The drive from Los Angeles to Fresno is nearly the exact same distance as driving from North Platte to Lincoln.
It wasn’t until things were put into easily digestible I-80 terms that my friend Brent and I realized that we’d be horrible Husker fans if we didn’t sack up and make the trip to the Grand Island of California and see Nebraska take on Fresno State in a game that could either be a nightmare of a trap or a chance for the Big Red to flex some muscle on the road.
Luckily for Husker Nation, this game turned out to be the latter.
The drive to Fresno featured a few roadside cornfields which helped set the mood for game day- especially when palm trees are cropped out.
We hit the road around 1 on Saturday afternoon and made it with plenty of time to spare. On the recommendation of a friend of Brent’s, we stopped off at BC ‘s Pizza and Beer and were greeted by some surprisingly pleasant, neck tattoo having folk who whispered Huskies in a slightly menacing way whenever walked by their table to battle the Find-a-Word game that was posted up in the men’s room.
You’re not seeing double. Megadeth can be found twice.
Of course a few Husker fans were at BC’s as well. The wait staff was happy for the business. Apparently Fresno State fans were nowhere to be seen all day long.
And of course, those same Nebraska fans who sat the next table over would end up having tickets right next to us when we got to the stadium. Can’t even make something like that up. But at least we could talk pizza until kickoff.
Unlike the Huskers’ other games in the Golden State so far this century, Bulldog Stadium isn’t quite the hallowed venue as the Rose Bowl or Colosseum but was surprisingly much nicer than San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. Then, again a vacant lot with some lawn chairs and a flat screen at each end zone would give Qualcomm a serious run for its money.
With a capacity of just over 41,000 the small stature of Bulldog Stadium made it easy to see just about everything without even really trying.
Our first stop of the day was crashing the Abdullah family tailgate.
Ameer Abdullah’s family all wore #8 jerseys with their role in the family on the back. They were all some seriously good people and were having a blast. It’s easy to see how Ameer grew up to be such a solid guy.
Then we walked towards the gate just in time to see the Huskers heading to the field.
Tommy Armstrong and Ameer Abdullah ready to go to work.
What’s up Kenny Bell?
At kick off it was hard to tell just how many Nebraska fans made the hike to see the Huskers in Fresno thanks to both sides wearing red. Based sheer volume though, it was clear Husker fans were out in force. The Husker Power chant was never in danger of getting shouted down.
The Huskers take the field to start the game.
As a whole, Fresno State fans were decent hosts. It helped that the collective wind was taken out of their sails less than two minutes into the game. About the only thing to complain about was their overall lack of imagination. On the way into the stadium, the best heckle a group of Bulldog fans could muster was calling anyone wearing Huskers gear ‘Cornfed.’
The guy you see below- his signature move was repeatedly thanking the hundreds of Husker fans surrounding him and his lady for wearing red- because that meant all the Nebraska fans were really rooting for Fresno.
This photo was taken at the exact moment Fresno State still had a glimmer of hope.
With the game all but decided in the first quarter, the evening turned into a sweltering party for fans of the real Big Red- especially when Fresno State loyalists decided to go home at halftime. Even if it was just for one night, this was a glorious return to the ass-kicking Nebraska teams from the days of yore.
The highlight of the game for this guy was making a new best friend. My little buddy is in 4th grade and knows more about football than 99% percent of the people out there. Seriously, this kid needs his own show.
Among the highlights of his observations-
On Tommy Armstrong-
“I like to call Tommy Armstrong Tommy Legstrong because he’s such a good runner.”
On David Santos’ rather curious decision to bat a punted ball out of the end zone resulting in a safety for Fresno State-
“David Santos is crazy. I bet he drank a 12 pack of Mountain Dew before the game.”
On Fresno State’s kicker shanking a field goal attempt-
“The Fresno State kicker plays golf with his feet.”
On Randy Gregory being Randy Gregory-
“Randy Gregory sleeps in a cage because he’s so dangerous. They only feed him bread. If he had protein he’d be unstoppable.”
His answer to a multiple choice Fresno State themed question that was flashed on the Bulldog Stadium “JumboTron”-
“Bo Pelini’s Cat!!!”
This photo was taken long after Fresno State abandoned all hope. Kudos to this dude and his lady for sticking it out until the bitter end.
When the beat down finally ended and post game handshakes were exchanged, Kenny and Ameer each took the long jog over to the Nebraska end of the field to salute the fans who stuck it out until the final whistle- a move that was all class.
Ameer’s salute from our seats.
Rolling deep with the Abdullah family out of Bulldog Stadium.
If only we could have bummed a ride home in this bad boy. Getting back home at 4am is for the birds.