Nebraska football may not be totally back yet, but for at least one week the Huskers are back in the national spotlight.
ESPN’s College Gameday is comin’ to the cit-aaaaay of Lincoln for the first time since 2007 for Saturday’s game against Ohio State.
That may seem bizarre to Buckeye fans, who are used to seeing the set on their home campus more or less every year. But to Cornhusker fans, this week is a big, big deal.
“Regardless of how this game goes this is a special time for Nebraska,” said Huskers head coach Scott Frost on Monday. “There are some big things coming this week. GameDay hasn’t been here in 10 or 12 years. This is a good opportunity to highlight our program, the direction the program is going, the improvement we have made, the path that we are on. It’s going to be great to get national attention here in Lincoln.”
Frost has done a nice job digging out from the hole the program was in at the end of the Mike Riley era.
The Buckeyes’ last visit came in Riley’s final season of 2017. OSU jumped out to a 42-0 lead early in the third quarter and cruised to a 56-14 win.
At one point in the first half, things looked so hopeless for the Huskers that fans, who traditionally release red balloons after Nebraska’s first touchdown, let them go the first time the team got a first down.
This year’s Cornhuskers have come a long way from the days of sarcastic balloon releases. But the hoopla that accompanies a week in the national spotlight can be an issue for teams not accustomed to it.
Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback during the program’s glory days in the late 1990s, said based on his experience back then, it shouldn’t be an issue.
“I’m not that worried about the distraction of that as a player. I never even noticed anything. It was practice and the games,” Frost said. “A lot of this stuff is for the fans. People eat it up. The audience at GameDay is big for a reason because those guys are the best at what they do. But as a player, our guys certainly won’t be on set with Herbie and those guys. They are going to be getting ready for a game. I don’t think it will distract our guys or their guys too much.”
Frost said he wasn’t yet sure if he’d be asked to join the show on Saturday morning. He’s more worried right now about keeping the Huskers’ focus on the game.
“Anytime there is a spotlight on your campus, your university, your town, I think it’s a good thing. If you let it be a distraction it can be,” he said. “It’s not going to distract us. We’ve got a really good team coming in here and we need to be at our best to have a chance to beat them.”