Joe Conlin liked the idea, but he wanted to hear what his players and his coaching staff thought before committing to traveling to Lincoln, Neb., to open Fordham’s football season.
This wasn’t going to be just any game. It was going to be Fordham’s first contest against a Power Five conference opponent in 67 years and the Rams’ first against a Big Ten foe since 1941 (12 p.m., Big Ten Network).
“Overwhelmingly, they were like, ‘Let’s go,’” the Fordham football coach recalled in a phone interview this week. “They were pretty jacked up. Linebacker Ryan Greenhagen said he started watching film the next day, before it was even finalized. This is why you play the game. You want to play the big games. … These are the moments you want as an athlete.”
In the span of a week in May, the Rams had their first game of the season booked, a trip to the Midwest to face one of college football’s most historically successful programs in front of 90,000 rabid Cornhuskers fans. As an added bonus, the Division I-AA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program will receive a $500,000 guarantee plus travel from Nebraska for the game, according to a source. It will be the Big Ten school’s 376th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium.
In the span of a week in May, the Rams had their first game of the season booked, a trip to the Midwest to face one of college football’s most historically successful programs in front of 90,000 rabid Cornhuskers fans. As an added bonus, the Division I-AA Football Championship Subdivision program will receive $1 million from Nebraska for the game, according to a source. It will be the Big Ten school’s 376th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium.
That’s how Conlin’s fourth season with the Rams will begin, with Fordham as a whopping 40.5-point underdog (according to the Action Network) against a desperate team that suffered an ugly loss at Illinois last week. Nebraska, picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten West by the conference’s media members, won’t take Fordham lightly.
“We’re going to get their best effort and hopefully they get ours,” Conlin said. “In a hostile environment, I’m excited to see how our guys respond.”
The Rams will get a hefty challenge with nothing to lose. They can play free and loose. Nobody expects them to be in the game. It can only help Fordham, picked to finish second in the Patriot League and led by the conference’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year (quarterback Tim DeMorat) and Defensive player of the Year (Greenhagen). The Rams won’t face anyone with Nebraska’s talent or size again this season.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to play in front of 90,000 people in one of the most historic stadiums [in the country], and playing one of the most historic programs in college football is a pretty special thing,” Conlin said. “When I was growing up, Nebraska was in the top-three [every year] and they’re still a heckuva program. It’s kind of surreal.”
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