Game days in Nebraska are an experience unlike any other, but they wouldn’t be the same without these popular game day traditions
The Husker defense has been known as the Blackshirts since the days of legendary coach Bob Devaney. Legend has it that, during a particularly difficult practice, Devaney sent one of his assistants to the local sporting goods store to buy a few gray pullover jerseys for his defensive players. He wanted to differentiate them from the offensive players. The assistant came back with black pullovers instead because they were on sale.
Since then, Husker coaches award black practice jerseys to the starting defenders as a motivational tool. The tradition has taken on a bit of a black flag, pirate mentality, among fans. After a sack, interception, fumble-forced or any other important defensive play, fans and players alike will "throw the bones" – raising their arms above their heads and crossing their forearms to form an "x" – in celebration.
The Cornhusker Marching Band’s pre-game spectacular is one of many traditions that helps create the irreplaceable energy that exists in Memorial Stadium on Husker game day. "The Pride of All Nebraska," the band begins practice five and a half hours before every Husker home game.
Once band members enter through all four corners of Memorial Stadium to begin the Marching Red experience, fans know that it’s time to get ready for the game to start. During the spectacular, the band plays songs such as, "Dear Old Nebraska U," "University of Nebraska March," "Mr. Touchdown," "March of the Cornhusker" and others. The band’s themed halftime performances are worth holding off your trip to the bathroom just a few minutes longer.
Influenced by the famed Green Bay Packer Cheesehead, the Cornhead is a staple of Husker football attire. Wearing a large, plastic ear of corn as a hat may not suit all fans, but nevertheless, a few hundred people show up to each game with produce strapped to their noggins. It may look ridiculous, but when has that stopped crazed sports fans from doing anything?
One of the biggest Husker traditions takes place before the team even steps on the field.
Introduced in 1994, the tunnel walk begins with the football players leaving the locker room and gathering on the red carpet. Fans line the red carpet and pump up the team as they near the gates to the field, and a video shows the players running out of the locker room and down the tunnel to the field. Screams fill the stadium as the team gathers around its coach and prepare to storm the field. "Sirius" by the Alan Parsons Project serves as background music for this tradition.
Before the team storms the field, however, each player jumps and touches a lucky horseshoe. Stories say the horseshoe was found in the dirt at the location where the stadium was to be built in 1923. Fans are able to take pictures with the lucky horseshoe before and after Husker games.
Sea of Red
If you’re headed to a Husker game, one thing’s for certain; the stadium will be engulfed in a sea of red. You may have heard of or seen the sea of red on TV, but there’s nothing like being a part of it.
Wearing red to a game is the easiest way to show your Husker spirit and you can count on almost 90,000 other Husker fans to be doing the same. If you’re worried your outfit is lacking, Husker apparel can be found both inside and outside the stadium, including in the Nebraska Union’s University Bookstore and game-day tents around campus.
Husker fans are some of the most passionate fans in college football, and the Huskers’ consecutive home game sellout streak is a perfect example of why the title holds true. The home game sellout streak began at a homecoming game almost 52 years ago. At the time, the stadium only held 36,501 fans, but the streak continued as the stadium grew. Today, Memorial Stadium holds 87,000, but game attendance easily reaches 90,000.