The football season is five months away, yet 55,000 Husker fans gathered at Memorial stadium on Saturday, April 9.
While the spring game is essentially a glorified, outdoor scrimmage, it means so much more than that to the Nebraska fans and community. The spring game is an opportunity for Husker fans to visit their favorite stadium in enjoyable weather and to observe what the team has in store for the upcoming football season.
The outcome of the game was White beating Red, 43-39, but the score wasn’t something that mattered to most Husker fans. Kaden Ceballo of Madison, Nebraska, was just excited to be in downtown Lincoln to support his team yet another year.
“The tickets are cheap and the atmosphere in Memorial (stadium) is still electric, even half-full,” Ceballo said.
Ceballo said the two-hour drive from his hometown to the stadium was worth it for the Huskers.
“It’s a tradition that nobody shows out for better than us, and Lincoln is always a very special place to be for football games,” Ceballo said.
The Nebraska spring game attendance count was 54,400 people, which means as of today that Nebraska has the most attended spring game of 2022. Second to the Cornhuskers on the attendance count was the Clemson Tigers with 35,000 in attendance at their spring game on April 9, according to Kevin Ruinard of USA Today Sports.
Drew Polacek, an Omaha native stationed in Texas in the U.S. Army, said he looks forward to the spring game every year.
“I’ve been going to the (spring) game with my dad for my entire life, so I think it means a little bit more to me than most people,” Polacek said. “I never expect less from the fans than to have thousands here to watch it.”
The spring game also represents a unique tradition for the UNL students who are planning to graduate in the spring as it’s the last time they can attend a game as a student.
Sydney Gerace, a senior who is graduating in May, said the day was bittersweet.
“I’m a little sad because this is probably the last time my friends will be together for a game day, and this is something we’ve done together for four years,” Gerace said.
For many UNL students and fans, a Husker game day is an all-day event consisting of tailgating, getting food, going to bars and hanging around in the Haymarket area of Lincoln. The spring game is the last time many of them will be able to have that experience again.
“I’ll definitely come back in the future, but going to the Rail (yard) and then walking to the game with a bunch of my friends isn’t something that’ll never be the same after today,” Gerace said.
But while many people were enjoying their last Husker game experience, others were getting their first Husker game experience.
Jacob Reinhardt, an incoming UNL freshman and Idaho native, got his first taste of Husker football on Saturday.
“The biggest football game I’ve ever been to was my high school, so this was pretty crazy to me,” Reinhardt said. “My friends already told me how big football is in Nebraska, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about.”