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Huskers, local Sports Editor experience 'firsts' together

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LINCOLN - Saturday's University of Nebraska football game was a game of firsts.

Scott Frost finally notched his first strike into the win column as Husker head coach on Saturday afternoon. It was also this writer’s first time experiencing a Husker game live at Memorial Stadium.

Ever since arriving here in late 2015, I've been told by native Nebraskans that attending a game in Memorial Stadium is a definite must-do.

I first arrived on a football Saturday and listened to Nebraska play Purdue on the radio as I crossed the Missouri River into the Cornhusker State for the first time.

That game did not go well and I will write about it no more.

Instead, let’s talk about an amazingly strong win for a Husker team that has caught bad break after bad break this season on the way to a 0-6 start.

First, it was the electrifying moment of Scott Frost’s first tunnel walk against Akron — a game that ultimately was canceled and left much of Nebraska on pins and needles for an entire week.

The skid started next as euphoric victory in a rivalry game with Colorado turned into devastating defeat thanks to early turnovers and key mistakes.

Next came a disheartening Troy game where again turnovers — and a punt return for a touchdown — somehow gave the Huskers another Memorial Stadium loss.

Then, Big 10 play started and three quick losses at Michigan, versus Purdue, and at Wisconsin put Nebraska at 0-5. The winless start matched the worst start to a season in program history, but the Huskers had started getting it together. 

“Frost is getting these boys to come around,” could be heard whispering in the wind from the Sandhills to the Iowa border.

Then, Northwestern happened.

The Huskers looked solid and had a solid lead, but somehow the Wildcats tie the game up and forced overtime.

A couple of bad breaks and Nebraska had another loss and a 0-6 record for the first time in the 129-year history of the program.

Despite all the setbacks, the Husker faithful once again packed Memorial Stadium with a sellout crowd on Saturday, extending a streak that started in 1962 and has continued for 365 consecutive games. 

And with that a new football year seemed to start. The Huskers could do no wrong as quickly Nebraska was up 28-0.

This is exactly what the 89,272 fans in the stadium paid to see.

The Huskers were absolutely dominating on both sides of the ball.

Minnesota did put together an eight play, 68-yard touchdown drive before halftime, but Nebraska’s momentum was already rolling.

The stadium was shaking, I could feel it on the field as I tried to keep a steady hand with a camera. Check the videos posted on Twitter from Saturday and anyone would know it was a struggle.

I have to tell you, the energy is unlike anything I had felt before in a football stadium. It was like tons of weight had been taken out of the air. Everyone could breathe a little easier.

But then Minnesota scored two touchdowns to start the third quarter and it became a one-possession game.

Adrian Martinez composure shined through at that moment, as the 18-year-old handled the rest of the game with a poise I have never seen from such a young college quarterback. He went 25-29 for Pete’s sake!

As Stanley Morgan said after the game, “those are NCAA numbers,” referring to the old NCAA video game that was discontinued after the 2014 game was released.

Oh, and he added another 125 yards on the ground for 401 yards of total offense by him alone. The team finished with an astounding 659.

When time expired and Nebraska officially won the game, I was in the midst of other reporters swarming toward Frost to catch a glimpse of his reaction. He received a celebratory Gatorade bath and was smiling from ear to ear as players jumped around celebrating on the field.

In the press conference, he seemed to show a sign of relief that the milestone is in the rearview mirror. As for the Gatorade bath, he says he wants to build the program to a point where the team isn’t celebrating one win.

So, as for my experience? 

Well, it was picturesque. I got to be down on the field for Scott Frost’s first career win. When applying for this press pass in August before the season I never thought of that as an option, but sometimes the story writes itself.

The team has finally tasted victory, and as the team looks to play a makeup game next week to replace the canceled Week One Akron game, it looks like the start to a whole new season once again.

I can’t wait to go back to Memorial Stadium, but next time I think I will go experience that energy as a fan with the rest of the crowd. 

Yes, Memorial Stadium is quite a place — a place well worth seeing on a Husker Saturday.