Fall camp is less than three weeks away for Nebraska. The Huskers kick off their season preparation on July 27, one month from their season opener against Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland.
In preparation for the trip across the pond, game organizers for the Aer Lingus Football Classic met with the media for a Zoom call on Thursday. Alongside them, two Huskers—linebacker Nick Henrich and running back Rahmir Johnson—discussed the trip to Ireland, preparation for the season ahead and plenty more.
Here are the highlights.
Nebraska has sold nearly 9,000 tickets for the season opener in Ireland on August 27. Game organizers hope Husker fans will reach the 10,000 ticket sale mark by July 11, the deadline to purchase tickets through the Nebraska ticket office. Northwestern, on the other hand, has sold just over 3,000 tickets.
Corporate.ie CEO Padraic O’Kane told Nebraska media on Thursday that he feels confident that Aviva Stadium—which holds 47,500 seats—will be 75 percent full on game day. His optimism comes from the additional local support in Ireland, which—combined with what Nebraska and Northwestern have sold so far—comes in at approximately 30,000 tickets sold today.
How does that compare to the last Aer Lingus Football Classic? It’s been since 2016, when Boston College and Georgia Tech faced off in Ireland. The Yellow Jackets won, 17-14, in front of 40,562 fans. Games were supposed to take place in 2020 and 2021—with Nebraska originally scheduled to kick off its 2021 season in Dublin—but both were canceled due to the COVID pandemic.
Ireland has also hosted college football matchups in 1988, 1989, 1996, 2012 and 2014. Of those, the 2014 matchup between Penn State and Central Florida drew the biggest crowd. The game saw 53,304 fans in attendance at Croke Park.
For Husker fans making the trip to Dublin, there will be a Nebraska Pep Rally on Friday, Aug. 30 at 4:30 p.m. local time. It’s scheduled to take place at the Merrion Square in Dublin City Center. Coaches, as well as the band and cheerleaders, will be in attendance.
As for the team, the Huskers will arrive in Dublin Tuesday morning. During their time in Ireland, they’ll attend team dinners at Taylors Three Rock and EPIC (Irish Immigration Museum), as well as make a visit to Kilmainham Gaol.
“This will be a good experience,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been out of the country so I’m looking forward to seeing the Irish culture. The only thing I know about Irish culture is Conor McGregor, so hopefully I see him out there.”
While the team will do its best to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ireland, the Huskers are also very adamant that this is a business trip.
“It’s a really exciting time right now because we’re only a couple weeks out of camp so you can really feel the excitement building,” Henrich said. “Everyone’s itching to get the pads on and getting ready to go. We know how important this game is to start our season the right way, so I think everyone collectively is viewing this as a business trip.
“And we’re ready to roll.”
With that said, Dublin is six hours ahead of Lincoln and Evanston so there will be a quick adjustment needed for the players. Henrich said Nebraska will get a good start with fall camp starting early. He also feels the team is in really good shape heading into camp, which should benefit them in that preparation.
“I think a big thing will be handling the travel well,” Henrich said. “We’re going to have to sleep and rest, not watch movies and relax. Once we get there, we’re going to have to get adjusted to the time quickly, which I think is another big thing.”
But again, it’s a business trip for Nebraska. Neither Henrich nor Johnson were concerned with the team handling it upon arrival in Dublin.
Set the Stage
Nebraska needs a strong start to its 2022 season. After last year’s season opener—a loss to Illinois, a game that was originally supposed to take place in Dublin—the Huskers would like to get things kicked off a little differently this year.
The Huskers may have defeated Northwester 56-7 in Lincoln last season, but that doesn’t mean much when the two kick off in Dublin 50 days from now.
“There’s definitely pressure, there’s no doubt about it,” Henrich said. “It’s a new season from last year but we’ve still got to remember what those feelings felt like, how much it hurt coming up that short. We’ve been using that as fuel through these workouts.
“We’ve just got to finish summer strong, then have a great camp, then go out there and handle business.”
Game day will include a mix of traditions, both celebrating American and Irish cultures. That includes a pre-game flyover by the Irish Aircore.
The stadium will also sell beer, including Guinness. Budweiser will be available too.
As for tailgating, O’Kane expects fans to tailgate in local bars. There will also be plenty of music in the streets for those making their way toward the stadium.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.