A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

Rutgers vs. Nebraska, 9/23/17

Siblings Jayden Rold (left), 13 and Riley Menard, 10, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, grapple for a pass on the practice turf at Hawks Championship Center on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, before the Nebraska-Rutgers game.


The banner hung high in the east stands of Memorial Stadium, above and to the left of the midfield sign that marks Nebraska's five national championships.

On a day only slightly hotter than the seat upon which Mike Riley sits, after a week that saw the school fire its athletic director and, at one point, the football team's fans boo their starting quarterback, the white sheet with black letters fluttered in the strong south breeze:


It was appropriate on many levels on a nervous day on Stadium Drive. 

The temperature at kickoff was just shy of 91 degrees — 90.7, according to the graphic in the southeast corner of the end zone — and the stands were full for a game against Big Ten bottom-feeder Rutgers.

Indeed, the Sea of Red showed up, and for the most part lived up to the lyrics of "Dear Old Nebraska U."

The enthusiasm at kickoff was dampened only slightly when the ball blew off the tee before Drew Brown could put a foot into it. On Rutgers' first offensive possession, the roar was as good as any big game NU will play this season.

Maybe because it was a big game.

The heat eventually took its toll. By the time halftime ended, the top of the student section had begun to thin out. Same with a few spots in the north end zone and in the east stands, where the sun pounded down all afternoon.

By the time Tanner Lee threw his second interception, returned by Kiy Hester for a touchdown to put Rutgers up 17-14, the banner was gone.

Wade, Union praise Lincoln: Omaha native and actress Gabrielle Union and her Chicago Bulls guard-husband Dwyane Wade found their way to the sideline early in the second quarter Saturday.

The couple was recognized on the field, with both throwing the bones to the approval of the crowd.

"I'm from Nebraska, I grew up in the Bay, and there's always a sea of red — the fan base just travels," Union said in a BTN interview. "It's amazing how strong the fan base is, and I got him in."

Wade was quick to praise NU's crowd.

"I've played in front of big crowds, but nothing like this. This is incredible," the 15-year veteran said. "I did marry into the (Husker) family, but I'm happy to be in. Every time you come here and you stand on this field and see the sea of red, it's special."

Wade also spent time with the Husker basketball programs, working out with the men's team earlier in the day. 

NU freshman Thorir Thorbjarnarson posted a photo on Instagram and Twitter of he and Wade, and NU women's coach Amy Williams shared a photo of her daughter and a smiling Wade posing together.

Wade later tweeted the hashtag #GBR after the Husker Twitter account posted a photo of he and Union.

Halftime proposal: Speaking of power couples, Nebraska's newest duo stole the show at halftime.

Grand Island natives Shayne Arriola and Laura Springer, both seniors, were crowned homecoming king and queen after winning an online vote of the student body.

After being recognized on the field, Arriola and Springer made their way to the sideline, where Arriola got down on one knee and proposed as the scene played out on the video screens around Memorial Stadium.

Springer said yes. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Load comments