LINCOLN — Bo Pelini fought back tears. Tom Osborne did, too.
When Pelini raised Osborne's hand and the two led Nebraska onto the field, it was a moment that will be hard to forget by those at Memorial Stadium.
Saturday was the last home game for Osborne, Nebraska's exiting athletic director and former legendary coach.
A pregame ceremony included clips of Osborne's past during the Tunnel Walk. The crescendo built to a view of Osborne and Pelini walking side by side out of the locker room area and through the tunnel, a sight that drew heavy applause.
After Pelini and Osborne embraced, they turned to ask the team if it was ready and then headed out onto the field together — the past, present and future of Husker football.
Even fans in Minnesota gear had cellphone cameras out recording the scene.
Throughout the first half, taped messages from Grant Wistrom, Johnny Rodgers, Tommie Frazier, Scott Frost, Larry the Cable Guy and Warren Buffett played during breaks. There was another later from the cast of ESPN's “College GameDay.”
At halftime, there was another tribute with a video montage that included messages from Jim Delany, Clarence Thomas, Dave Rimington, Barry Switzer, Barry Alvarez and Bill Snyder.
Osborne, wearing a red sport coat, was joined by his family on the field. After a taped message thanking fans for their support, he exited to one last round of applause.
Fans pull off big card trick
The thanks toward Osborne really got started with a message on cards by fans in east stadium.
Cards with red on one side and white on the other were in every seat on that side of the stadium.
Instructions told fans when to hold up each color.
With about eight minutes to go before kickoff, the cards were raised to reveal the words “Thanks Tom,” written out in white.
Shortly after, they were flipped to spell out “Go Big Red,” in red.
Now for Prince's side of the story
Former Husker cornerback Prince Amukamara was roaming around the Nebraska sidelines before and during the game.
|BIG RED TODAY ON FACEBOOK|
|Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.|
The former first-round pick of the New York Giants was in Lincoln this week as his team had a few days off for a bye.
Amukamara said he came to town Monday and would be taking off Sunday, but had to get to his first Nebraska game since leaving two years ago.
“It's pretty crazy,” he said about the atmosphere outside the stadium on game days.
Sporting a black Adidas sweatshirt, Amukamara said he was enjoying his time back in Lincoln. Life as a professional is a bit different, he says. Both physically and mentally.
“And financially,” he added with a smile.
As for the matchup that former Husker teammate Niles Paul (now with the Washington Redskins) discussed last week when he was in Lincoln during his team's bye, Amukamara shed a little light on why he didn't talk more trash to Paul.
“I wasn't supposed to be on him,” Amukamara said. “I was supposed to be on the receiver. And Niles used to be a receiver. But now he's a tight end, so I was actually on the wrong guy.”
It all worked out in the end as Amukamara got a pass breakup and the Giants ended up winning the game.
As for following his former team, Amukamara said he keeps up with the Huskers as much as possible. He even won a little wager against teammate Stevie Brown, who went to Michigan.
“I won $50 bucks that day,” Amukamara said.
Big-time prospects make official visits
Official visitors were low in number but high in quality.
Standout defensive lineman Toby Johnson and junior college teammate Ben Bradley were in attendance. The Hutchinson Community College duo are both highly regarded. Johnson, on crutches because of a torn ACL, is still a top prospect. Bradley is a Tennessee commit.
Also on an official visit was Kyle Peko, another big defensive lineman. Boise State, Michigan State, Utah and Washington are all in the mix with Nebraska for Peko's services.
Tre'vell Dixon, a one-time Nebraska commit who still has the Huskers on his list, made it for his first official visit, too. Dixon has offers from Arizona State, Lousianna-Lafayette, Texas A&M and TCU.
Kick or punt... OK, it's a punt
A strange anticipation swept through the crowd during the second quarter.
As Nebraska sent senior kicker Brett Maher out to line up for a 62-yard field goal, fans in the stands rose and took notice.
It was almost as if the commotion changed the mind of Pelini, who called a timeout and sent Maher out to punt after the stoppage.
Maher's career long is 54 yards, which came in a road game against UCLA earlier this season. The school-record length is 57 yards by Alex Henery three years ago in the regular-season finale against Colorado.
The ensuing punt by Maher went into the end zone for a touchback.
Smile, Taylor, you're on camera
Those who stuck around for the fourth quarter got a glimpse of a smiling Taylor Martinez.
As a Martinez feat was announced to the crowd, the camera found Martinez standing on the sidelines with his helmet off.
He was quickly joined in the shot by backup quarterback Ron Kellogg III, who had just led a drive by the NU offense. Kellogg threw his arm around Martinez and the two waved to the crowd with big smiles.
They then began blowing kisses to the crowd, drawing a huge applause from the remaining fans.
* * *
>> Video: Jon Nyatawa's postgame analysis:
>> Video: NU coach Bo Pelini after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: NU's Taylor Martinez after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: NU senior P.J. Smith after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: NU's Kenny Bell after the Minnesota game:
>> Video: Tom Osborne leads NU onto the field:
>> Video: The Husker seniors are honored:
>> Video: A tribute to Tom Osborne:
>> Video: Nebraska-Minnesota game highlights: