Published Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:03 am
FOOTBALL
From the sidelines: Wind chills fans, rattles uprights

IOWA CITY — It's hard to say what Nebraska fans will remember more about Friday's win over Iowa — the fact that the Huskers clinched their first Big Ten Legends Division championship or the fierce winds that never let up.

From the time workers began to show up until the sun set more than three hours after the game, those north/northwest winds howled between 20 and 35 mph. The temperature prior to kickoff was 26 degrees and got to only 33 during the game.

Not only were the flags attached to the top of each upright swirling throughout the game, but the goal posts also at times were shaking.

Kinnick Stadium officials elected not to try to raise the nets behind the goal posts for point-after and field-goal kicks for fear they might rip or blow back too far. The public address announcer had to warn people in the north and south stadiums to pay attention and be ready for flying footballs.

Empty feeling in upper end zone

There were several large swaths of empty seats in the south end zone facing the wind.

The announced attendance at Kinnick Stadium was 69,805. It was the first time this season that the Hawkeyes didn't sell out their 70,585-seat stadium.

Close quarters for fans, players

Just like at Michigan State on Nov. 3, fans had a chance to get more familiar with players and coaches on the sidelines because there wasn't much space between them.

For example, one Nebraska fan congratulated kicker Brett Maher after his 61-yard punt early in the second quarter flipped the field, and Maher sheepishly replied, “Thanks.” Quarters were so compact that Maher had to take his practice punts and kicks into a net just outside of the sideline area.

Rex at home with linemen

Rex Burkhead never was able to get rid of the grin after scoring Nebraska's only touchdown of the game.

The senior from Plano, Texas, was receiving hugs from his offensive linemen several plays into the next Iowa series. Burkhead hung out with that group between every series in the second half, the same place he spent much of his time the past several games in street clothes while he rested his injured knee.

It's a long way up there

It's a long trip from the locker rooms to the top level of the press box, especially when one is trying to get from A to B just minutes before kickoff.

That was the reason fans saw Tim Beck, Barney Cotton and other Nebraska assistant coaches being escorted from the locker room to the elevators across the field in a golf cart.

A coach moment and a dad moment

Friday was Senior Day for 19 Iowa players. The loudest cheers were for quarterback James Vandenberg, but the most sentimental moment — and longest hug from a dad — went to one of the Hawkeyes' offensive linemen.

Starting center James Ferentz received a few extra pats on the back from his father, Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeyes' head coach. After posing for pictures with his father and mother, Mary, James Ferentz shared a few extra moments with his dad before Kirk headed to the sideline and put on his headset for the start of the game.

Boo-birds out for Huskers

Though Vandenberg got a warm reception from the Kinnick Stadium crowd, a later part of the pregame activities got an even louder response from the bundled-up patrons.

From the moment Nebraska appeared at the front of the tunnel through the time they all made it onto the field, the crowd greeted the Huskers with the loudest chorus of boos they've received all season.

Hey, his voice is known to carry

the crowd wasn't much of a factor at times late in the game. And on one occasion the relative quiet helped the Huskers communicate on a punt.

Jamal Turner was back to field the punt and was around the 10-yard line and positioned to field the kick until he heard a shout from the Nebraska sideline: “Let it go!”

Turner paid attention to that command and the ball went through the end zone for a touchback. That voice Turner heard? Head coach Bo Pelini's.

— Steve Beideck

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

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