In lieu of a 2017 bowl game, may I present Milt and Janet.
The Big Red Bemises of Nebraska.
Husker fans — and partners — for life, married Dec. 23, 1971, bound for a honeymoon in Miami.
And a New Year’s night date at the Orange Bowl, where Nebraska would play Alabama, hoping for a postseason cherry on top of a perfect regular season.
The Huskers delivered for the couple, rolling the Crimson Tide 38-6, national champions two times over.
Milt remembers Rich Glover and the defense.
Janet remembers the humidity.
They both remember the old stadium.
“You could feel the thing swaying,” Milt says.
“And it was so loud,” Janet says. “There was a ton of red down there.”
The young couple who witnessed that victory — she was 19, he was 20 — met in grade school in Rising City.
They dated through high school. Took a brief hiatus when Milt went off to Nebraska Wesleyan University and thought they should “see other people.” A few months later, he spotted Janet at a dance and thought “Who’s that hot girl?’ (She was wearing a wig. Don’t ask her why, Janet says. She doesn’t remember.)
The couple soon reunited and have a record to be proud of — married 46 years, four kids, eight grandchildren.
And they’re happy as can be.
They run a fundraising business — supplying school kids with goodies to sell to raise money for band trips and other excursions.
They spread the gospel of organ donation, a mission for more than three decades after their son Matthew’s liver saved a dying girl. (“A story for another time,” Milt says.)
I met the David City couple late last week, two days before their anniversary.
They brought a copy of the honeymoon tale they’d shared with the local paper when they’d returned from Florida. Young Milt in a red-felt cowboy hat, Janet wearing striped bell bottoms and granny glasses.
A headline full of foreboding: “Mama on honeymoon — other disasters, too.”
Janet and Milt tell the story from the beginning. How they’d married at First Lutheran Church in Rising City, spent their wedding night in Lincoln, returned to Butler County for Christmas, then set off in Milt’s Impala. Miami or bust.
They’d taken off their studded snow tires before they left town, Milt says, because they were banned down south.
The car covered 208 miles on ice-covered roads before smacking into a pole, sliding across a St. Joseph, Missouri, parking lot as slick as a skating rink.
The honeymooners were unhurt, but the car required two days in a repair shop.
So the newlyweds phoned home.
And Janet’s parents headed for Missouri. (“We spent the night in the same motel room,” Janet says.)
The next morning, Milt took the wheel of his in-laws’ Plymouth. (After they transferred the "Honeymooners for BIG RED sign to the trunk.)
“And drove like a maniac to Disney World.” (Where they waited 2½ hours to get in the haunted house at the brand-new amusement park.)
They eventually meandered to Miami, where they took in alligator wrestling and snatched coconuts off the lawns of mansions along South Beach. After the bowl game, they toured the Everglades.
“We did all the tourist things,” Milt says.
They stopped in St. Joe on the way home to pick up their car — enduring another honeymoon bump when Milt didn’t check his rear view mirror for several miles and had to circle back to find Janet — and settled into married life.
They celebrated their third anniversary by going to the Sugar Bowl. They toasted their fifth with a trip to watch the Huskers and Vince Ferragamo play in Hawaii.
Before the kids came, they’d scoot down Vine Street on Milt’s Suzuki 90, picking up Kentucky Fried Chicken and picnicking under the pine trees outside East Stadium before kickoff.
“Then we’d wait an hour for traffic to clear before heading home,” Milt says. (The Suzuki couldn’t compete.)
After their kids started coming — Crystal and Tiffany, Matthew and Jared — they gave up going to regular-season games and cheered to Lyell Bremser's call on the radio.
Now they sit in Milt’s folks’ seats at the stadium. Their kids have taken turns cheering the Huskers from those seats. Their grandkids, too. “Four generations since the mid-'60s,” Milt says.
They’ve sat through blizzards and heat waves. Great seasons and not-so-great and 2017.
“Janet stands and cheers every single player,” Milt says. “We’ve stayed until the last dog left the stadium.”
They’ll be back in the fall.
Lifetime Husker fans in a lifetime marriage that got off to a slippery start.
He makes her laugh, Janet says, sitting beside her sweetie on a trip to Lincoln to see the grandkids.
She laughs easily, says the man at her side.
“We don’t disagree about anything. We just don’t.”
Go Big Red.
Go Milt and Janet.