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MnB B1G Preview: A few things to know about Nebraska football

"What Could Have Been?: An Ode to the Bugeaters" Let's take a look at some things you should know about Nebraska football.


4th Most Wins of Any Division-I FBS Team: 865 wins (including bowl games)

If not for the Yale Bulldogs, the Nebraska Cornhuskers would have the fourth most wins of any college football program, in any division. But since Yale claims over 140 victories from 1872-1892, they currently sit second behind our beloved Michigan Wolverines, unlikely to ever catch up with the Ivy League's shorter football schedule. Since total wins don't paint the whole picture, Nebraska currently owns the seventh best winning percentage (.702) all-time of any college football team. Like Michigan, Nebraska has been a traditionally strong program, and their wins have been spread out since their first season in 1890 as the Nebraska Old Gold Knights. The only downtime for the Cornhuskers spanned 1942 to '61, a period where they only won 72 games. However, they have won 36 conference championships outright throughout history, as well as sharing ten titles. Coupled with five National Championships (including back-to-back undefeated title seasons in 1994 and '95) and 25 bowl victories, the addition of Nebraska from the Big 12 to the Big Ten (which put 12 teams in the Big Ten, go figure) added a program with a rich history of success, and it's only a matter of time before they top the conference.

Something I don't understand: The Tunnel Walk

While digging through Nebraska football traditions, the "Tunnel Walk" kept popping up: "There's no more goosebump-inducing entrance in the Big 12." To me, it sounded like just another pre-game hype ritual. And after watching the video (linked above), my hypothesis was confirmed. The team walks out of their locker room, through a tunnel, slaps a lucky horseshoe, and runs out onto the field to "Sirius" by the Alan Parson's Project (solid song choice). Likely because I'm not a Nebraska fan, this doesn't seem all that special, especially since it's only been a "tradition" since 1994. I'm not trying to knock Nebraska fans getting energized before a game - I'm sure this is near and dear to any Cornhuskers heart - but Nebraska's "Tunnel Walk" has a long way to go before reaching Michigan's "Touch the Banner" status.

Word you're bound to hear during a Nebraska football broadcast: Blackshirts

In the simplest terms, "Blackshirts" refers to Nebraska's defense. The nickname started near the beginning of Bob Devaney's reign as Nebraska's head coach. For those who don't know Bob Devaney, he's the man that resurrected the Cornhuskers from the aforementioned '42 to '61 slump. As for the meaning of the nickname, it's self-explanatory: the defense wore black pullovers during practice. According to Nebraska, there isn't an exact date pinned down as to when Devaney started using the black practice jerseys, but the "most likely time frame is the second week of the 1964 season." The article I linked goes on to explain that the NCAA rules changed following the '63 season to allow "a return to two-platoon football," something Devaney started to take advantage of a couple of weeks into '64. As the story goes, the black pullovers were reserved for first-team defensive players only, the pullovers were handed out before practice, collected afterwards, and therefore, became something players worked strove to earn. Once the media caught wind of the name, it caught on and is now synonymous with Nebraska's defense. While the method of handing out Blackshirts has changed through the years (current head coach Bo Pelini didn't hand out any in 2008 until near the end of the year, stating that "Blackshirts are earned on the field."), the tradition lives on to this day.

Odd Original Nicknames: Old Gold Knights, Antelopes, Rattlesnake Boys and the Bugeaters

There's not much to say other than Bugeaters never had a losing season in the 1890s and would have been awesome ("Named after the insect-devouring bull bats that hovered over the plains."). All of these nicknames were used prior to Cornhuskers being adopted in 1900.

Dual-threat Mascots: Herbie Husker and Lil' Red

Herbie's the original Nebraska mascot, coming to be in the '70s. He's the classic, suave cowboy-type, with some nice mascot muscles and a sparkling smile. Lil' Red, on the other hand, was created in 1993 and carries with him a little bit of that '90s attitude with his backwards ball cap.

Sportsmanship always wins: Applauding the visiting team

Nebraska fans - referred to as the "Sea of Red" - have filled Memorial Stadium to capacity for every game since 1962. Their dedication to the Cornhuskers is obvious, but what stands out is the fact that they applaud the visiting team as that team leaves the field. Now, I can't confirm that they do this in victory and in defeat, or if at the least the majority of fans join in, but regardless, it's a classy gesture that stood out when I was reading about the Nebraska football program. Any Nebraska fan (or Michigan fan who has visited Memorial Stadium) that could comment on this, that'd be great.