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By Randy York
OK, Nebraska fans, listen up. This is not a done deal, but if you want to do a little advance planning, circle Sept. 7, 2013 on your calendar, and start dropping $5 and $10 bills in your cookie jar, along with a slew of $1 bills and leftover change. That way, whenever Southern Miss announces it will host Nebraska's football team on that Saturday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, you'll get the chance to sit in the same world-class venue that 1) hosted the most recent college football national championship game (Alabama over LSU on Jan. 9); 2) hosted the most recent men's college basketball national championship game (Kentucky over Kansas on April 2); and 3) will host the 2013 Super Bowl on Feb. 3, seven months before Southern Miss is expected to host Nebraska.
Again, nothing's final, but this creative non-conference match-up is so far along that even Jeff Jamrog felt comfortable mentioning it on Huskers Sports Nightly and then again the next day when we asked Nebraska's assistant athletic director for Football Operations to share an update on the negotiations. "Nothing's finalized, but everything's moving in a very positive direction," Jamrog said. "We're close to having all the details worked out, so we can get this thing done. I know Southern Miss wants to host us in New Orleans, and we want to play there, so unless something crops up that we don't expect, we're planning on that being our first road game in 2013."
The Huskers will host Wyoming in their '13 season opener and follow that likely Southern Miss date in New Orleans with three straight home games - against UCLA, South Dakota State and Illinois. "This was Southern Miss's idea," Jamrog pointed out. "They approached us, and it makes a lot of sense all the way around. Their stadium (in Hattiesburg, Miss.) only seats 36,000, and the Superdome seats more than 76,000. This would be a much bigger payday for them, and it would a better return for us as well, even as the visitor."
The Huskers, of course, are a national draw and led by Bo Pelini, who made his mark as the defensive coordinator of LSU's 2007 national championship team. That gave Pelini inroads into recruiting Louisiana at Nebraska, and Jamrog sees this rare non-conference match-up as an ideal opportunity to 1) accommodate Nebraska fans in one of the world's best venues during the regular season; and 2) influence recruiting in key Southern states, including Florida. "We think this is a game that might draw 20,000 Nebraska fans," Jamrog said. "We also think that recruits would see this as an exciting experience to follow and watch. It can help them see how creative college football can be when Nebraska's involved. Everything makes sense to both schools. The only thing that could get in the way is a third-party."
The N-Sider sees a green light coming in this game and recommends the Big Easy as a first-rate road trip that would cater well to Husker fans, who would enjoy New Orleans' world famous cuisine (I'll never forget the 7-course meal at Antoine's with Bob Devaney and Bear Bryant at the head table), its world famous music (the birthplace of jazz) and its world famous festival (Mardi Gras is the standard by which all other street celebrations are measured). Every Sugar Bowl trip we made included a trip to Café Du Monde, New Orleans' original French Market coffee stand with its beignets and chicory coffee. Sorry to sound like a travel writer instead of an N-Sider, but that's all part of the experience ... and why I recommend you start saving your money now to make this road trip.
A Nebraska-Southern Miss ticket in New Orleans would seem much easier to get than one for four Big Ten Husker road games that will follow - at Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan and Penn State, none of which, by the way, has hosted a national championship game or a Super Bowl, making this super-sized game and this Superdome venue one of the best buys of the 2013 Cornhusker football season. Yes, we all have to wait for the official announcement of this game. But whenever that happens, clean out the cookie jar. And start planning on filling that incredible facility with as much red as possible.
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