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Sportsmanship keeps Nebraska a cut above

Before we even start, to not disappoint our more veteran/senior readership, let’s establish that, for me, none of the Big Ten trips compare to Pitt and West Virginia — the rivalry of Pitt in historic Pitt Stadium and the convenient ride down to Morgantown with the backdrop of autumn colors.

But, for the sake of today’s debate, I’ll cooperate, and there are actually some great trips and interesting choices. They’re just far away.

Iowa is one of them. On Penn State’s first Big Ten trip in 1993 to Cedar Rapids, Iowa sponsored a meal for the visiting media at the famous Lark Summer Club in nearby Tiffin, where the wedge salads needed a larger bowl and the steaks would have appeased Fred Flintstone.

The Hawkeyes did it once per year and used the occasion to welcome Penn State.

Wisconsin is also very cool. Like State College, and Iowa City, it’s a college town, and Camp Randall’s tradition of “Jump Around,” shakes the stadium. Not to mention the brats.

One of the things that has distinguished the series with Wisconsin and Iowa is comparable opposition. Penn State has won multiple times at both places, just as the Badgers and Hawks have both come to Beaver Stadium and won more than once.

By design, I’ve left out Michigan, an overrated and uncomfortable stadium, and Ohio State, where there have been almost no good memories for Penn State and surely some of its worst.

Which leaves my choice: Nebraska.

It has as much in common with Penn State as any other team in the Big Ten in that Lincoln is a neat college town (albeit with not the easiest travel access, like PSU) and also boasts a proud and accomplished tradition recognizing the Cornhuskers’ national championships.

And just as Penn State ventured out of its eastern footprint, the Huskers, for better or worse, did the same by leaving the Big 8 for greener – emphasize greener ($) – pastures of the Big Ten.

Nebraska’s fans are the classiest in any conference.

I had heard about their graciousness before but was still stunned and impressed to see them form a tunnel to the visitors’ tunnel to applaud their guests. I have only seen Penn State lose in Lincoln, several times, but I’m told the fans do the same after the Cornhuskers suffer a home defeat.

In fact, speaking of home defeats, there were reports that Nebraska fans met Ohio State at the Lincoln Airport two weeks ago to welcome the Buckeyes.

Though airport greetings are above and beyond the call, it’s an indication of the best sportsmanship in the Big Ten.

Which is why I’m picking Nebraska as my favorite (non-eastern) road venue.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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