I emerged from the bowels of Memorial Stadium a lone Buffalo on the Great Plains.
In the weeks leading up to my trip, I had thought nothing of flaunting my Colorado Buffaloes gear in enemy territory, but my pre-game confidence quickly gave way to the realization that I was outnumbered - 85,181 to one. Me. Alone. And yes, even a little bit scared.
Of course, I would soon discover I had nothing to fear, and that upset me even more. It was as if the Big Red Nation wanted to prove it was better than me - us.
They did, and it wasn't hard.
As I walked along the chain-link fence that separated the University of Nebraska players from the fans who idolize them, I felt a little like one of those poor Louisiana Tech players on the visitor's sideline - outnumbered, undersized and pretty sure that at some point of the day I would be humiliated. (They were, by a score of 49-10. And so was I, but CU's opening-game loss to Division I-AA Montana State wasn't announced until most of the crowd had left the stadium.)
As a proud CU alum, there was nothing about the University of Nebraska that I could even pretend to like. The Cornhuskers are the Giants to my Dodgers, the Raiders to my Broncos.
But that was before my visit to Lincoln, Neb.
Don't get me wrong - I never have been nor ever will be a Cornhuskers fan. But I just can't conjure up the hate like I used to, and it's because the University of Nebraska is what my beloved CU will never be: a college football paradise.
It was instantly apparent how much better of a college football atmosphere thrives in Lincoln than ever will in Boulder. It's like comparing apples to oranges, or Champs Sport Bowls to Orange Bowls.
n The student section was standing-room only 45 minutes before kick off; CU students often don't file in to Folsom Field until the second quarter, if they bother to show up at all.
n Nebraska's marching band actually takes the time to learn each opponent's fight song - and plays it before the game as a sign of respect. At Folsom Field, visiting players (and their fans) are greeted with hurled oranges, marshmallows and language that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.
n Pouring rain had zero - ZERO - effect on attendance at Memorial Stadium last weekend. In Boulder, a light drizzle provides many "fans" with an excuse to not go to the game.
n Cornhuskers fans know every team cheer, chant and song. The best-known cheer at CU is an eight-word diddy that includes two f-bombs.
I had always joked that Nebraskans so love their football team because their geographic misfortune leaves them little else to do. And that still may be the case, but I have a new respect for the greatest fans in college football. And in case they should forget, there are signs over every stadium entrance ("Through these gates pass the Greatest Fans in college football) reminding them of their place in our football-crazed country.
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. And if I'm lucky, I'll get to see it again.