LINCOLN — The 2013 Nebraska-Southern Mississippi football game could land much closer to home than Husker fans originally expected.
NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne confirmed Tuesday that the Golden Eagles — who had considered hosting the game in New Orleans — will look at staging the game at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.
Osborne said he spoke to an official from the Kansas City Chiefs, the anchor tenant at Arrowhead, on Monday to explore hosting the game currently scheduled for Sept. 7, 2013.
“I think they’re very interested,” Osborne said of the Chiefs. Negotiations and decisions will play out “over the next three weeks.” Moving the game to Kansas City is “not a done deal,” Osborne said.
Calls to Southern Mississippi Athletic Director Jeff Hammond were not returned. Because it’s the Golden Eagles’ home game, there remains a chance Nebraska could simply play in Hattiesburg, where NU beat USM 38-14 in 2003.
Months ago, the game appeared headed for New Orleans’ Superdome.
“Apparently there’s something in the negotiations with New Orleans that gave them pause,” Osborne said.
Nebraska’s limited history with Arrowhead has been mixed on the field, but indisputably good at the gate.
In 1998, the Huskers beat Oklahoma State 24-17 while 79,555 fans watched a game moved from Stillwater. NU lost the 2006 Big 12 championship game to Oklahoma in Kansas City in front of 80,031 fans.
Osborne said he sees “a lot of advantages” for the game to be in Kansas City.
“It wouldn’t be a home game,” he said, “but it’d be the next best thing.”
Martinez in middle of quarterback debate
Through no fault of his own, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez was at the center of a debate between two rival schools’ defensive coordinators this week.
Michigan State assistant Pat Narduzzi said after Nebraska’s 28-24 win Saturday that he thought Martinez was faster than Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
Wolverine defensive coordinator Greg Mattison disagrees. Martinez against Robinson? Not close, Mattison said.
“If they ran a race today, (Martinez) wouldn’t even get in the medal round,” Mattison told local beat reporters Monday.
Cornerback role in works for Evans
Nebraska nickel back Ciante Evans doesn’t expect to be matched up with a slot receiver too often against Penn State on Saturday.
If he’s on the field, Evans assumes it will be at a traditional cornerback spot.
Evans is the fifth defensive back in the Huskers’ nickel package, a unit that features two linebackers and is designed to match up with quicker skill players.
But the Nittany Lions’ offense regularly operates out of two-tight end or two-running back formations, so Evans’ nickel position will often be replaced by a strongside linebacker Saturday.
Evans expects the majority of his practice time this week will be at cornerback, a position he played to begin the second half of last weekend’s 28-24 win over Michigan State. Through Tuesday, he hadn’t even worked at nickel yet.
“A lot of ground-and-pound running, with play-action shots,” Evans said of the PSU attack.