Sept. 6, 2000

Associated Press Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – When Notre Dame coach Bob Davie sat down with reporters to talk about playing the top-ranked Cornhuskers, the first words from his lips were the same as those being asked by fans.

“Do you guys have any extra tickets?” he joked.

Ticket prices were nothing too laugh at though. Tickets for Saturday’s game were selling on eBay Wednesday for more than $200 each. Face value of the tickets are $36.

Alumni said they’ve heard of tickets selling for more than $1,000 each.

“It’s ludicrous,” said Chuck Lennon, the executive director of Notre Dame’s Alumni Association.

People were advertising in the newspaper everything from a trade for tickets to next year’s Notre Dame-Nebraska game in Lincoln to a weekend of duck hunting on the Platte River for tickets.

“We’re seeing a little bit of everything. One of our customer service representatives was offered money over the phone for their personal tickets they receive for being an employee,” said Jim Fraleigh, Notre Dame’s director of tickets and marketing. “We’re being besieged by Notre Dame folks and Nebraska folks looking for tickets.”

Notre Dame had 32,000 tickets available to alumni and received requests for 47,865, the second highest demand ever for a home game. At Nebraska, there were more than 28,000 requests for the 4,000 tickets the school was allotted, and 500 of those had to be set aside for students.

“The frenzy here is almost as much as it was for the national championship game when we played Florida in the Fiesta Bowl,” said Ed Paquette, executive director of the University of Nebraska Alumni Association. “At least when we go to a bowl game you’re getting a much larger number of tickets.”

Notre Dame has sold 44 corporate tents, more than double the previous record of 18 for the Michigan game in 1998. And for only the third time ever, the pregame prep rally Friday night is being moved from the 11,418-seat Joyce Center to Notre Dame Stadium because of the expected crowd.

The two teams have won 16 national championships between them and played in more than 150 games combined involving teams ranked No. 1, so the fervor may seem a little much for a game against a team ranked only No. 23. But the Irish are known for knocking off No. 1 teams, with an 8-13-1 record overall against top-ranked teams and 7-4-0 since 1971.

“Everybody’s thinking that this could be a Notre Dame moment,” Lennon said. The Cornhuskers have had a few moments of their own, including being the only team to beat the Irish during the Four Horsemen era during the 1922-24 seasons. And they did that twice. In the last meeting between the two teams, Nebraska beat Notre Dame 40-6 in the Orange Bowl in 1973. The Irish hold a 7-6-1 edge in the series.

Officials at both schools say they expect thousands of Nebraska fans without tickets to travel to South Bend for the weekend.

“Nebraskans are pretty optimistic people. When they want to see the Huskers play they find a way of doing it. It wouldn’t surprise me to see at least 10,000 to 15,000 Nebraskans in the stadium,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of Nebraskans that just want to be there even if they have to go to a local tavern or one of those tailgate parties to watch a game.”

The Chicago chapter of the Nebraska alumni association has rented out the College Football Hall of Fame and will be holding their pregame “Husker Huddle” there. Fans who don’t have tickets to the game can watch the game in the hall’s theater for $20.

“I think people just want to have a piece of this history,” Paquette said. “Notre Dame holds what 80,000? My guess is 10 years from now if you count up everyone who says they were at that game it will probably be 160,000.”