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‘It Was Love’ at Memorial Stadium for Bethune-Cookman

October 28, 2018

There are many lines in Nebraska's fight songs that allude to what opponents can expect from Memorial Stadium and the fans that fill it.

"The stadium rings as everyone sings," the second line of "Hail Varsity" reads.

"Now it's coming near with a rising cheer that will sweep all foes away," a middle line from "The Cornhusker (Come A Runnin' Boys)" states.

And the most popular? "There is no place like Nebraska," from "Dear Old Nebraska U (There Is No Place Like Nebraska)."

On Saturday, Memorial Stadium and Nebraska's fans were on full display for Bethune-Cookman. Sure, the Wildcats left with a 45-9 loss but that wasn't all they took from the day.

"There’s 90,000 people out there, everyone excited, student section, all the fans. Their fans were cheering us on before the game even started," B-CU senior running back Alfred Adams said post-game. "They were very friendly and honestly, I’m not used to that. Usually other fans are like, ‘Oh, boo. You suck’ but they were very welcoming.”

Adams didn't know what to make of Nebraska fans at first. He was concerned the fans may be mocking him and his teammates. Could they really be cheering for him? Could they really be offering support to an opponent?

“Soon I realized they were just encouraging us and it was love," Adams said. "Because we didn’t have any fans here, so it was love the whole game.”

A Bethune-Cookman support staff member smiled as coach Terry Sims, Adams and senior punter/kicker Uriel Hernandez walked out of the post-game press conference. He shared the same sentiments as Adams, who was still amped up from his last second touchdown run. There was something special about Memorial Stadium.

Bethune-Cookman came to Lincoln following a 35-10 loss to North Carolina A&T. The environment in that matchup was tough. The two are rivals, so there weren't many friendly faces all-around.

Saturday at Memoral Stadium was different. It was a breath of fresh air in some ways. For Sims, the hospitality started from the moment Bethune-Cookman landed in Nebraska.

"I didn’t know what to expect," Sims said. "We actually stayed in Omaha and everyone involved with our program echoed the same thing: it’s probably the nicest group of people you’ll ever be around. Everyone was very welcoming, they didn’t ask us to do anything outside of the norm. It made it very comfortable for us, which we’re thankful for.

"And like I said, I didn’t know what to expect but I know now and I wouldn’t hesitate to come back, not only to play a game but come back and visit. It’s a great place.”

And to think it was a matchup that may have never happened. It took a canceled season opener, open bye weeks and a little finagling. When the phone initially rang in Daytona Beach (you can thank Nebraska tight ends coach Sean Beckton for that), Sims had only one thought.

"No way," he said with a laugh.

After a couple of phone calls, things changed. Sims had a change of heart.

"I couldn’t take this away from my players," Sims said. "This is something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Having an opportunity to come here and play a program such as Nebraska, it’s something that needed to be done."

And for players like Adams, they walked away with a new appreciation for Nebraska, Memorial Stadium and its fans. By the time they ran off the field to the locker room, the cheers were no longer a surprise.

"Every quarter, beginning of pregame, halftime, they’re clapping for us," Adams said. "It’s just a lot of love.”

There is no place like Nebraska.

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