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Nebraska fans come from near and far to witness game in gulf

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Bob Healey came all the way from California to see Nebraska play Southern Mississippi.

Mike Berglund, a transplanted Husker living in Alabama, got to see his favorite team live for the first time in 10 years.

And Ken Jacobs and his wife decided to take the week off and drive 1,150 miles from Snyder, Neb., to watch the Huskers in person.

A record crowd of 36,152 packed M.M Roberts Stadium to see No. 15 Nebraska play Southern Miss on Thursday night.

Many were dressed in red and rooting for the road team.

Healey, 61, is a Nebraska alum living with his wife, Diane, in Irvine, Calif.

``We try to hit one or two games a year,'' Bob Healey said.

The last and only time Healey was in Mississippi was 1964. He stopped in Vicksburg on the way to Miami to watch the Cornhuskers play in the Orange Bowl.

Berglund, from Asheville, Ala., is a Nebraska alum who has been living in the South for years. His wife is an Alabama alum.

The last time he got to see Nebraska in person it was in Lincoln.

``It was cold. I had five layers of clothes on,'' he said. ``This is a lot different. Heat and humidity.''

Jacobs, 66, and his wife made the trip in a day and a half.

``This was kind of a lark. We like this part of the country,'' Jacobs said.

They are heading back this morning. They have to be back by Sunday to work at the restaurant they own.

Jacobs said Golden Eagles fans have greeted them with Southern hospitality.

``Very courteous,'' Jacobs said, describing Southern Miss fans. ``A lot better than a lot places we've been lately.''

Typical of the famously well-mannered Nebraska fans, Jacobs didn't single out the places where he has received a less than warm welcome.

``I would but I wouldn't want you to print it,'' he said.

Start me up

Timmy Blackwell was making his first start of the season at tailback for Southern Miss.

James Walley started the first two games, but the two backs have basically been sharing the position.

Blackwell, a junior, was kicked off the team last year but given a second chance by coach Jeff Bower this season. Blackwell had been by far the better of the two tailbacks through the first three games.

Blackwell, the faster of the two runners, was leading the team in rushing with 215 yards and was averaging 5.4 yards a carry. Walley, who is more of an inside runner, came into the game with 140 yards and a 2.4 yards per carry average.

Odds and ends

The Golden Eagles and Huskers complete their three-game series next season in Lincoln. ... Southern Miss was 2-10 against the Big 12 entering the game. The Huskers were 12-4 against teams currently in Conference USA.

Also in SPORTS:
Recruit Update
Knights playing well since loss
Honeymoon over for NU
Tricks no treat for NU
Bingham dressed but didn't play

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Press Box Perspective
Bo Pelini is the real deal.

If Nebraska fans didn't know this already, they surely took notice when his name appeared on a list of possible candidates to become the head coach at Arizona.

And this after Pelini's career as Nebraska defensive coordinator is only four games old.

Get used to it. Rest assured, there will be more head coaching vacancies after this season, and look for Pelini's name to pop up time and time again.

Pelini had made it no secret he wants to become a head coach someday. But this soon?

No, Pelini's not going to bolt for Arizona tomorrow. But that doesn't mean he won't entertain head coaching offers in the months following this season.

It's possible the Huskers will have Pelini another season or two. But if the right offer comes along ... well, don't expect Frank Solich's best hire to suddenly become too good of a hire.

-- Brian Rosenthal