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Everything you need to know about a football gameday at Nebraska

The Game Day traditions, history of Memorial Stadium and what to expect when tailgating

Nebraska Spring Football Game Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

When you think of Lincoln, Nebraska, you may just conjure up images of corn fields. However, contrary to popular belief, Lincoln hosts one of the best gameday environments in the country. With a population of nearly 300,000, Lincoln is a city that’s growing and sports a burgeoning downtown scene that only adds to the gameday experience.

Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium is nestled right next to a downtown and Railyard district with a number of great restaurants and bars within walking distance. Throw in the live music, a number of monuments and statues, and a beautiful campus to walk through and you have yourself a great fall Saturday.

History of Memorial Stadium

Commonly referred to as “The Sea of Red”, Memorial Stadium was built in 1923. What started as a stadium with a 31,080 capacity has ballooned into one of the most iconic football venues in the country with a capacity of 85,458. However, attendance numbers sometimes exceed 90,000.

With an NCAA record 389 consecutive sellouts that dates back to 1962, Husker fans have filled Memorial Stadium consistently and are referred to as “The Greatest Fans in College Football.”

Nebraska has a storied history on the field, having won five national championships with three Heisman Trophy winners. To commemorate those accomplishments, there is the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex on the north end of the stadium where Nebraska’s national championship trophies and Heisman Trophies are on display along with other Husker trophies and memorabilia. It’s a must-see to any first-time visitors to Memorial Stadium.

Around the stadium are a number of monuments that commemorate the history and traditions of Nebraska football.

First, there’s the Husker Legacy Statue is located on the East side of the stadium. It was erected in 1997 to honor Nebraska’s four national championship teams at that time (1970, 1971, 1994 and 1995). It’s a statue of six Huskers tackling a Kansas State player that was made after a photo taken during a 1995 game against the Wildcats. Instead of focusing on just one player or coach, the statue is dedicated to all players who have played at Nebraska and displays the sense of pride Nebraskans have in their football team.

Wyoming v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Right in front of the Osborne Athletic Complex stands the Osborne Berringer Statue. Erected in 2006, the statue depicts legendary head coach Tom Osborne coaching Brook Berringer during a game. Showing his humility, Osborne didn’t want a statue of himself alone and decided he wanted to be shown with Berriner, a former backup quarterback for the Huskers. A fan favorite, Berringer stepped in for a sidelined Tommie Frazier in 1994 and went 7-0 as a starter. Frazier returned later in the season and helped guide Nebraska to its third national title. In one of the most heartbreaking moments in Husker history, Berringer was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1996.

Brook and tom Photo by Aaron Musfeldt

Another on the east side of the stadium is a statue of former coach and Athletic Director at Nebraska Bob Devaney. The legendary coach won Nebraska’s first two national championships in 1970 and 1971.

Gallery Photo: Huskers Unveil Statue Honoring Bob Devaney Photo by David Mcgee

Lastly is the Devaney Osborne Plaque on the Southwest side of the stadium. The plaque has the date Dec. 2, 1983 etched into it – the date of the banquet held to honor coaches Bob Devaney and Osborne for each eclipsing 100 career wins. At that time, Osborne had reached 108 wins while Devaney’s career record was 101-20-2. Osborne went on to coach through the 1997 season, putting together a career record of 255-49-3.

What’s it Like to Tailgate at Nebraska?

With several parking lots around campus that all allow tailgating, there are plenty of spots to post up before and after the game. As a warning, Nebraska is technically a dry campus, so drinking alcohol in parking lots is technically not allowed.

There are a number of areas that host tailgate parties around Memorial Stadium. Most popular would probably be the “Do the Dock” party at the nearby Embassy Suites Bar and Grill where there is live music and the game is shown on an enormous TV.

There is also the Railyard and the Pinnacle Bank Arena just southwest of the stadium with big tailgate parties. An open air business district with a big pavilion and huge projection screen to watch the game, the Railyard hosts several bars and restaurants, making it an area everyone needs to visit on Husker game days.

Another tailgating mecca in Lincoln would be Barry’s Bar and Grill where there’s a rooftop patio for Husker fans to enjoy themselves.

Traditions and What to Expect

As you might expect, Nebraska has a whole host of gameday traditions.

An hour before kickoff, the Husker Marching Band holds an open rehearsal that starts at the University Library before heading to Memorial Stadium.

One of Nebraska’s most iconic traditions would be the Tunnel Walk, but before that are the Husker Power chants where one side of the stadium chants “Husker!” and the other side then chants “Power!” That leads into a pump-up video on the big board that then leads into the Husker team walking down the tunnel and emerging onto the field through the North Tunnel to the song “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project.

Another tradition that has helped coin the Nebraska fanbase as “The Greatest Fans in College Football” is their tradition of standing and applauding the visiting team after the game – win or lose. It’s a tradition that’s long been revered and marveled at by opposing players and coaches alike.

Whether you’re a Husker fan or a fan of the visiting team, a gameday in Lincoln is something every college football fan should experience.