This is it.
This is what college football is all about.
This is a chance for the University of Nebraska to jump back onto the national scene with a flourish.
This is ESPN's College GameDay coming to Lincoln for the first time since 2007.
This is why players come to Nebraska, to play in games and against teams like Ohio State. It all takes place beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Except for GameDay. It will be over at 11 a.m., but the excitement will remain.
“This is what you play for, right?” linebacker JoJo Domann said. “It’s a big game and a big stage. We’re going to have to play our best football on Saturday.”
Nebraska sophomore safety Cam Taylor-Britt understands that it’s a big deal, but he’s not going to let GameDay be a distraction.
“You just stay away from it,” Taylor-Britt said. “All of that is an illusion. None matters. All that matters is what you put on that field come Saturday. That’s all that matters. Everything else is an illusion. Praise and blame is all the same. It doesn’t matter.
“At the end of the day you just have to focus on what you have to do and when it comes Saturday you have to perform your best football. And that’s what matters.”
While Taylor-Britt wants to keep his distance from the GameDay hoopla, head coach Scott Frost is diving in feet first.
Frost played in numerous big games when he was the starting quarterback for the Huskers in 1996 and 1997. He said he never even noticed any of the potential distractions that were around at that time.
“It was practice and the games,” Frost said. “A lot of this stuff is for the fans. People eat it up. The audience at GameDay is big for a reason because those guys are the best at what they do.
“But as a player, our guys certainly won’t be on set with Herbie (Kirk Herbstreit) and those guys. They are going to be getting ready for a game. I don’t think it will distract our guys or their guys too much.”
Frost embraces the pressure, the atmosphere and everything else that goes with it. He wants his players to learn how to do that as well.
“Regardless of how this game goes we are going to do the best we can,” Frost said. “I hope we can win. Regardless of how this game goes this is a special time for Nebraska.”
GameDay hasn’t been in Lincoln since 2007. The No. 14 Huskers were 2-0 that year when No. 1 Southern Cal came to town. The Trojans left with a convincing 49-31 win.
It was the beginning of the end for then-coach Bill Callahan who was fired at the end of a 5-7 season that year.
It’s been up and down for the Huskers since then. Some good times, but plenty of hard times as well.
Maybe, just maybe, this is a signal that things are turning around for the program.
“This is a good opportunity to highlight our program, the direction the program is going, the improvement we have made, the path that we are on,” Frost said. “It’s going to be great to get national attention here in Lincoln. If we weren’t improving and getting better and going in a really good direction that was obvious to a lot of people, we wouldn’t have those guys on ESPN coming to town.
“This is special. Our guys need to be able to operate and flourish amidst whatever distraction brings along with it.”
Tight end Jack Stoll says every home game is special, but there’s just a little more excitement with this one.
“I’m looking forward to it, especially with all the hype around it. Awesome, awesome atmosphere,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. That obviously comes with a lot of distractions that we’re going to try and block out. I know we’re going to do a good job of it and prepare like any other week. Just go out and attack our practices and just stay locked in and focused.”
It would be a big game with or without GameDay. It’s Ohio State. That’s all that needs to be said.
“It is huge,” nose guard Darrion Daniels said. “No need to talk too much on Ohio State, they speak for themselves. Everybody knows what type of team they are.
“And for a team like us trying to prove ourselves and for a team to take that next step from being a decent team, to being a good team, to being an even better team, this is one of those opportunities where we have to see it and seize it, then take full advantage of it.”
It’s what quarterback Adrian Martinez lives for.
“This is Nebraska,” Martinez said. “This is big time college football. I’m excited that College GameDay’s back here this Saturday and that’s the way it should be again.”