It was a dark and stormy night the Buckeyes came to town facing the student section. The day that teased to let the heavens pour down held off all night. The whole time during game, I was thinking of the classic comedy movie scene where the character has just experienced a series of unfortunate events and states “at least it is not raining” then immediately proceeds to downpour. I was also surprised to hear how many students were hopeful that we would win. Clemson had just been upset by Syracuse, Washington State had just dropped the soap against Cal, and it was a night game at home. There was definitely a strong but reserved hope that Nebraska could make it a game. Even I began to think we could keep it close that is until I watched Ohio state warm up. The athletes were physically more dominant than ours, and it showed.
The attitude was not nearly as hostile as it was when Wisconsin came into town the week prior, still the students were ready to fight for the team as long as the team would fight for themselves. This was reflected in the turnout, which was great. People came during a pretty lousy day of wet, cold, and overcast. Generally, attendance in the student section follows the same equation for political elections. Bad weather = bad turnout. What also does not help is the fact that we were such underdogs. Maybe the illusion that we had a chance is what made the attendance so high. That or the fact tickets with a face value of 135$ were going for 20$.
My favorite thing the student section does pregame is play catch from the stands to the field. How else are you supposed to pass the three hours of time you came to the stands early?
The costume situation improved significantly. The second appearance of John Snow coupled with the return of Mermaid Man made for some great pictures. We also had some people sporting football helmets, and a corncob costume guy that I could not find to get a picture of. Sorry dude, sit up front next time. Speaking sitting up front, more people need to do that. If you are going to go all out and wear a costume then sit up front. There is no point in sitting in the middle of the section where no one can see all of your hard work you put into the design. The twenty seconds of fame when being shown on the big screen is worth it.
The game started and then continued about as expected. The only surprising thing was the students were still having a good time. No one was bent out of shape like I was against Wisconsin. Apathy then set in as soon as they scored the second time. The long methodical drives against our defense early made clear the game was going to be a blowout. The final indicator came when the offense got a first down, and everyone broke out in applause. Balloons are usually let go for the first score, but achieving a first down felt like an equivalent feat. Since the game was not going to provide the party, we had to make our own fun. We started betting on what side of the end zone we were going to get scored on next, or throwing over sized penalty flags around like a beach ball at a music festival whenever a penalty was called. Literally finding anything to cheer for, even penalties became exciting.
Personally, I zoned out and stopped watching the on field play and talked to the people around me about our plans after the game. I simply could not watch our linebackers run as hard as they could into the wrong gap any longer. It was a repeat of Wisconsin with the run game, no one knew where they should go.
Halftime struck giving everyone an excuse to get up out of the cold wind and go warm up. A few remained strong through the third quarter, fewer the whole game. I know there is supposed to be an amount of shame associated with leaving early, but there was no reason for staying. I would question the motive for staying much more than for leaving.
I watched the entire fourth quarter from downtown after leaving early. Ohio State did not do anything special. They are a good team who came to Lincoln and executed what they practiced all week. Two weeks in a row now the student section has been rallying behind false hope. The sad part is the current students have grown up with Nebraska football in limbo every year. No current traditional student has known anything other than mediocrity, including myself. Students will not grow up to be donors if the program does not inspire confidence.
The student section will be back against Northwestern, but we will have three weeks between that and now. I am looking for some suggestions for questions to ask students around campus. I received some last week, but I would like to know what you want to know from our current students. As always, it can be serious or not even close to it. I look forward to being back at Memorial Stadium as a student the last couple times ever. GBR