DUBLIN –– Nebraska arrived at Aviva Stadium shortly after 3:00 p.m. local time, ahead of Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. kickoff against Northwestern. The Wildcats took the field shortly before 4 p.m.
The Huskers handled the Wildcats in Lincoln last season, winning 56-7 in Lincoln on Oct. 2. It was Nebraska’s last win in a 3-9 season. Northwestern, also 3-9 a year ago, beat Rutgers Oct. 16 for its last win.
Here are a few observations and notes from Hail Varsity’s team in Dublin.
>>Weather conditions during warmups were nearly ideal––66 degrees, 67% humidity and winds of about 8 miles per hour, though the design of Aviva Stadium, which features an overhang over the stands, does a good job of keeping the wind out. The flags atop the uprights weren’t moving at all.
>>A couple of game organizers were overheard saying they expected 45,000 fans for the game. That included the nearly 10,000 tickets sold through Nebraska and 3,000 for Northwestern, and was pretty in-line with estimates throughout the week.
>>Wide receiver Omar Manning was not suited up. He’s Nebraska’s leading returning receiver, making 26 catches for 380 yards with two touchdowns in 2021.
>>Both teams brought more players than the 74 each were allowed to dress for the game. Outside of Manning, there weren’t many surprises among the Huskers who weren’t suiting up. True freshman wide receiver Janiran Bonner, a player coaches spoke about during fall camp, was among that group.
>>Tight end Chris Hickman was on the field for pregame warmups. He had been dinged up in fall camp. Chancellor Brewington was also going through pregame drills.
>>There was some question around right tackle Bryce Benhart’s availability entering Saturday, but he was suited up and on the field.
>>Four quarterbacks will suit up on Saturday: starter Casey Thompson, Chubba Purdy, Logan Smothers and Matt Masker. Based on the centers the QBs were working with, the depth chart looked to be Thompson, Purdy, Smothers and Masker.
>>Not on the depth chart but still seen throwing the ball on the field with players during warmups––Nebraska AD Trev Alberts
>>Northwestern has worn 28 different uniform combinations since 2012, according to its game notes, but never purple helmets with purples jerseys and pants. That was the Wildcats’ look on Saturday, along with a special helmet decal with the Northwestern N in orange, white and green, colors of the Ireland flag
>>Game programs for today’s “match” were going for €10, and being aggressively hawked outside the stadium. Inside the stadium a burger could be had for €9, hot dogs 8, curry chips 6, soft drinks 3 and a bag of crisps/popcorn 2.10. A pint of Guinness cost €6.50, a pint of Budweiser 7.20.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.