LINCOLN — Well that was a laugher.
And we aren’t talking about Saturday’s game.
Bill Murray, a well-known Chicago Cubs fan, made an appearance on the sideline during pregame warmups. The “Saturday Night Live” alum and star of movies like “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” “Caddyshack” and “Groundhog Day” attended his first football game in Lincoln.
Murray, who is performing Sunday at Omaha’s Holland Center with cellist Jan Vogler, was prepared for his time among the Husker faithful. He was wearing red slacks and a red Nebraska visor adorned on the sides with sparkly costume jewelry.
Those already in their seats knew Murray, with his tousled gray hair, was in the building when his image was posted on the North Stadium scoreboard, and cheers began to fill the stadium. A few fans and one member of the NU marching band were able to get a quick photo with the 68-year-old Murray.
A path then was cleared for Murray to make his way to the west corner of North Stadium, where he was again surrounded by photographers and videographers.
Nebraska punter Caleb Lightbourn made his way through that scrum to shake Murray’s hand and tell him, “Nice to meet you. I’m such a big fan.”
Murray then strolled along the North Stadium end line, leaving people doing double takes and asking, “Was that Bill Murray?” Murray exited the stadium at the northeast corner and headed for the door that media use to gain access to postgame press conferences.
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Line 'em up
Fans noticed before the canceled Akron game that Nebraska players had their home area code on the front of their helmets, and coaches had theirs on the side of their caps.
Another new tradition first noticed at the Michigan game was that instead of just racing into the locker room at the end of pregame warm-ups, Nebraska players line up in numerical order before walking back to the locker room.
At Michigan Stadium the Huskers walked up the ramp and into their locker room under the east stands. On Saturday they quietly walked the Tunnel Walk path beneath North Stadium. NU head coach Scott Frost waited until all the players had passed him before leading the coaches back to the dressing room.
Defensive end Ben Stille was honored before the game as this year’s recipient of the George Finley Sullivan scholarship by the Touchdown Club of Nebraska.
Stille, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound sophomore from Ashland, had family members accept the award on his behalf. The scholarship was established to support a football student-athlete who is pursuing a career related to medicine. Stille is a health sciences major.
The 91-year-old Sullivan was Nebraska’s head athletic trainer from 1977-95 and still has an office with his name on it in the press box area of West Stadium. Sullivan was on the field with Stille’s family Saturday for the presentation.
The stadium wasn’t as full at the start of Saturday’s game as it was for the first three times this month that Husker fans have gathered there.
Part of it may have been the cool conditions, some of it might have been because of Nebraska’s slow start to the season. The notoriously fickle student section in the east corner of South Stadium had several empty rows at kickoff.
By halftime, with the Huskers trailing 20-7, sections 13-A and 13-B had more empty seats than occupied ones above the entrance ramp.
Scouting the Huskers
On hand for the game were NFL scouts from the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. There also were three representatives from the Auto Nation Cure Bowl, which is played Dec. 15 in Orlando.