When I was a kid, this game was the biggest game of the year. Every year. Nothing was better than beating Oklahoma.
Nothing was worse than losing to Oklahoma. Again. In the fourth quarter. When we'd had them beat all day long.
I don't remember the game where Johnny Rodgers "tore 'em loose from their shoes;" I wasn't even a glimmer in my folks' eyes then. But it is an enduring moment from this titanic struggle between these two programs.
Oklahoma-Nebraska has always been, for me, the epitome of college football. I grew up in the 1980s, when it seemed like every OU-NU matchup had national title implications. Osborne - Switzer - Taylor - Bosworth - Rozier - Dupree - Mumford - Holieway - Gill: these are the legends that made this game the greatest rivalry in college football. Many of these rivalries are marked by intense dislike: not so Nebraska and Oklahoma. It's always been a respectful, honorable rivalry. We were both too good for too long for it to descend into hatred, and the dignity of the folks involved made it even more respectful.
Today? Not so much. Thanks to the powers-that-be in college football, who've brought us wondrous gifts like the Bowl Championship Series, where everyone makes money talking about who should be playing for the national title instead of devising a system where two teams actually settle the question on the field, Nebraska and Oklahoma now play a two-on, two-off schedule. But today, we play Oklahoma, and as I've watched several NU-OU matchups this week (God bless ESPN Classic and our new DVR), I've gotten that old feeling again. It's great to be back here, among the giants of my youth.
Keep the faith.
Go Big Red!
The 73-21 and 63-7 wins in 1996 and 1997? We're sorry. Can you please stop hammering us for them now?