“When you walk in here, you see nothing but red. I can’t recall walking into another stadium and seeing such an amazing, monochromatic scene and so much loyalty. When they’re stirred up
when Nebraska is challenged — that’s when this crowd can become one of the most intimidating
in college football.” - Chris Fowler, ESPN
Game days at Nebraska are unlike any in college football. Fans line the streets of Lincoln waiting to enter the “Sea of Red,” while the marching band parades up Stadium Drive as thousands of red-clad fans look on. The “Third-Largest City” in Nebraska on game days, Memorial Stadium has been sold out for every game since 1962—an incredible streak of more than 300 games and counting.
The Huskers emerge from the famous “Tunnel Walk” to the sound of “Sirius” and the fans stay at a frenzied pitch until the final play of the game when they graciously cheer for the opposing players as they exit the field.
For as long as anyone can remember, the Huskers have touched a lucky horseshoe on their way from the locker room to the field. The horseshoe hangs above the door as Nebraska leaves the North Stadium.
Game Day Highlights
Spring Practice 2012
The Tunnel Walk
The Tunnel Walk, which began in 1994, has become an integral part of Memorial Stadium’s game-day experience. It was created as a way for fans to share in the excitement of the team emerging from the locker room, something only a few could do before HuskerVision’s cameras and big screens came to Memorial Stadium. The sounds of the Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius,” and the roar of the 85,000 frenzied fans rock the stadium as the Huskers burst through the locker room doors and into the tunnel on their way to the Memorial Stadium Field Turf.
One of the Huskers’ most well-known traditions is the Blackshirts, which has become the common nickname for Nebraska’s defensive unit. The term originally dates back to the early 1960s and refers to the black jerseys that Nebraska’s first-string defenders wear in practice. The term has become a part of the vocabulary for every Nebraska fan and caught on nationally under Charlie McBride, who served as the Huskers’ defensive coordinator from 1982 to 1999.
The Blackshirts are again at their finest under the direction of Head Coach Bo Pelini, defensive coordinator John Papuchis and the nation’s best defensive coaching staff.
- Nebraska has ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense 22 times since 1964.
- Nebraska has ranked among the nation’s top 10 in all four major defensive categories (rush defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense) on five occasions, including 2009 and national title seasons in 1994, 1995 and 1997.
The Blackshirt defense has thrived under the tutelage of Head Coach Bo Pelini.
Blackshirts Under Pelini
- With Pelini as defensive coordinator in 2003, Nebraska forced a school-record 47 turnovers, including a conference-record 32 interceptions. Nebraska ranked second nationally in scoring defense, and 16 Blackshirts from 2003 went on to play in the National Football League.
- The 2008 Blackshirts were among the nation’s most improved defenses. The Huskers finished second in the Big 12 in total defense, allowing 126.9 fewer yards per game than in 2007.
- Nebraska’s 2009 defense was among the nation’s most dominant units. The Huskers led the nation in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 13 or fewer points 10 times in 14 games. Nebraska also ranked seventh nationally in total defense.
- The 2010 Blackshirts ranked in the top-12 nationally in four statistical categories, including third in pass efficiency defense, ninth in scoring defense and 11th in total defense.
- The 2011 Nebraska defense ranked in the top 40 nationally in total defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense. Linebacker Lavonte David was the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year.
The Nebraska offense has long been one of the nation’s most explosive units, including 15 NCAA rushing titles. Nebraska has also led the nation in total offense three times and scoring offense on four occasions.
The Nebraska offense took on a new look in 2011 under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator Tim Beck. While Beck was new to his role at Nebraska his past history as a coordinator shows that he has what it takes to again make the Cornhusker offense one of the nation’s most explosive attacks.
- Quarterbacks have been prolific in the Nebraska offense in recent years. In 2008, Joe Ganz set Nebraska single-season records for passing yards, completion percentage and total offense. Ganz set 23 Nebraska school records and also ranks second in season touchdown passes, career touchdown passes and career passing yards.
- Five Nebraska quarterbacks have earned All-America honors, most recently 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.
- Taylor Martinez has started 25 of 27 games for Nebraska the past two seasons. As a freshman, Martinez set NU freshman game and season records for total offense, passing yards, rushing and passing touchdowns, while also setting a Husker quarterback record for rushing yards in a game. As a sophomore in 2011, Martinez posted the sixth-highest passing total in NU history and the third-best single season in total offense. He enters 2012 ranked No. 3 at Nebraska in career total offense and sixth in career passing yards.
- Nebraska running backs have always thrived in the Husker offense, and the past few seasons has been no different. Rex Burkhead rushed for 1,357 yards in his junior season in 2011, the most by an NU I-back since 1997. A first-team All-Big Ten pick, Burkhead enters his senior year No. 12 on the NU career rushing list with an opportunity to move as high as second.
- Roy Helu Jr. completed his Nebraska career in 2010 and ranked fourth with 3,404 career rushing yards. He rushed for a school-record 307 yards against Missouri in 2010. In 2011, Helu Jr. was named to the NFL All-Rookie team with the Washington Redskins.
- Nebraska I-backs have 28, 1,000-yard rushing seasons in school history, including one each of the last three seasons. Helu Jr. was the first I-back to post 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since 1992 and 1993, and Burkhead will attempt to duplicate that feat this fall.
- Husker I-backs have also produced five 30-reception seasons since 2004.
- Six Nebraska running backs have earned first-team All-America honors, including 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- Nebraska receivers have posted big numbers in recent years and continued to bring an explosive element to the Husker offense in 2011.
- Nebraska had five receivers average at least 14 yards per reception in 2011.
- Redshirt freshman Kenny Bell had 32 catches, the second-best ever for a Husker freshman.
- Nebraska has had a total of 10, 40-catch seasons since 2005.
- Nate Swift finished his NU career in 2008 as the Huskers’ all-time leader in receptions, while ranking second in season receptions, season receiving yards, career receiving yards, season touchdown receptions and career touchdown receptions.
- Niles Paul completed his career in 2010 ranked sixth on the career receptions list and fifth in receiving yards. He is a member of the Washington Redskins.
- The tight end continues to play an integral part in the NU offense. Mike McNeill completed his career in 2010 and became the Huskers’ career leader for tight end receptions with 82. He is a member of the St. Louis Rams. In 2012, Nebraska boasts one of the nation’s top tight end tandems. Seniors Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed have combined for 65 career receptions and average nearly 15 yards per catch between them.