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Autzen Stadium

Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, home of the Ducks, should expect a horde of Nebraska fans for the Sept. 9 game.

In the wake of some rough injury news, Nebraska football fans probably could use a dose of positive energy.

Steve Glenn perhaps has what you need.

The chief executive officer of Lincoln-based Executive Travel is well-connected to the Husker fan base. Has been for years. A former NU offensive lineman — he lettered in 1977-78 — he heads an international agency that specializes in corporate travel.

But he has a good feel for the pulse of Husker Nation, and he expects it to show up in force Sept. 9 at Oregon for Big Red's marquee nonconference game.

"I think there will be 20,000 Husker fans, at least," Glenn told me last week, basing his expectation in part on the relative ease with which he was able to purchase 104 Oregon season tickets for Executive Travel's 250-plus-person tour to Eugene, Oregon.

A red-clad crowd of 20,000 in Eugene? Really? That seems optimistic. Such a turnout would be reminiscent of Sept. 9, 2000, when Nebraska fans filled about a third of the 80,232 seats in Notre Dame Stadium.

Autzen Stadium holds only about 54,000. So, even if "only" 13,500 Husker fans make their way into Autzen — a much safer bet — that would be one-fourth of the crowd for the 3:30 p.m contest.

That would be awfully impressive in itself considering Nebraska dropped four of its last six games in 2016. To be sure, Husker fan expectations for the 2017 season weren't exactly raging out of control even before Saturday's news that standout senior cornerback Chris Jones recently underwent a meniscus repair on his left knee and could be sidelined for as many as six months.

So, really, a red-clad swarm of 20,000?

I'll believe it when I see it.

But I must admit, Glenn can be convincing.

After he purchased the 104 Oregon season tickets (for $400-plus apiece), he still needed to get tickets for 150 more folks. It helped matters that school isn't in session at Oregon in early September, and that the Ducks were 4-8 last season. So, long story short, Glenn was able to buy the 150, but the price ended up being steeper than he anticipated.

"It started off being $75 (for a single-game ticket), but ended up being $160," he said. "What happened is these guys (at Oregon) found out that demand from Nebraska fans for that game is really strong."

Strong enough that Glenn had to buy a portion of his tickets in the form of a three-game mini-pass. In other words, if you still want a single-game ticket for Sept. 9, forget it. You have to purchase the mini-pass — with the price depending on which other two games you select and where you want to sit.

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"They're trying to get rid of their slow-dog tickets with Nebraska tickets," Glenn said.

Say you wanted to buy a mini-pass for Oregon home games against Nebraska, Washington State and California. An Oregon ticket official on Friday quoted a price of $270 for "good seats."

Even the availability of the mini-passes is "definitely limited," according to the Oregon official, who requested anonymity.

"It's been exciting," the official said of Nebraska-Oregon interest. "It is our most limited game at this point. As far as what some people might consider good seats, those are pretty few and far between right now."

As for the 3,000 tickets that were allotted to Nebraska by Oregon, an NU official said they're long gone. In fact, the official said demand was "exceptionally high — more than double the allotment." 

Glenn requested 100 tickets out of that allotment — and received eight.

He emphasizes that from a Nebraska fan standpoint, Oregon represents the most attractive road trip on the 2017 schedule, easily topping games at Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and even Penn State.

If someone tells you Happy Valley is beautiful in mid-November, my advice would be to get a second opinion.

Plus, let's face it, the Ducks seem more beatable right now than the Nittany Lions.

"The nice thing is, it won't be too hostile (in Autzen Stadium) with as much red that is going to be there," Glenn said.

A tame Autzen? We'll see about that.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to imagine the reaction of the Oregon ticket official who fielded Glenn's initial call in January as he was putting together this agency's $2,000-per-head trip.

"I said, 'I'll take all your season tickets. What do ya got?''' Glenn said. "The guy pauses and goes, 'What?'"

"They really don't understand what's going to hit them."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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