The only time I’ve lived east of North Platte was during college and as such most of my memories of Husker football begin either in front of a television or in car. I suppose it is fitting then that the first article I write for a Husker game is written in the passenger seat as I travel from my home in the panhandle with two friends to the opening game of the 2015 football season. We won’t make the full journey tonight, but will complete the last leg tomorrow morning before the game.
As many can probably imagine; in a state as sparsely populated as Nebraska, the can often feel a little long. At night distant farm house lights dot the north and south while a steady stream of white and red passes by me. Passing through an occasional town mostly indistinct to one another for most, are unmistakable for those that have made this journey to Lincoln so many times.
Sidney the home of Cabela’s is expanding beyond what I remember, but each time I pass by, I cannot stop myself from looking at the imposing store north of I-80.
Ogallala, one of my high schools rivals. A class B school in my time, and always a game we circled during basketball season.
Sutherland, home of the Sailors. The school that denied ever hosting a high school invitational golf tournament. An impressive feat considering that the traveling trophy, a large anchor, was sitting in our living room at the time.
North Platte, the equivalent of the big city in a vast sea of small farming towns. Known to many as the hometown of Danny Woodhead, known to many from my home and others as the home of hated rival North Platte St. Pats.
And on to Lexington, and Gothenburg, and Kearney, and Grand Island, and York, and over the last hill into Lincoln.
Those who’ve never driven down I-80 eastbound into Lincoln won’t know this and many who have may not appreciate it, but as you get closer to Lincoln the hills grow tall shrinking your view of the world to a small swale of the Earth until you hit the crest of the next. And as I pass over them each time my eyes strain in front of me. I know that we’ll hit that hill. We’ll crest over it into the morning sun and I’ll see the state capitol, standing against the sky. And I will have arrived back in Lincoln, and it will be football season once again.