost was again the quarterback.
I heard a strange noise in the stadium. It sounded like...booing.
I looked at Ranchdude and he looked at me equally puzzled. “Is that...?”
“Yes” he said, “They’re booing Frost.”
It was not my favorite moment as a Husker fan. It showed how spoiled and entitled a fan base can become. After all, Frost played pretty brilliantly that day. It was Charlie McBride’s Blackshirts that were having trouble with the Knights - not the offense.
The following week, Scott Frost erased all doubts as to who was leading the team when he sparked the Huskers to an upset win at Washington. He went on to win a national championship that year. He went on to a pro football career and then became a rising star in the ranks of college coaching.
Concurrent to Frost’s upward trajectory, Husker fans wandered in a cold, dark wilderness that saw every decision prove to be the wrong one to reverse the fortunes of a once-proud program. Now, he has been called home and was expected to wave a magic wand.
He tried to tell us that was a sledgehammer and not a magic wand, but we didn’t listen.
Let’s hope chapter two of Frost ends as well as chapter one, despite both having a (relatively speaking) rough start.
I barely remember my first Husker game; my parents had season tickets, but one week, my brother got sick, so I got to go instead of my mom. I think it was in 1975 against Indiana and Lee Corso. About all I remember was seeing the crowd and chanting “Go Big Red”. (When I got home, I remember asking my mom if she heard me on the radio.) My next game was the classic 1978 matchup between #2 Nebraska and #1 Oklahoma. It was a cold, cloudy day, but it didn’t matter to me. Oklahoma fumbled the ball six times on the day, with Billy Sims fumbling at the Nebraska three yard line with three minutes left in the game to seal the Nebraska victory.
It also featured one of the most violent collisions I can remember in a college football game when Nebraska’s John Ruud (the uncle of Barrett and Bo Ruud) nearly decapitated Oklahoma’s Kelly Phelps on a kickoff return. Incredulously, the referees declared Phelps down at the spot despite the ball flying downfield from the tackle, sending Tom Osborne into a fury on the sideline over the blown call.
I am going to offer a slightly different “first game” memory given I’m a Nebrasketball writer here at CN. So my first Husker game was essentially a road game in that it was the Big Ten Tournament here in DC in spring 2017. The game itself was fairly unremarkable as it was a Wednesday 76-67 first round overtime loss to Penn State. Had the Huskers won, the following game would have seen them face Michigan State (a game I also attended that tournament).
The Huskers shot a paltry 34 percent from the field in this one. Evan Taylor led 12th-seeded Nebraska (12-19) with 15 points. But the Cornhuskers’ top scorer, senior guard Tai Webster, shot just 4-for-16. Webster proceeded to foul out in overtime with just 12 points, only two of which came after halftime.
Overall I am 1-2 in Nebrasketball games I have attended. The only win was also my only game at PBA, a December 2017 85-68 win over the Delaware State Hornets. The other game I attended was the 72-70 loss at Maryland this past February.
You don’t really care about my Nebrasketball game you say? Okay, fine then. I went to the 2003 Alamobowl, and the John L Smith era Michigan State Spartans managed to score a mere field goal and lost 17-3. Leaving the stadium we were getting heckled by Nebraska fans, so one of my brothers (who was a sophomore at MSU at the time) walked over to a group of them and asked if they doubled those corn cob hats as certain objects I will not repeat on here and we continued on our way back to the hotel.
October 23, 1976. (I’ll bet you guys thought it’d be in 1930 or something like that, didn’t you?)
Nebraska is ranked #3. They tied LSU 6-6 at the start of the season, then won the next five games by a combined score of 201 - 44. They were in the national title picture until Mizzou came to town, coached by AL Onofrio. Remember that name? No one else does either.
The Tigers won the game 34-24. The most memorable play of the game came when Mizzou had the ball on their own two yard line. It was 3rd-and-14, and they hit a 98-yard bomb that has to be the longest play from scrimmage by an opponent in Nebraska football history. It’s not listed in the media guide. There’s prolly people that were there in 1976 still pissed off about it.
What I remember most is my brother-in-law (at the time) bitching about one name the entire way back to the car. “ !)($*!#)($#^$(#@*$#@ DAVE BUTTERFIELD.” It had to be a 10 mile walk. It felt like it. That name is so burned in his mind that a couple years ago I was in Dallas with my nephew and I was trying to recall Butterfield’s name. “Your dad would know. Let’s call him.” We did. Apparently he lives where cell phone reception sucks. We asked him the name. He screamed “#$)($##*$)%$&*(&%#@^#@# DAVE BUTTERFIELD” and the phone disconnected.
Missouri finished 1976 with a 6-5 record. 6th in the Big Eight. Nebraska lost to Iowa State 37-28, and Oklahoma 20-17. They won the Astro Bluebonnet Bowl 27-24 over Texas Tech to finish the season #7 in the Coaches Poll and #9 in the AP. Everyone bitched that Tom Osborne would never beat Oklahoma, never win the big one, and why in the hell was he our coach anyway.
October 1, 2005
I did not attend my first Husker football game until I was a sophomore in college. Unfortunately Nebraska had entered “The Age of Callahan”. (I don’t know if it’s called that, but in my mind it is and there is ominous music playing in the background.)
My friend had her family tickets in the North end zone and I was incredibly excited. She was not as excited as I was. #1 she had been to many games before and #2 she really wasn’t into football as much as I was.
The Huskers were playing Iowa State and were undefeated to that point. Zac Taylor had a great game. This was the first time that the “West Coast Offense” had started to look like it was advertised to. They were getting yards, but unable to capitalize on a lot of plays.
I remember that Nebraska was losing going into the 4th quarter and my friend wanted to leave, we probably had some very important party to prep for with a nap, but I made her stay. I had never been to a game before and I wanted to see the end. And also, we weren’t losing by that much, maybe we could win.
Nebraska tied up the game and it went into overtime. I couldn’t believe it, my first game and it was overtime. Then it went into double overtime and the double overtime was played right in the North end zone. It was perfect. The Huskers ended up winning 27-20 and I was quite pleased with myself for making us stay.
I don’t remember my actual first Husker game. However, the first football game I remember was against Central Florida in 1997. We usually went up to our seats for the Tunnel Walk, but for whatever reason we went to watch the opposing team walk come in.
There was one player for Central Florida who stood out to me. After seeing him I thought, “he’s huge.”
That guy was Daunte Culpepper.
Nebraska was down 17-14 at halftime. It was a weird feeling in the stadium. I also just realized that it was the Scott Frost boo game. I THINK I remember something about that but I’m not sure. I just remember Daunte Culpepper.
When it comes to attending one’s first Husker game, there are stories of glorious victory. There are memories of walking wide-eyed into a stadium one had only seen on television and being overwhelmed seeing a locale rich in college football history for the first time. There are stories of experiencing the Sea of Red, the balloon release, that first Husker Power chant, seeing one’’s heroes live and in person for the first time, enjoying that stadium Fairbury Frank and basically just savoring the experience.
This is not one of those stories.
I walked into Memorial Stadium for the first time on September 18, 1982 as a freshman with most of my Phi Delta Theta pledge class. I would’ve walked in there for the first time on September 11, 1982, for a game against Iowa but someone offered me $60 for my $25 student ticket and as a dirt-poor college student, I knew I could put it off for a week.
So I made my debut the next week against New Mexico St. I don’t remember what time it kicked off, but I do remember enjoying a great many cocktails starting at about 10am that Saturday morning and then filling a trusty bota bag with schnapps for some in-stadium refreshment.
I remember a great deal of screaming and yelling once they kicked off but can’t recall how much of it was actually directed at the game. The jackbooted thugs of the local constabulary who constituted stadium security took quite an interest in our section that day. Leave it to them to piss on the fun of young gentlemen enjoying the sun and the breeze. True, our language would not get us invited to any church services the next day, but still.
As for the game, it was an absolute shit-stomping. There were probably some local high schools which would have the Huskers a tougher test than New Mexico St. that day.
The final was 68-0 but that makes it sound much closer than it was, Nebraska set NCAA single game records for total yards (883) and rushing yards (677). Deeming a 28-0 halftime wholly unacceptable, Jeff Smith ran for a 68-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the 3rd quarter for the first score of what would be a 33-0 shellacking for those 15 minutes.
By the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the stadium was two-thirds empty which was good thing because one of the future leaders of this great nation who had been peacefully napping since halftime, woke up and fired an empty pint bottle into another empty section of North Stadium where it shattered harmlessly instead of braining some poor unsuspecting bastard.
We decided to conclude our Husker experience at that juncture running like hell from the scene of the crime and never looking back.
It was magical.